Magazine
16:36 11 October 2021
Post by: Warsaw Business Journal

AN OPPORTUNITY

"I NEVER CONSIDERED IT A RISK,” SAYS JEAN-MICHEL NAMAND, NATEK CEO, ABOUT THE BEGINNING OF STARTING A COMPANY 17 YEARS AGO.

AN OPPORTUNITY

WBJ: Having an established position in France, in 2004, you decided to take a risk and open a company in the Czech Republic. What motivated you to take such a risk?

JMN: It was never a risk for me. When I got the possibility to open a business in Brno, I did not consider it a risk, but an opportunity. Why there? I started my first company in France in 1993. The market was already mature with big players on stage. When I arrived in the Czech Republic, I understood that this market was yet to grow. I knew that my 20 years of experience in IT would be a massive advantage. I signed a five-year contract with IBM to assist them in the settlement of the first DC in this region. At this time, there was literally nothing there. It was even difficult to find an office space in Brno to rent. Then, after one year we were already a team of 120 people.


Research suggests that “purpose-driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. When your company started, what was its vision?

The vision was to be one of the biggest locally-based providers of IT services within the next 20 years. NATEK’s objective has always been to work with international clients but to be a CEE company. When I established NATEK, there were no such companies, only the international enterprises trying to launch in CEE. Now we operate and deliver our services in Poland, Slovakia, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic.


So, what made you believe that you would be successful when the international companies were opening their branches in CEE?

First of all, when global companies are coming to Central Europe, it’s not to keep working with the same providers and partners. Why should they? Companies like NATEK are more flexible, more affordable and offer the same quality of service. What is more, we have the knowledge of the local market with better notoriety.


And what about the challenges?

We are a local company but we are facing global competition. French companies can provide services for French clients. Here, there are almost no local clients needing projects and resources on such a scale. All our customers are international companies, and the decision-making process takes place in their headquarters. That also means we need a lot of employees with jobs that are new in CEE. We have to train the employees and let them gain experience. It takes time but if you don’t have a good team around you, you will not succeed.


Will you tell us about your favorite moments in NATEK’s history? What are you proud of?

I must say celebrating our first 10 years anniversary was definitely touching. I got to visit every one of our nine branches and meet everybody in person. I am proud that we have created a NATEK community of people who have been working with us for many years. Even if they leave, they stay in touch with each other and with the company. After all, it’s all about the people you work with, so I am proud of my employee’s successes, of every new project, and every new customer who trusts us.


How did you transform a company from a small start-up into an international enterprise serving the largest global brands?

It all comes down to the management. Especially in companies like NATEK that operates in multiple countries, the management is a never-ending story. The real challenge for every successful company is to build a good management team. It simply has to be done right. In the beginning, I was trying to manage everything on my own. Now I know that I have to count on people to manage parts of the organization with me. One of the biggest challenges is to make sure that your visions are passed down to this army that is making it work.


Generating new business, increasing the company’s profits, and at least maintaining financial stability can be challenging during good times. How can a leader make plans when the future is unpredictable? 

I don’t think making business has changed much during these 40 years that I’m working in it. Of course, there are periods that are worse than others, some are better, but in the end, we always have to know what our customers are doing and anticipate what we can do for them. The very important factor to always be successful in business is also to have the right people because the quality of our business is the quality of our people. 


Is this how your measure success – by quality? 

I believe that the success of the company is always measured by the results, which finally translate to revenue and profit. Because even if you provide the best service in the world but at the end of the day you are not profitable, you will not stay in the market for a long time.


What goals are you still working towards?

We have one goal we’d like to achieve at the moment which is to drive the revenue to €100 million annually. That is why we increased drastically our sales organization — to move the company to the next level. That, of course, includes expanding our business in Poland, but also to increase our international activities and drive more customers directly from abroad.


Based on your experience, what tip would you give to other entrepreneurs hoping to grow their businesses?

When I was leaving IBM, I was managing 200 people. Everyone was surprised and thought I was crazy, but I was never afraid. You only live once, so you should never be afraid of creating something new. It is important to grab opportunities whenever possible.



For JEAN-MICHEL NAMAND, an entrepreneur by heart, starting a new company in a different country was never a risk, but an opportunity. Thanks to his innovative thinking and bold initiatives, he has been implementing innovation throughout his whole career. As CEO of NATEK, he has seen the company’s purpose to support customers’ IT systems and solutions from the developing CEE region.


ibm
natek
jean-michel namand

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