On the second day of the international conference „From transformation to globalization”, participants discussed global economic expansion and the role of leaders in transforming companies and economies. President of the Republic of Poland Bronisław Komorowski assumed honorary patronage over the event.
Initiating a discussion on where to look for growth opportunities, rector of the VISTULA Finance and Business Academy prof. Krzysztof Rybiński, asked whether the Polish education system appropriately prepared young people to challenges posed by global economy. According to Franciszek Hutten-Czapski, Managing Director of the Boston Consulting Group, Polish education is based on outdated learning schemes, such as learning by heart.
KGHM Chairman Herbert Wirth partially agreed with this view, though he was more moderate in his assessment. – We cooperate with Polish universities and some of them are starting to understand the needs of business. We have well-educated young people but the so-called “soft skills” are a problem – said Chairman Wirth.
Participants also wondered whether foreign students in Poland could be trailblazers for Polish companies in their home countries. – In the previous epoch we had students from a.o. Mongolia, some prime ministers of Asian states graduated from Polish universities and nothing came of it – Herbert Wirth reminded. Managing Partner at MCI Tomasz Czechowicz stressed that more students from the region, as well as from Africa and Asia should be attracted.
Another topic was the role of public administration in conquering foreign markets. – The key thing is that the administration does not create obstacles – said Chairman Wirth. – One can buy new technologies, but not trust. Sadly, the spirit of suspicion is still prevalent in our country, particularly when it comes to companies owned by the State Treasury. Such a climate makes it hard for us to function properly – he added, while underlining that the Polish embassy in Chile extended valuable support in times of KGHM’s expansion in this country.
It was agreed that before attempting to enter a foreign market, the market should be thoroughly researched and the local clients should be understood. Apart from financial support, the courage in making strategic decision is also required. Tomasz Czechowicz drew attention to the fact that due to the large size of the internal market and significant risk related to international expansion, Polish companies will mostly continue operating solely domestically.
Later, participants discussed the role of leaders in transforming companies and economies. As pointed out by Andrzej Jacaszek, Vicperesident of Employers of Poland, Publisher Harvard Business Review Polska and Managing Director of ICAN institute, true leadership is not built on heroism, but on the application of positivist principles. – It should consist in a mixture of humility and iron will, goal orientation, promotion of diligence, high ethical standards and the creation of added value – not only economic, but also social – Andrzej Jacaszek outlined.
He invited business leaders, who achieved unprecedented success, to share their experiences. Chairmwoman of Luxmed Anna Rulkiewicz is one of such leaders. She stressed that the most important factors contributing to a dynamic development of the company: accountability, honesty, trust and extraordinary communicativeness. – We have included people in the creation of a common strategy, we did not impose it on the entities we took over – it was elaborated during a substantive discussion – said Chairman Rulkiewicz and stressed her respect for the entities her company took over.
Another example of a leader is Dariusz Krawczyk, Chairman of Ciech – a company which recently stood on the brink of bankruptcy and now is owned by the most profitable chemical company on the stock exchange. – The role of a leader is to make difficult decisions, sometimes intuitively, without waiting for yet another analysis – said Krawczyk.
Piotr Kalisz, Director for Business Support and Member of the Board at Provident Poland, drew attention to a strategic qualitative change in his company’s approach to clients. – In recent years, we have made changes in management. We would like to inspire our employees to act, instead of only pushing them – said Kalisz. – Does it pay to be a leader? Of course it does. On the one hand, it is a great responsibility, on the other hand, it is very rewarding. The effects of our actions show our merits as leaders. What is more – the moment of truth comes when things are not going well. In such times, the team can lend you a helping hand or push you over the precipice – he said.
According to Stéphane Buffetaut, Chairman of the Transport, Energy, Infrastructure and Information Society Section of the European Economic and Social Committee, Poland is one of the countries which had, and still have, authentic leaders. He mentioned individuals such as Lech Wałęsa and Pope John Paul II. – You can have banks, markets and clients, but without a leader, there is no success – concluded Buffetaut.
Patron of the conference