Learning entrepreneurship in an international team - all this together with Comarch
Wojciech Pawluś, Country Manager for Benelux at Comarch, tells us what he values entrepreneurship for and the ability to make decisions on your own, what working in his international team is like, and how you can join the crew.
Associated with Comarch since 2010. Since then, he has continuously worked successfully for the success of the company. His co-workers speak about him in superlatives - "Wojtek is an excellent manager with strong business and interpersonal skills.", "Wojciech has mastered a skill that every manager should value: trust in 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 Business Development Manager responsible for the banking and insurance market in the Benelux region. However, before I got employed at Comarch I was also offered very attractive positions by much more "sexy" brands - like mcKinsey or Google. Why Comarch? Because I didn't want to be a "number" in a big corporation. I didn’t want to do all the dirty job for others and remain in the shadows for years. I also didn’t like serving coffee to my superiors. I was aiming high and wanted to have a real impact on the functioning of the company.
Comarch met my expectations. Although at that time it was not that well-known, it impressed me with its boldness in taking up challenges on various international markets. I knew that I would find myself perfectly in this environment. I liked the fact that I was thrown in at the deep end right from the start. I was trusted and given real tools to act. This direct approach to employees, confidence in their abilities, and the opportunity to work in an international company motivated me very strongly.
What challenges does your team currently face and what have you been able to achieve so far?
Since I became Country Manager for the Benelux region we have opened up for dynamic growth in new areas. We have gained clients such as AXA, ING, KPN, Proximus, Thalys, and Medialaan. In addition, for the first time in the company's history, we signed a contract in Africa - with Societe Generale Marocco.
We are currently growing year by year, and words are followed by action. We already gain 100 million PLN every year. Benelux - despite being a small region - is the second-largest foreign market for the entire Comarch group. Here we have several dozen global clients from various industries: KPN, AXA, Orange, Swiss Life, AGFA, Thalys, Q8, and many others.
Thanks to its dynamic development, brave policy, in 2019 Comarch was named the best Polish company in Belgium. Even earlier, I was personally awarded the title of Pole of the Year 2015 in Belgium. The award was presented as a recognition of the 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?
True, we are becoming more and more visible throughout the Benelux region. 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 final result. First of all, Comarch delivers projects according to plan. Additionally, we are very flexible and adapt to the needs of our clients. We do not sell a boxed product - we try to approach each case individually.
What's more, in Benelux we feel a bit like a bigger start-up, supported by its Polish headquarters. The unique mix of these two worlds, i.e. a small flexible company and an international corporation, means that we can make quick and bold decisions. This correlation favors us, we can see it in our results and satisfied customers.
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?
It'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 like working in our multicultural office. Good relations between co-workers are a basic element in the process of building an effective and harmonious team. I pay most attention to this aspect. And, multiculturalism only helps. Any culinary insights, opinions, exchange of recipes or traditions in a given country is a constant element during lunches. Such an atmosphere only strengthens relations within the team. In addition, joint outings and integration during work and afterwards - we have a ready recipe for a harmonious team.
What do you think a team leader should be like?
A leader should, above all, continually build the team, create the best possible relationships within it and create more leaders who, over time, are expected to become better than you in a given area.
I have a very direct style in my management philosophy. I place great trust in my colleagues, but they can only let me down once. I try to give space and freedom of action. Young people want to be responsible for the company from A to Z. They want to feel important and a subject in the company. This is how we at Comarch teach an extremely important skill - entrepreneurship.
Leadership is like a football, where the salespeople are the forwards, the consultants are the midfielders, the project team are the defenders, and the goalkeeper who have to deliver. And as General Manager, I support from the position of coach, who also likes to get on the pitch in key situations.
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 by the Belgians and the 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 or 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 and that they did a great job building my house. A few years later, after one of our projects, he said something different: "I like Poles, they fixed my business". I think this is pretty good proof that we are more and more often associated abroad not only as good physical workers but also 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 would like to encourage everyone who is thinking about an international career in an international team full of ambitious people from different parts of the world, open to cooperation and unconventional challenges to join us and work together with us to achieve great things. This amazing atmosphere and the uniqueness of the team make everyone feel special. What is more, working in Comarch Benelux gives you the opportunity to work in a scale-up company which is growing fast, has the atmosphere of a small company and at the same time is supported by a large corporation from Poland. The combination of these two worlds is extremely interesting and developing for each employee.
The biggest challenge for the team, both positive and negative, is the position of an IT challenger in the market, which over the last few years has been making its way from this unknown company in the market to an established brand, which in a few years has acquired dozens of significant references and is still hungry for more.
Working in such an environment makes our employees specialists who are not afraid to make individual, important decisions. This is learning entrepreneurship and Comarch is becoming a place that gives you wings, which is proven by the successes of other employees in their current companies, such as Paweł Przewięźlikowski (Selvita). Everyone who is oriented towards knowledge acquisition, interesting challenges, and development will surely be satisfied with the decision to work in our Team.