In my previous post I wrote about how we made it to 100 FTEs. This process pushed us (as usual) far outside of our comfort zones in search of the people who could join our Leadership Team.
The Leadership Team for us is the exemplification of Predica values, our Triangle of Power, and lots of experience in the specific areas of our operations. These are the people who make tough decisions every day, draft vision and strategy of how we go about running our company and keep delivering value to our customers in the ever-changing information technology landscape.
Until only a few months ago, it was always our 4 founders (“the founding fathers”) who did this with a much smaller structure. But the scale and size of our organization requires us to expand our setup and grow this team.
Why I am writing about all this?
For 3 reasons, mainly:
- If you work with us (either as customer, partner, or employee) – to give you an understanding of what are our respective responsibility areas
- If you are running your own firm/department/team – to give you some hints/tips on how to build your own Leadership Team. Everyone needs this: no ship, unless really small, is able to sail on its own. Feel free to add your own experiences in the comments below, or contact me directly with your thoughts!
- If you are considering applying to Predica for any of our positions – to present the management team, our ways of working and how we can work together.
How we looked for the right people
I was personally responsible for filling the gaps in our team. This caused me to look deep into our Predica core values, and what we are looking for in the people we work with, putting emphasis on 3 key elements:
- Passion, energy and drive – we were looking for intrinsic motivation, energy and willingness to challenge the status quo of how large organizations do IT and how professional services firms like ours are managed
- Attitude – “extreme ownership” and “the buck stops here” are the attitudes we were looking for. These people need to be an example for the entire firm and set its “modus operandi”
- Experience (track record) – we were looking for senior professionals, where seniority is not measured by age. There are some things which you cannot learn from books, school or courses. Some of them, especially in the management realm, you can only learn through experience. This can mean both successes and failures, and requires trying, hence the growth mindset I described in my previous post.
Knowing whom we were looking for, we then took a step back to review recruitment methodologies that would fit our need.
A mistake in hiring a high-level executive can be very costly.
Hence, we reviewed a lot of books, materials and frameworks for recruitment. We found 2 that were especially useful:
Besides these two frameworks, we’ve gathered an extensive database of interesting questions that we can weave into the interview. However, we won’t reveal those and will keep them as a surprise for you. If you are interested, you can apply and experience them yourself! 🙂
During the recruitment process for these executive positions, we’ve included 3 important steps that we think should be a part of every executive recruitment. We are now test running them for our other searches!
This document describes in great detail the position for which you are applying. We feel that today’s standard job offers do not provide enough meaningful information to make an important job change decision. Hence, the position brief will include at least:
- Role mission and goals
- Key performance indicators on which you will be evaluated (job performance profile)
- Bonus system details
- Onboarding process (training, first 3 months)
- Career path (1+ year perspective)
- Example projects in which you will participate.
We will require you to procure at least 2-3 reference contacts to your previous employers (ideally your direct managers). Then we will likely also search through our own network to see if we can reach out to someone who has worked with you at any of your previous positions. These reference calls serve not only to validate some of your experiences, but also to make the onboarding process smoother.
However, we also provide reference contacts for the candidate. This means you can talk to someone at Predica in a similar role and hear their story. You won’t just get the one from the hiring manager or HR!
3+ hour tandem Topgrading interview
We will spend at least 3 hours with you and go through your entire career, as well as delve into the details of the role at Predica. This ensures there are no significant gaps between us and that both parties understand in detail what the relation will look like.
We went through this process for 3 positions for our Leadership Team recently, and today we are happy to announce 3 new key leaders joining our organization: Urszula Banasik, Marek Drob and Grzegorz Rycaj.
Who we are
Here is the list of people who greatly impact the shape of Predica every day:
Ewa Obrębska – Head of Administration
Ewa joined us just 2 years ago as a Board Assistant, and making tremendous progress, she is now responsible for all operations and administration. She manages a 3-person team and 3 offices (Warsaw, Doha, Cairo), in addition to corporate cost control.
Additionally, Ewa and her team optimize our expenses, as well as expense control (like delegations system), ensuring we continue to deliver the best value for our customers while keeping our costs in check. This includes relations with banks and accounting firms that help us stay compliant with the local laws.
Urszula Banasik – Head of HR
Ula joined us 1 month ago, with a vast experience in HR at organizations like Orange, Raiffeisen and mBank. The corporate background did not, however, stop her entrepreneurial drive to improve and optimize HR processes on a large scale.
At Predica Ula takes on the challenging role of Head of HR. It is challenging, because our business is based in 95% on people. Hence, their performance defines company performance. Some of the areas she is accountable for: training and learning, compensation and benefits, culture, employer branding, recruitment.
Piotr Oracz – Head of Marketing
Piotr joined us 9 months ago, and immediately rolled up his sleeves and started to improve how we do marketing. We (founders) worked with Piotr at Microsoft, so we knew we were like-minded in approach. In the last 4 years, Piotr has gained a lot of experience in digital marketing, running his own company Loopa.eu in the e-commerce space.
Since Piotr joined, our marketing footprint has increased enormously. Our social media fanbases grew by ~140% on LinkedIn and an impressive ~450% on Facebook. In terms of our website traffic, we have also seen a ~360% increase in average weekly sessions. These numbers can be seen to make a difference. As a result, even after this short time we can already trace 20% of our opportunities (and counting!) to marketing. We are happy to see this growth and at the same time, adding structure to this function at our firm.
At Predica, Piotr is responsible for managing our 4-person marketing team, the marketing budget and most of all, generating leads from digital media.
Marek Drob – Head of Delivery
Marek has joined Predica only recently (1.05). He started his career at IBM, and then at Billennium he was the man behind the success of the Service Delivery department. Marek’s journey at Billennium began with a seven-person team in Lublin 8 years ago, and finished with 530 FTE in 4 Delivery Centers in Poland and Offshore Delivery Center Pune, India.
At Predica Marek is responsible for 2 key areas of our Delivery unit:
- Operations – running our 65+ FTE delivery team, with 12 Team Leads across 3 countries.
- Strategy and processes – optimizing and automating all processes related to delivery of projects to our customers (from software lifecycle management, through managed service to team management).
Grzegorz Rycaj – Head of Consulting
Grzegorz joined Predica at the same time as Marek, coming from the same organization. A multiple Microsoft MVP, currently holding Microsoft Regional Director title, Grzegorz built a number of products and a highly-skilled cloud consulting department at Billennium, where he has been acting as a Board Member for a couple of years. His team was responsible, amongst others, for the largest adoption of public cloud for the Polish administration (JPK file gateway deployment for the Polish Ministry of Finance).
At Predica, Grzegorz is responsible for 2 key areas of our Consulting unit:
- Operations – running our 20+ FTE consulting team of Project Owners.
- Strategy and processes – optimizing and automating all processes related to the consulting part of our projects (from proposal preparation through contracts, to project management and reporting).
Tomasz Onyszko – Chief Technology Officer
Our technology ‘oracle’, MVP since 2004 (with a short break while working at Microsoft), Tomasz joined Predica as Partner in 2012, and has been driving the technology part of our business strongly ever since. In his recent blog post he’s given some insights into an example project he’s put in place lately.
And it’s much more than that: from blockchain to cybersecurity and machine learning, Tomasz is our go-to guy, who guides Predica’s technology directions in the ever-changing IT landscape.
Pawel Szczecki – Chief Operations Officer and General Manager, Poland
Aka “The Brain”, Pawel is the force behind all Predica data models, reporting and systems. As COO he is responsible for improving and automating processes related to our company operations. Additionally, as GM, he manages the whole Polish division of the company (95+ FTE).
Andrzej Lipka – Shareholder Representative and Board Member
As Shareholder Representative I am expected to take Predica Shareholders’ long-term view into account. This requires me to put the company interests before my own, or any other share- or stakeholder’s. All of us, owners, have the same perspective and attitude but some of my “special roles” include M&A, financial and legal structure of our companies.
As Board Member I am engaged in day-to-day operations of the company, acting as a stand-in for any of the other Board Members (our Board is the 4 founders of Predica). The few areas where I specialize in and am actively engaging on a daily basis are: HR, contract negotiations, conflict resolution, finance.
Grzegorz Chuchra – Chief Executive Officer
The “Steve Jobs” of Predica, and Greg does wear a black turtleneck to work sometimes! 🙂 The man behind our most ambitious and courageous endeavors: Predica Middle East, IoT partnership with Gerda, Predica Egypt, just to name a few. As CEO, he is responsible for Predica’s expansion to new business lines and regions.
And although not part of our Leadership, but taking on a new, challenging role in our organization is:
Andrzej Kaźmierczak – General Manager, Qatar
Andrzej is our long-time security expert and Microsoft MVP. He has proven himself in technical, sales and managerial roles, and now is stepping up, moving with his family to the Middle Eastern deserts, to take full accountability of our branch in Doha, Qatar.
What we do
What is important is that we are definitely hands-on leaders, who engage in all kinds of activities. We meet with customers, prepare (or evaluate and comment on) proposals, participate in recruitment etc.
In these activities we aim to be examples for all our employees – taking accountability, rolling up our sleeves in everyday problems, and providing valuable feedback and help to all employees. Consequently, we don’t lose perspective of what it’s really like to be a Predica customer, employee or partner.
Aside from the day-to-day ‘hustle’, we meet every 2 weeks to work out the most complex issues. Additionally, every year we travel for 2 days offsite to work out more long-term strategic plans. It’s valuable that each of us has a different background, specialization and experience. This diversity brings lots of discussion but often sheds light on difficult issues through various perspectives.
We are happy to head into mid-2018 with such a strong management team and are excited to see what the future brings! If you’d like to join us on this journey, get in touch!