<strong>What connects women, men and artificial intelligence in business management? Interview with Urszula Graczyk, CFO of Keylite RW Polska and creator of the ULA’S HOME development space</strong>

What connects women, men and artificial intelligence in business management? Interview with Urszula Graczyk, CFO of Keylite RW Polska and creator of the ULA’S HOME development space

Is it much harder for woman entrepreneurs time than men when it comes to obtaining funding from investors, or do they use other sources of funding?

Women are effectively looking for various sources of financing their business. They start their own companies because they want to run them on their own terms, and they are even more independent. My personal experience shows that it is worth starting with smaller projects and then obtaining financing from investors for a project already in the development phase. A well-thought-out strategy allows you to save on fiscal burdens.

For example, the project that I used for my first business when setting up JDG covered the costs of PLN 20,000 at the start. Another B2B project, which is a continuation of the first one, covered the investment costs in ULA’S HOME. The savings resulting from this B2B project, compared to full-time work, are about PLN 150-200 thousand per year.

Currently, it is also worth noting and mentioning a very popular project, which are Local Support Groups (LGD), based on human, cultural, natural, historical resources, etc. Thus, projects with sustainable development and environmental protection in their strategy have a better chance of obtaining financing from investors. LGD finance the start of activity, i.e. investments in fixed assets and renovation and construction works. The amounts of support range from PLN 50,000 – 100,000, up to a maximum of PLN 300,000, but the aid intensity does not exceed 70% of the costs incurred and is in the form of a refund.

And this is not the only one, but one of many projects available on the market.

Each person has an equal chance of obtaining external financing, regardless of whether it is non-repayable aid or with an assumed rate of return for the investor. It all depends on the chosen strategy, vision, culture and rhythm of the business venture. The most important is the way of thinking, as well as bonds with investors, social purpose and our personal efficiency in business, embedded in the role of CXO.

How do women create social capital in their careers and how do they use their networks? Do they care less about them than men?

Women have more developed ties and affiliation to social groups such as clubs and associations. Networking, i.e. the constant need for development, becomes a natural way for them to build relationships in order to develop their business. Contacts also serve as recommendations and broadening the vision of existence in a world full of new technologies, changes in customer preferences and expectations. Commitment to sustainability makes women more accessible and visible on social media. They are also willing to build their own image (personal branding). They always keep an eye on both pros and cons. A motivating leadership attitude strengthens social relations and trust. And this, in turn, is the most important in managing people, empathy  for their needs and meeting these needs, including development.

Men also create social capital, but they do it differently, perhaps more courageously and with more openness, but less empathic.

In business, the common denominator for both sexes is diversity in thinking and decision-making. If we don’t get to know a person’s point of view well, we won’t understand their attitude and we won’t be able to engage in deeper interaction. Then we’ll have a different point of view, our own perspective, and that’s not the point. It’s about compromising your emotions and thoughts to see more.

This is my reflection related to belonging to clubs and networking meetings.

Have you met a mentor on your way in business, someone who helped you stand out?

I met great mentors who helped me move to the next level and did not let me go down. Thanks to this, my two cerebral hemispheres, right and left, complement each other in thinking from different levels of understanding, which allowed me to get to know myself and experience myself in other areas, especially in the so-called design thinking. I recommend working on your thoughts in at least 5 areas of responsibility, because they are what distinguish the best leaders. As CFO, I often made decisions alone. I believe that somewhere these thoughts need to be released for balance. Our minds, body and soul are like financial statements that inform us about our condition, fitness, efficiency and profitability.

I recommend business mentoring processes for both mentors and mentee. I am currently using the support of the LiderShe Association, a special program dedicated to graduates of the LiderShe Women’s Leadership Academy, for three years now. My previous mentors were Dr. Anna Kieszkowska-Grudny, Olga Grygier-Siddons and Iwona Murphy.

AI is good at analytics or finance, but it lacks emotional intelligence. Does the future of leadership then belong to women?

Transformation in finance, driven by data with the participation of AI (artificial intelligence), including multidimensional analytics, is the foundation and key approach, as well as everyday work of not only women, but also men who act as CFOs. This allows for greater productivity and strategic planning. However, the key to success is a strong team and a skilful combination of business and technical knowledge. The still low presence of women in the IT industry leads to the creation of many re-industry programs, including innovation, new technologies and AI dedicated to women.

Therefore, the main role of the CFO is to develop the team, get used to digital transformation and the dynamically changing environment. There is one conclusion – we as humans have an advantage over AI, and we can constantly develop our emotional intelligence (EQ) on many levels. According to many reports and studies, women are more open to developing and combining hard data, such as statistical research, sales results and market analysis, with soft data, such as loose thoughts, emotions, opinions and reflections. Their constant inspiration for development makes self-awareness, continuous improvement of our EQ and greater openness to multitasking a major business differentiator.

Including women in the “Top Management Strategy” and supplementing the composition of management and supervisory boards will significantly facilitate a smooth transition to the world of new technologies, such as AI, robotization and new cloud solutions, which are currently the biggest challenges. This is the future and the perspective for the next 10 years! Therefore, let’s strengthen business together without barriers and restrictions, respecting and trusting both sexes.

Answering the question, leadership belongs to both women and men. Let’s give ourselves equal space to act. We will achieve much more in our businesses and their growth, looking not only at financial results.

Urszula Graczyk – for over 25 years associated with the production sector: clothing industry, packaging industry, construction industry. Currently CFO at Keylite RW Polska Sp. z o. o. Originator of the ULA’S HOME development space, which has been offering i.a. coaching and mentoring support in reading financial statements for the managerial staff and dealing with personal development in leadership and management.

A graduate of the first edition of the LiderShe Women’s Leadership Academy at the Kozminski University in Warsaw, as well as studies in the field of Psychology of Management and Managerial Coaching at the WSB University in Poznań. She also completed Leadership and Delegation and Coaching and Mentoring training at Franklin University in Columbus, Ohio, USA.

The first captain in the APK LiderShe Alumni Club at Kozminski University.

Creator of her own approach to life, constantly following fashion, psychology in management, travel and active outdoor recreation.

Last Updated on March 8, 2023 by Anastazja Lach