Spotlight on Svitla Costa Rica 1st anniversary
Svitla Systems is a global software development company that has steadily grown and expanded to more territories for the past 19 years. With over 1000+ developers on board, Svitla has created development teams in Europe, the US, Asia, and LATAM. In fact, the first success in expanding to the LATAM region was back in 2016 when Svitla Systems opened up an office in Guadalajara, Mexico, a strategic location known as the “Mexican Silicon Valley.”
With the exceptional development of the Mexico division, which already onboards over 200 engineers, Svitla continued solidifying its position in LATAM by opening up a remote development division in Costa Rica on June 7, 2021.
Almost one year later, the Costa Rica division has made impressive progress in delivering results by growing its team to +30 skilled and technologically-savvy professionals and driving business growth thanks to key benefits of the country which include:
- Convenient location that is only a few hours away by plane from the US and Mexico.
- Stable financial regulations coupled with high standards for modern services.
- Costa Rica is a leader in LATAM technology growth with 60+ universities.
- One of the most proficient English-speaking countries in Latin America.
- An agile approach to software development with a highly experienced community.
In this article, we’ll put the spotlight on the one-year progress of our Costa Rica division through our dear colleague Alanis Fallas, Head of Human Resources at Svitla Systems in Costa Rica, and the inputs of local talents - David Avila Fuentes, Senior QA Automation, and Sebastian Arroyo, Senior QA Manual.
Why Costa Rica is an attractive spot for IT companies
I know, you may think I’m biased because I’m from Costa Rica and I live here but hear me out, I promise I'll be as impartial as I can.
Costa Rica is one of the highest-ranking countries in LATAM for entrepreneurial activity. In fact, it ranks number six in the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Institute because the country is rich in opportunities, and most importantly, there’s a multitude of highly skilled and intelligent people willing to take those opportunities and run with them.
This attractive and peaceful country is graced with truly astounding biodiversity, a thriving economy boosted by tourism, and pristine and unspoiled environments. It’s no wonder digital nomads are making a beeline to Costa Rica.
Costa Rica has developed a high-quality public education system. The universities in the country are some of the best in LATAM, with many offering scholarships for people who choose an IT career. Costa Rica’s population has a 98% literacy rate, making it one of the highest on the continent. Plus the country offers excellent and affordable healthcare.
Costa Rica is known for its safe and stable environment and functional government. In August of 2021, a Digital Nomad law was passed to grant visas to foreign nationals and their families, instituting an ideal legal framework to attract digital nomads with greater security and incentives for workers to reside in the country while working remotely. In short, the Digital Nomad law includes an income tax exemption in an effort to attract people to relocate to Costa Rica, a migratory status benefit available and granted for a 1-year period, and a tax exception on imports of “basic personal equipment”.
As you can see, there’s truly no better time to work remotely in Costa Rica, as the country is an innovation hub for technology.
How we set up our first fully remote division
After learning that Svitla Systems was setting up operations in Costa Rica from the ground up, I thought it would be an invaluable opportunity for me to test my skills, my strengths, and be an ally to a company I had heard so many wonderful things about. In all honesty, I can safely say it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made, as Svitla proved to be a company that truly cares about its employees and their wellbeing.
My first year at Svitla has been great, and don’t get me wrong, there have been plenty of challenges along the way but also many successes, and it’s in those peaks and valleys where life becomes more exciting.
I think of Svitla Systems in Costa Rica as my baby. I was the first hired employee based out of Costa Rica and have seen and helped shape what it has become today. My first and most important goal was to grow a team of professionals who delivered value to Svitla’s portfolio of global clients, which was challenging because of high competition from the get-go.
However, we have produced a sustainable and well-rounded compensation package that allowed us to meet local developers’ demands, and thus, we hit our stride and began harnessing the talents of engineers who believed in what Svitla Systems was offering - the opportunity to genuinely make an impact via meaningful projects.
What inspired me most, people really gravitated toward the fact that Svitla is a woman-led company, led by Nataliya Anon, our Founder and CEO.
Our culture of growing talent
Founded as a remote-friendly company 18 years ago, our core values are centered on flexibility, both for the workspace and schedules, and meaningful work. We are not only remote-friendly, we are remote advocates, helping our employees attain their desired balance between personal and professional lives.
In fact, Sebastian Arroyo, Senior QA Manual, says“Working remotely has been amazing. I think it helps me be more organized in terms of time, as well as be more efficient and productive with work and personal life. It also enables me to reach an exceptional balance, which is something I’m always looking for.”
Our clients are mainly located in the US and EU, meaning we get to work with the latest, most cutting-edge technologies. As of now, the team has had the opportunity to work on 12 major projects from industries like healthcare, eCommerce, finance, fashion, software, and more. Typically, these projects involve 8-10 people from Costa Rica in partnership with colleagues from other parts of the world. What differentiates us from other outsourcers is that developers work with clients directly and are fully integrated with their processes, helping them build lasting partnerships and make a personal impact with their own ideas.
We house exceptionally talented teams! Over 90% of the Svitla Team are Senior-level developers who are highly proficient, self-driven, and capable of mindfully setting goals and consistently pursuing them. This is a particularly appealing environment for developers who wish to work with the best, smartest colleagues. We are actively hiring, focusing mainly on Java, Ruby, QA, React, Python, and DevOps profiles.
To support our teammates' growth ambitions, we focus on individual learning needs and offer many options to do so. From free Udemy licenses to our internal Svitla Stars program for public speakers and article writers, we encourage our developers to further their development in both hard and soft skills.
There are no closed doors
Svitla has an open-door policy that emphasizes open and effective communication above all else. At Svitla all our processes are designed with one goal: to make everyone's experience pleasant and efficient. We are masters in building efficient communication between our distributed teams and continue our journey in finding new ways to stay in touch.
From the Human Resources standpoint, we hold monthly 1:1 meetings to collect feedback and see how employees are feeling about a project, what they’re doing, roadblocks, and more. We hold monthly team activities like Fancy Fridays where we host giveaways of Svitla goodies. Some of these activities are in partnership with the Mexico division, and at this point, I would like to express my utmost gratitude to the Svitla Mexico team, as they have been extremely welcoming and helpful throughout this journey.
David Avila Fuentes, Senior QA Automation, said it best, “I’ve been working for 8 months at Svitla Systems and I can only say it’s been great. People are super cooperative, supportive, and extremely kind. Svitla always makes sure to give you a client where you fit 100% and does so by asking you for feedback, how you are feeling, and how happy you are in your current role. The benefits are excellent and Svitla is trying to improve them by asking for ideas. We have a pretty special family here at Svitla, and for those who are thinking of applying to Svitla, please go ahead without any doubt. You have found the right place.”
As a result of our approach, we have an exceptionally low attrition rate of 8%, which shows we are doing things the right way.
What the future holds
Svitla Systems in Costa Rica is the first fully remote division that has equal parts of good things and challenging things. On one hand, people here love to travel and remote contracts allow them to travel anywhere they like and achieve their desired work-life balance. On the other hand, people thrive on personal, face-to-face connections.
With many of our employees asking for office space to meet their teams, we decided to open our Costa Rica office, and I can tease that it will be a carefully thought-out location that will surely accommodate all the needs of our employees and clients who wish to visit us :)
As we gear up to work on more and even bigger projects, it’s imperative that our team continues to grow. The goal is to close 2022 with nearly 60 people.
As for me, I can say that even though I have my hands full at the moment in growing the Costa Rica team, I would like to replicate all that I’ve learned in this wonderful journey and help open offices in other regions of LATAM that present a valuable opportunity for Svitla.
For you readers, my goal was to convey what a loyal, global, and startup-mindset culture the company has, and I hope I achieved just that. Our Costa Rica division is a success center just like the rest of Svitla’s global operational offices, delivering the highest value and talent to our clients while creating new and exciting opportunities for our colleagues.
And there you have it folks, my journey during this gratifying, fun, and extraordinary first year at Svitla Systems.
I hope you enjoyed - Pura Vida!
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