Dragan is a believer.
He believes that for a new technology idea to be accepted, “show me” is the most effective approach, be it building, testing and demonstrating a virtual or physical prototype. He believes that persistence and continuous improvement to one’s original ideas are integral to progress. He believes that patience – allowing one’s idea to grow and mature – is critical to success. And he believes that it’s crucial for professional, more seasoned researchers – who often censor their own ideas for fear of failing – to not reject out of hand the often radical ideas offered by younger, idealistic researchers, who are more sensitive to criticism and failure. In his experience, both the professional experience of the seasoned professional and the curiosity of the early career researchers are prerequisites to generating new and valuable ideas.
To help newer researchers adjust to the professional world, Dragan believes in coaching younger scientists and engineers to explore uncharted territories, while at the same time being able to detach from their initial solutions, to see what else is possible. He believes in working “smart” as opposed to working “hard.” He believes in direct interaction with customers, to better understand their needs and priorities, so he can find more cost-effective solutions to address those needs.
Dragan derives his passion for his work from the unique opportunities he has to initiate and drive new technology solutions - from a raw idea to a fully functional prototype. “We work in an environment where creativity is nurtured and contributions are recognized,” he praised.
Just as Dragan strives toward success, he also believes that failure, and learning to move past it, is an important part of research. He likens the process to getting the flu: once the body’s immune system recognizes a known flu virus, the healing process is relatively fast. Similarly, once an early career researcher has experienced project execution failure, the next time this occurs, there is less impact on the researcher’s confidence level. “All R&D Centers across the globe have incredibly high failure rates,” he declared. “This is simply a fact any researcher must accept and live with.”
He believes that a course in “fast healing” might be one way to help younger researchers – across all of GE – move through their first project failures while preserving their spirit. “Focus on tomorrow, yesterday is just a past,” he advised.
And Dragan continues to be a believer, despite being at an age when many people think of retiring. “When you are a young, educated, career-oriented professional, it’s easy to believe the ‘sky is the limit’,” he reflected. “The challenge every professional is faced with is to continue really believing this once you are over age 45. I’ve just turned 63 and, despite many setbacks in my professional and private life, I still believe the sky is the limit. In many ways, it’s similar to a religious belief. You simply believe, or not. It’s not negotiable.”
Dragan is a believer.