Originally from Sarajevo in Bosnia, Hena Hodžić is currently based in the second largest city in Sweden. She takes a leading role within Vinnter as an electronics developer, and develops software for embedded systems.
In this interview, we discuss her origins, her active role with Vinnter, and her aspirations for the future.
What was it like, growing up in Sarajevo — and how does it compare to Sweden?
“I was born and raised in Sarajevo which is the capital city of Bosnia and Herzegovina. As a child I always liked spending winter holidays skiing or ice skating, since we have a lot of mountains all around Sarajevo. Summers in Sarajevo have always been really hot, so I usually spent them at the swimming pools playing with my friends.”
The capital and cultural centre of Bosnia and Herzegovina lies in the Miljacka River valley at the foot of Mount Trebević. The first city in Europe to have a tram system, Sarajevo is the only city in the world that has mountains within a 30 minute distance from its urban centre.
“In Sarajevo I was always surrounded by friends and family and there was always something to do. When I moved to Sweden, I initially lived in Västerås which, in comparison with Sarajevo, has a really different lifestyle. It was a huge change for me. I also got the impression that Västerås is mostly a city for families and it is a really peaceful area.”
One of Sweden’s oldest cities, Västerås is the largest inland port in the country. It’s known as The Cucumber City, due to large scale cultivation of this popular salad ingredient since the 18th and 19th centuries. In line with Hena’s observation about Västerås being a family-friendly zone, the Erikslund Shopping Centre on the outskirts of the city is a major attraction. Until 2015, it was Sweden’s biggest shopping mall. Västerås is also the centre of Sweden’s electrical industry.
Why did you move to Sweden?
“Initially I moved to Sweden because of my studies. I finished a Bachelor’s Degree in Automatic Control and Electronics on the Faculty of Electrical Engineering in Sarajevo, and started my Master programme in the same field. During my final year I got the opportunity to be an exchange student in Sweden. I thought it was a great idea that could be a big step in my career — and a great opportunity for my development and experience, so I accepted it.”
Hena did not regret her decision.
“Sweden exceeded my expectations. It is a really beautiful country, the people are amazing, and I really like my life here. Sweden has a unique lifestyle, really delicious food and a lot to offer, so I am trying to find time to explore it as much as I can.”
When she finished her Master programme at the university in Västerås, Hena started looking for a job in that area, but also spread her search net to bigger cities like Stockholm and Göteborg.
“I decided to move to Göteborg — firstly because I really liked the job offer I got, and also I was attracted by the great energy, engagement, and way of working of my team. Besides that, Göteborg is a really big and beautiful city, and I am still trying to explore it as much as I can. I think I like it very much because it somehow reminds me of my home town. Sometimes it makes me feel like I am home — maybe because of the ‘busy feeling’ that you get when you see the crowded city and everyone is hurrying somewhere.”
Göteborg is the second-largest city in Sweden, after Stockholm. It was initially named Göteborg in a charter of 1621, and at the same time given the German and English name Gothenburg. Globally, the city is twinned with several urban areas including Chicago in the United States, Oslo in Norway, Kraków in Poland, St. Petersburg in Russia, and the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality in South Africa. The city also plays host to the world’s largest youth football tournament (the Gothia Cup), and Europe’s biggest basketball tournament for young people, the Göteborg Basketball Festival.
What made you stay in Sweden — and what made you choose Vinnter as your employer?
“For me, Sweden is a nice and beautiful country which offers many things, and it is basically a place where I feel comfortable and see myself.”
Hena especially appreciates the way that people in Sweden encourage each other in an unselfish manner. Their approach to life is group oriented, with people going out of their way to help each other achieve their goals. In the calm and peaceful atmosphere of the country, life in Sweden is about focusing on yourself, but also on the environment.
“I chose Vinnter because I really liked their positive energy and way of working, from the first time I met them. I enjoy collaborating with my coworkers because they are supportive, always willing to help, and committed — which for me makes them a perfect fit.”
Why did you choose electronics, IT, and software as your line of work?
“When I was a child, my favourite subject in school was math. My wish was to go to some university where I would need math a lot. On the other side, I liked spending days with my dad, working on some electronics, watching him fixing computers and teaching me. So, when it was time for me to choose a university course, the Faculty of Electrical Engineering was my obvious choice — and that is how it all started.”
Hena’s father was a major inspiration for her in choosing this field of education. He is also an electrical engineer, and was always there to help whenever Hena was stuck — whether it was regarding software or hardware.
I hear you have 2 masters degrees. What made you choose those two specific subjects? And in hindsight, are you glad that you did?
“First of all, yes, I am really glad to have chosen and finished both of them, because they combine and unite everything I really wanted to learn! I started with Automatic Control and Electronics, which is mostly about hardware and just a little bit about software. Then I chose the Intelligent Embedded Systems field where we learnt more about software for certain hardware.”
At Vinnter, Hena Hodžić takes a role as an electronics developer. In this capacity, she is keenly involved in hardware development steps that can range from initial product specification to design hand over for final production. In today’s challenging consumer market, she must routinely design electronics platforms to meet strict technical requirements, and the demand for more compact and ever more powerful devices. This requires Hena to work in close collaboration with other technicians, developers, and specialists, who come from a diverse range of backgrounds.
Hena is also tasked with developing software for the embedded systems that she creates, or that someone else has created. Embedded systems are the software and operating systems permanently installed in devices that can range from everyday commodities like mobile phones and toasters, to industrial robots, medical diagnostic hardware, and systems for the military and aerospace sectors. In all applications, embedded systems have to be reliable, and operate in a predictable manner.
What are your ambitions and goals?
“I think we never stop learning and facing new things — especially in this field. Therefore my most important goal is to do what I really love, and that is taking place in hardware as well as software development.”
Active commitment and involvement in her work gives Hena the energy and strength to become a better engineer every day. This also enables her to grow and learn as much as she can, to try new things, face new challenges, and keep improving and developing — both personally and professionally. Being surrounded by a supportive team and working in a pleasant atmosphere help to make this possible.
Can you share a little about your experience as a young female professional in a very male dominated arena?
“I must say that at the beginning of my studies it was a little bit awkward for me. But then eventually I stopped thinking about it and started chasing my dreams. This is where I see myself, what I really love, and where I enjoy working. Moreover, my male colleagues at the university and also at work are really kind and ready to help anytime. So I have never faced any problems regarding this issue. I am fully satisfied with my career choice and I have never regretted it.”