Michał Sapota: Development, development and development again. Interview with CEO of HRE Investments
What forecasts do you see for the Polish economy in the light of recent global events?
We are in a very difficult moment, which will probably last several months more. Operating in uncertainty, mainly with regard to administrative decisions in our country, as well as in the most developed countries, which are crucial for global development, is not favorable to the economy.
I believe that as a country we have enormous growth potential. Important communication routes intersect here, therefore the development of road, rail, sea and air infrastructure will make us, as a country, more and more attractive in terms of business. The following are also key factors: energy transformation, thermal energy, transformation of Silesia, development of housing. These are changes that must be co-financed by our country from its own resources as well as from foreign sources, I do not mean only EU subsidies.
Planned coverage of the entire country with Internet access, creating conditions for every child to have access to a computer. This is very important, and this should be followed by education, and from an early age, in line with trends and the actual need for skills in a changing world.
These are just a few important elements essential for economic development that require enormous outlays. These, of course, will pay off in time. Stable employment and wage increases will generate increasing internal consumption. This, in turn, will increase domestic business investment and attract foreign investors. The growing strength of our companies will result in export expansion in trade and services. Our state giants, after consolidation, can easily pretend to be the main players in the markets of Central and Eastern Europe, to the Balkans, and over time, become important players on the economic map of Europe.
I believe that this global confusion may be a kind of civilization breakthrough for Poland. It is important to only deal with this, but I am afraid that politicians will drown in small matters that do not matter much to the majority of society.
What prospects do you see for your company for the next three months, half a year, a year?
Development, development and development again. In terms of business, we are, you could say, at the beginning of the road, we have expansion plans for the whole of Poland, as well as selected European countries. People need apartments that are new, modern and comfortable. It was, is and will be. Own apartment is an investment, not a burden and unnecessary expense as often you can read. This is known to the wealthiest of this world and it is incomprehensible to me to persuade people that the opposite is true.
The development of the organization is also important. We are constantly increasing employment, working on process automation. We as a company must grow and develop to meet business goals, but also to feel satisfied with what we do.
What, in your opinion, should be changed or improved to run business better in Poland?
You can probably write a few thick books on this subject. In the simplest terms, the authority should create conditions, and therefore set strategic goals and stimulate them through simple law, quick administrative procedures and partial financial support. Such interference of the state in the present reality is necessary for rapid development, both inside the country and in relations with other countries. Governments must open export doors for our companies, because we have a new reality and more and more opportunities in markets that were previously unavailable. Business should be given maximum freedom within the prescribed law.
What is the worst thing that could happen to your company in the market environment? The greatest fear?
Long-term shutdown of the economy. I mean few months. Nobody survives this, but I assume policymakers are aware of it and it will not happpen. If the situation is no worse than it is today, then it should be okay. The dust after the pandemic will slowly begin to fall, and in six months everything will return to its old tracks. The stimulation of the economy promised by the government should help in this. I see the greatest risk in authorities’ overreacting about the coronavirus. Of course, this does not only apply to Poland.
The most difficult situation you had to face in business?
It’s hard to name one. I found companies that sometimes had problems with financial liquidity. They were due to various reasons. In Murapol, it was the result of the banks’ reaction to the 2008 crisis. It is a monstrous struggle to survive … Company restructuring, cost cutting, renegotiation of contracts. Many months at maximum speed. There is adrenaline, stress, but it is important to say at the end: “we made it”.
What is leadership?
I understand leadership as mentoring and visionary. These are such big words, I don’t like to use them, but they are needed to explain what I mean. On the one hand, you must have a vision of what can be achieved in a given discipline, on the other hand, it must be realized. To achieve the goal, the team must have the freedom, sense of value and competence to implement the vision. This is where mentoring comes in, not just giving simple orders, but supporting the team and its individual members. People should believe they can do this. They must cooperate and also be satisfied with what they are doing. There are no ready-made patents or recipes for this. Both, the leader and team members have specific character traits, predispositions, skills, and all of this requires a different approach, therefore each of them, without exception, should constantly learn, develop, support, understand and respect. It is very hard work and responsibility. Of course, you can read a lot about it and there are different theories … But it is always like this, and it works that if there is good “flow” between the sides, even difficult things seem easy. It is important to have a distance and humility in yourself, be able to admit your mistake, treat people as partners and understand that everyone can have a weaker moment and has the right to make a mistake.
What are the secrets of managing such a large organization?
I have no idea. I always wonder what it is about when someone says they have some secret, supernatural, or learned methods. I have my head that processes the information and then sends the signals on. Seriously, it is important to have a competent team that believes in their abilities. Without it, nothing can be achieved. I would like to come to the status of a self-managing organization. It takes time and a lot of work, but I believe in success. I hope that we will become a fully horizontal organization, based on the quality of processes and interactions of individual teams. We are on the right track because we are definitely going ahead to achieve our goals.
What do you think about artificial intelligence?
I would compare it to nuclear reactors. It was created and developed for the right purposes, although it is difficult to judge where it will lead us and how it will be used. Man in his nature has this something, that even the best invention can create a tool to achieve his own, individual goals, not necessarily serving humanity.
What technological trends will determine the future of business?
The development of artificial intelligence, which will be increasingly used in the automation of machines and devices, and finally – their autonomy. Someday it will come to that, I am sure of it. In such a conservative business as construction, we will come to a situation where buildings will be built without human intervention. It’s just a matter of time. Machines will replace the work of human hands in many professions. We and business must be prepared for this.
An authority council that changed your life?
I do not know whether it is the council of authority, it is difficult for me to point to one. I remembered one, to not to respond under the influence of emotions. It is very valuable.
People from whom you learned the most about life and business?
In life from my parents, and in business from Michał Dziuda, former owner of Murapol and owner of Cavatina.
What’s the best and most inspiring book you have read recently?
I’m in the process of reading “Tesla: Inventor of the Electrical Age” – A great form adopted by the author, because he included not only a description of man and inventions, but, perhaps most of all, gave a new look at the Tesla method – the process of working on inventions and the way to their commercialization. Next: ” Serving the Servant: Remembering Kurt Cobain ” – a sensational biography. Music is important to me and Nirvana holds a special place because at the time it came out I was immersed in death and black metal. From that moment on, my musical interests spread in many directions.
What are your values in life and business?
Straight way – straight and forward. Many people around us constantly try to complicate things unnecessarily, even the simplest things. As it sometimes happens when buying a property or obtaining a credit decision. We complicate the processes unnecessarily. Then I get up from the table. I believe that it is a waste of time and energy to do things just for the sake of doing them. The excess of form over content does not serve any processes.
What makes you feel better? What are some proven ways to fight stress?
I don’t fight stress. I can not fully judge whether I am not stressing or just living under permanent stress. My EKG is normal … In general, I am in a good mood, because I work with a great team of very competent and committed people on a daily basis.
Last Updated on March 23, 2021 by Karolina Ampulska