Na łamach czeskiego Reseller Magazine ukazał się wywiad z przedstawicielami czeskiego oddziału Veracomp. Na pytania dziennikarzy odpowiadają Petr Janda i Lucie Stránská.
You were called SkyNet, then SkyVera, and now Veracomp. What‘s going to be your next name?
Petr: I get it, but Veracomp is the final name.
Lucie: That’s true. Our integration into the Europe-wide Veracomp group is binding for us and we are not going to rebrand again. We are proud to be part of such a great group that has been expanding throughout Europe. We have been growing, too, and enjoy it.
Petr: I agree. The position and financial strength of our majority owner allows it to seek other interesting acquisition targets on the market. There is no danger that someone would take us over.
Veracomp group has been present on the market for more than 20 years. How did it start and what is its current market position?
Petr: The company was established in Poland the same way as many companies that turned successful later on – out of student enthusiasm and great desire to do something interesting. And because they have stuck to their principles, the company has become the Polish leader in VAD distribution. Logically, they started expanding abroad. Romania was first, Czech and Slovak markets came a year later. Baltic countries have been added recently and we do not expect the expansion to subside any time soon. I dare say that you will hear about many interesting investments in the coming years.
Lucie: We are simply in a good company and we enjoy it. (smiles)
A large international company – it sounds a bit like a corporation…
Both together: No way!
Petr: Veracomp is one of few companies that have retained the spirit of a small firm despite massive expansion. I must admit that there is a certain difference between the Czech Republic where we have 20 employees and Poland where there are 200. What we have in common is a company-wide culture: the aim is for people who work for Veracomp to feel good and perceive the company as their second family.
Lucie: Exactly. Corporate values are centred around our employees. We derive our business success primarily from the development of human capital and collaboration of all employees towards common goals.
That sounds interesting. Can you elaborate on the corporate culture in relation to the market?
Petr: We have defined values to differentiate us from the competition. We strive to become the VAD distribution leader in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. Many people talk about added value but they have only a vague idea what it is. Our values are the “VA” that we provide to our clients: we are predictable and consistent, we approach each client individually, we have excellent technical and pre-sale knowledge, we are faster and more flexible than our competitors and we are stable and part of large multinational group. Success is defined by responses of our partners – and they are positive! We have been growing and the number of partners has been increasing. Apparently, they value our work.
Lucie: To put it simply, you can rely on us. (smiles) We also carry out regular surveys to assess partner satisfaction. Feedback is extremely important for us, we do not underestimate anything.
There are quite a few value-added distributors on the market. Do you think resellers are successful in delivering the added value?
Petr: Originally, VAD’s differed from traditional distributors by adding their comprehensive knowledge to the products. However, we go a step further and want to be those who really help resellers to develop business, to be their reliable partner. We are also offering a wide range of our services more or less free of charge. Our principle is to observe the rules of pure distribution and we never take business away from our partners! Some players on the market break this rule but it’s harmful not only for them but for everyone.
Let’s get back to the corporate culture. How are your employees?
Petr: One of my private goals is to be the best employer in ICT and we are doing our best towards that goal.
Lucie: That’s true. The word has probably spread and we are swamped with job applications… (smiles)-
Petr: We try to employ non-conventional methods not only towards the market but also within the company. I want our employees to feel better at work. Over the year at managerial positions, I have gained extensive experience and would like to pass it on. For instance, I force employees to work only at work and be with their family at home. Employees work more effectively and come home with clear heads.
Lucie: It works great … Except for the fourth quarter. (laughs)
Petr: We have just launched a no-emails project – it may sound idealistic but we do not wish people to send invitations to lunch to their colleagues in the office next door, but ultimately, we try to reduce the amount of internal email communication. That is why we have introduced an internal social network and we are pushing employees to use modern communication methods as well as to phone each other and meet face to face more often. We have been considering imposing a total ban on e-mails on Fridays and limits for the rest of the week. Each mail over the limit would be charged. And the money raised would make our Christmas party more opulent. (laughs)
Lucie: Indeed, we are trying to bust the myth that e-mail is a kind of e-mail communication. It is an ordinary offline medium – you cannot rely on the recipient to get back to immediately when you send an e-mail. The worst kind are “one to many” e-mails when a whole barrage of messages breaks out over a minor issue or a situation, which could have been prevented by a single phone call.
Petr: In the long-run, we have been fostering a culture of mutual help. Every employee should have a fellow feeling with the company and should take helping a colleague as something absolutely natural. There is no internal competition – we work towards our business goals together. It must sound idealistic but we are ready to do everything to achieve that goal.
Lucie: It will no longer be necessary to send “Thank you” or “Good job” e-mails to colleagues because everyone values each other work and everyone knows that. I was a member of a team that implemented a project called “Effectiveness”. We assessed how to best make our work more effective and help others with the same. The idea to reduce the amount of e-mail is one of the outcomes. Until we sat down and analysed things I had not realised how and where I was wasting not only my but also the company’s time. Now I have a clear idea and can devote the saved time to my family.
Petr: We are very accommodating towards our employees and when someone is working on a large project and needs to focus without distractions, we grant them home office – we want them to have the conditions to do a good job.
Lucie: For instance, I like sitting in a café or a garden somewhere when I need my creative moment to write a PR article or a report from a partner meeting. (laughs)
Let’s leave work aside for a while. Petr, I have heard from Lucie that you are a great TV series enthusiast…
Petr: Let me set this straight because I have developed this enthusiasm thanks to Lucie who talked about some series in such an emotional way that I could not resist giving them a chance. Until then, I considered watching series a waste of time. I can confirm that Lucie has a good taste. I fell for it but I do not prefer series longer than 13 episodes, for time reasons. I cannot watch more than one instalment a day. I am much more enthusiastic about computer games…
Oh, really? What do you play?
Petr: At the moment, I avoid computer games – I am afraid of developing an addiction. Otherwise, I am a great fan of Eve Online, a space action game. I fell for games at the very onset of personal computers and I have played on every platform. When I look at modern-day games with amazing graphics, film camera, cutting and dubbing, I must laugh when I recall some of the pixelated puzzles – how could have we played them? (laughs) Then I realised that they were just fun. Recently, I learned on LinkedIn that the cult game Prince of Persia was introduced 25 years ago.
(we recall old games with Petr, different levels and cheats, Lucie watches us, shaking her head uncomprehendingly). These days, I usually play short, fast-paced games on the tablet. Most recently I tried Hearthstone – an excellent affair!
Lucie: Petr’s son is almost a game pro, by the way…
Petr: Indeed – he plays the diamond league in League of Legends and has been trying to convince me that it is one of the first steps towards becoming a professional. He is not 18 yet, so he cannot do it for money but we shall see what happens in the future. He may be right. Anyhow, when I watch him play, I haven’t got a clue what is happening on the screen and why…
Lucie: If we get back to TV series, I would definitely recommend House of Cards, starring Kevin Spacey. I have also heard much praise about Orange Is the New Black, which I am going to try. (smiles)
And those who have not seen Homeland yet, don’t know what they are missing. I am starting the fourth season and believe that it is going to be another great drama.
Petr: We use our internal social network to share tips about TV series where Lucie sometimes posts her recommendations. Most recently, she shared excellent tips from the autumn programming of Czech public-service TV – both The Invisible and The Life and Era of Judge A.K. are really great!
Let me return to business: Where do you think the market is heading and how will the position of VAD’s evolve?
Petr: I have heard many, many opinions and an infinite number of contradictory predictions. One of them was, basically, a return to the VA reseller model, with distribution being just a game of logistics. I believe contrariwise, that the role of VAD’s will strengthen. The market is growing more complex and it will become more difficult to succeed… Our plans are centred around growth and professionalization – we would like our people, who focus on a particular product, to be the greatest experts and professionals in the best sense of the word. They should know the situation on the market, be aware of opportunities and assist our partners with any issue. Such people will be needed because when you look at the market, there is an incredible number of brands, prices, actions and benefits. Obviously, the client may be confused. We would like to build such ties with partners that they will not hesitate to contact us and we would advise them regardless of whether it will bring good business for us or not.
Lucie: When I returned from the maternity leave a year ago, I did not expect ICT to change so radically and to permeate so deep. And it was not just the market but our company, too, evolved over the year of my absence so that I was afraid how I would be able to catch up. For instance, our portfolio expanded with the addition of several major global vendors, we have introduced satisfaction surveys, focused on PR more closely, have been holding an increasing number of events for our partners and helping them organise events for their clients. I am able to handle all that thanks to support from my colleagues, so that I can plunge into new interesting projects. We continue growing and we are doing very well. (laughs)
Have you got any message for our readers?
Petr: They have very good taste if they read Reseller Magazine! And if they like our presentation here, we will be happy to welcome them among our partners.
Lucie: Come and work with us. We do have something to offer!