Learning entrepreneurship in an international team - all this together with Comarch
Wojciech Pawluś, Country Manager for Benelux at Comarch, tells us why he values entrepreneurship and the ability to make decisions on your own, as well as what it’s like working in his international team – and how you can join the crew.
Wojciech has been associated with Comarch since 2010. Since then, he has worked continuously to help ensure the success of the company. His colleagues praise him highly - "Wojtek is an excellent manager with strong business and interpersonal skills," says one. "Wojciech has mastered a skill that every manager should value: empower his people," adds another.
You are the Country Manager for the Benelux region, tell us how your adventure in Comarch started?
In 2010 I started as a Business Development Manager responsible for the banking and insurance market in the Benelux region. However, before I joined Comarch I was also offered very attractive positions from other more "sexy" brands. Why Comarch? Because I didn't want to be a "number" in a large corporation. I didn't want to do all the back-breaking work for others and remain in the shadows for years. I aimed high and wanted to have a real impact on the functioning of the company.
Comarch met my expectations. Despite the fact that it was not that well-known at the time, it impressed me with its boldness in taking up challenges on various international markets. I knew that I would find my place in this environment. I liked the fact that I was thrown into the deep end right from the start. I was trusted and given real tools to act. This direct approach to employees, belief in their abilities and the opportunity to work in an international company motivated me very strongly to act.
What challenges does your team currently face, and what have you accomplished so far? If you would like to boast about any achievements, now is the time to do so.
Since I became Country Manager for the Benelux region we have opened up for dynamic growth in different industries. We have gained key partners such as AXA, ING, Proximus, mWingz, Thalys, and AGFA. In addition, for the first time in the history of Comarch, we have signed a contract in Africa - with Societe Generale Morocco. Currently, this region looks very promising.
We are growing stronger year by year, and that is backed up by actions and hard data. Turnover already exceeds PLN 100 million every year. In this respect, despite being a small region, the Benelux is the second largest foreign market for the entire Comarch group. Here we have several dozen global clients from various industries, such as KPN, Orange, Swiss Life, Crelan, Kuwait Petroleum, and many others.
Thanks to its dynamic growth and bold, out-of-box activities, Comarch was recognized as the best Polish company in Belgium in 2019. Even before then, in 2015, I had been awarded the title of Pole of the Year in Belgium. The award was presented by the Polish Ambassador in recognition of Comarch Group's successful business development in the Benelux region.
What is special about your team is that in such a tough and competitive region as the Benelux you win lucrative contracts. What do you think is the key to your success?
It is true, we are becoming more and more visible in the Benelux region, but also in entire West Europe. Comarch is considered the “IT challenger” on the market. Many factors contribute to this success. However, in my opinion, there are a few main elements that determine the end result. First of all, Comarch is one of the few IT vendors to deliver most projects within the agreed scope, plan, and budget. Additionally, we are very flexible and adapt to each client's needs. We perceive each project case individually.
Moreover, in Benelux we feel a bit like a bigger start-up, supported by Comarch headquarters in Poland. The unique mix of these two worlds - a small flexible company and an international corporation – means we’re capable of making quick and bold decisions. This approach is reflected in our results and customer satisfaction.
Your team is very diverse in terms of nationalities. Tell us, what impact does the fact that there are people from different parts of the world in the office have on communication, culture, and work?
That's true, we currently have more than 10 different nationalities in the team. Our team in Benelux is a bit of a Tower of Babel, a mixture of different cultures. That is why I enjoy working here. Good relationship among colleagues is a basic element in the process of building an effective and ambitious team. We pay lots of attention to this aspect. And the aforementioned multiculturalism only helps.
For instance, all culinary observations, opinions, exchange of recipes and traditions in a given country are a constant element of conversation during our lunches. Such an atmosphere only strengthens relations within the team. That’s not to mention joint initiatives and integration during and after work - we have a ready recipe for a harmonious team.
What do you think a team leader should be like?
As a leader, you should first and foremost give direction and continually motivate the team, build the best possible work atmosphere, and shape more leaders that become better than you over time.
I have a very direct management style and I place great trust in my team members, but I can only be let down once. I enjoy giving space and freedom of action. Young people want to be responsible for their business ventures from A to Z. They want to feel important and of real added value as themselves in the company. In this way, at Comarch we teach an extremely important skill - entrepreneurship, which distinguishes our company from others.
Leadership is like a football team, where the salespeople are the forwards, the consultants are the midfielders, and the project team are the defenders and the goalkeeper. And as General Manager, I support everyone from the position of coach, who also likes to get on the field in some key moments.
How does the fact that we are a Polish IT company affect your contact with customers? Are there any difficulties/conveniences because of this? Are there any stereotypes?
The perception of Poles among the Belgians and Dutch is changing from year to year, to our advantage. In the past, we were perceived as good physical workers. Today, you can hear compliments about great programmers and engineers. During one of the interviews, I mentioned a funny situation when the CEO of one of the big insurance groups said that he liked Poles because they repaired his house very well. A few years later, after the IT transformation with our participation, he said something different - "I like Poles because they did a great job in repairing my business". I think that’s pretty good proof that we are more and more often perceived abroad not only as good blue-collar workers but first of all as great programmers, engineers, and entrepreneurs.
Are you currently looking for new employees for your offices? If so, for which positions and which people are you looking for?
We are constantly looking for dynamic, entrepreneurial people for our branches in Brussels and Rotterdam. We are looking for people in sales, marketing, and consulting positions, but also for Project Managers and Business Analysts.
The above job offers apply to all sectors in which we operate - telecommunications, healthcare, banking, insurance, and retail.
How would you encourage people interested in joining your team?
I encourage everyone who is thinking about a dynamic career in an international ambitious team to join us and to realize their professional ambitions altogether. This entrepreneurial attitude and our team uniqueness make everyone feel special. What is more, joining Comarch Benelux gives you the opportunity to work for a scale-up that is growing fast, has the work atmosphere of a small company, and at the same time is supported by the Comarch headquarters in Poland. The combination of these two worlds in one is incredibly interesting and developing for each of the employees.
The biggest challenge for the team, both positive and negative, is Comarch’s position as an IT challenger on the market. Over the last few years, we have been going through a transformation from an unknown name to an established brand, gaining dozens of significant references on the local market and still hungry for further successes. Working in such an environment makes specialists from our employees who are stimulated to take individual, strategic decisions. This is learning entrepreneurship in a nutshell, and our company is - in fact - becoming a breeding ground for human resources in Poland, as evidenced by the successes of former Comarch employees who have created other recognized companies.
Anyone with an entrepreneurial spirit, and looking for ambitious challenges as well as hands-on personal development will certainly enjoy joining our team at Comarch Benelux.