Past event

Executive talent, executive development

The BPCC’s HR policy group is exceedingly busy this quarter. The day after the group met to discuss pay and productivity, it met again on 6 October to look at aspects of the Polish market for executives.


Natalia Pisarek, head of Deloitte’s Human Capital Consulting Team outlined the main trends and challenges facing business leaders in Poland today. Among them was the need to manage Generation Y – the youngest workers, who have different expectations and aspirations to their older peers. This challenge needs to be managed, she said, with greater deployment of soft skills. “Taking a long-term perspective and developing your people is crucial,” said Ms Pisarek. There are not enough managers aged 35 to 45 with the charisma and strategic thinking on the market. “Leaders don’t know how to develop new people – nor do they think it’s important,” she said. 


Ms Pisarek dwelled on the differences between male and female managers, a subject that would be the theme of a separate policy group meeting on 5 November. Based on a survey of managers carried out by Deloitte [click to open presentation], she said that women are better at developing talent. Ms Pisarek offered tips for senior managers: “Give more time to managers to develop their staff. Simplify information – crucial in an age of information overload. Reduce the number of meetings.” She gave the example of a company where 8 out of 90 people in the HR department worked on nothing else than organising meetings. “Develop soft skills,” she underlined. 


The question of what senior managers can do to lower staff turnover was also raised. “People leave for a better corporate culture, for a working environment with less pressure, less stress.” 


Marcin Rosochacki, partner at Arthur Hunt Search & HR Consulting, said that the charisma deficit often results from the virtual world that business increasingly inhabits. “Leaders don’t see their staff face-to-face often enough, they are more focused on short-term financial results than on building sustainable corporate culture.” When it comes to mergers and acquisitions, the top factor when it comes to valuation of a business is the strength of its management team, said Mr Rosochacki. There is a risk of not developing management talent, he said. “Over the next three to five years, 70% of today’s CEOs will be stepping down. Given that 55% of leaders are recruited internally, this is very important. It takes 29 months on average to develop a high-potential middle manager to be ready to take up a senior leadership position,” he said.


Mr Rosochacki also covered the phenomenon of the mobile manager, the corporate traveller in the era of globalised business. Increasingly, Poland is becoming a hub for the whole CEE region, with top managers accountable for five or more countries, having to span cultural differences. He also said that to Generation Y, age and title no longer automatically equate to authority. 

Issues of leadership and top executive talent are strategically important to Poland. How can the country create the right climate for investment? Will Poland be an operational economy, home to outsourced operations for others, or a strategic economy, from which innovation and creativity drive business growth, asked Mr Rosochacki.


The theme of executive development was expanded upon by Prof Jan Nowak from the IBD Business School. He began by setting the context – the global war for talent, and increased mobility of top management talent. Prof Nowak confirmed what Mr Rosochacki had said – demographic factors meant that 50% of top managers face retirement in the next two to three years. The pipeline for their replacements is inadequate. The answer is to elevate the HR function to the board-level; those countries in which this is happening, he said, are those that are better at developing the pipeline. “It is better to develop your talent than seeking outside.”


Prof Nowak outlined the role of the Executive MBA course in the armoury of leadership development. “The EMBA was born in 1943, 35 years after Harvard launched the first MBA course,” he said. EMBAs turn managers into CEOs. The typical student has 15 to 17 years of business experience. It is essential that the student has something to contribute to the other classmates. EMBA students are better motivated and are often supported by their employers. In return, the students will often carry out projects for their employers – such as working on real-life case studies, and able to apply on a Monday what they have learned over the weekend. Students can often learn more from one another than from their professors. Networking is essential. Because the aim is to create CEOs, students come from various disciplines – finance, marketing, production, and sectors, so the exchange of experiences and best practice is all important.


Prof Nowak explained the characteristics of EMBA students. “They must have the right motivation, driven by curiosity and determination; their active engagement in the studies leads to insights, which are tested in their Master’s thesis,” he said. “Past performance is easy to measure, but leadership potential is more difficult to assess.” 


The BPCC and IBD Business School are launching a competitive scholarship programme for BPCC member firms, with the successful candidate winning a scholarship worth 12,000 zlotys.


The panel discussion opened up as a dialogue with all policy group participants. The topic of Generation Y employees returned – and what motivates them. It is far less money, now more about personal development, said Adam Piekarski, managing partner of Arthur Hunt in Poland. “They have lost faith in corporations and corporate leaders, they don’t want to be managed; they are turning away from an authoritarian style of leadership. Trust is key,” he said. “Eighty per cent of young people want to change jobs every two years. There is a lack of programmes to retain people,” said Mr Piekarski.  “People quit bad bosses.” 


Assessment of employees was another hot topic. The trend to have increasingly complex assessment programmes, annually, half-yearly or even quarterly, was criticised as being ineffective and taking up too much time. “Alpha Kids demand fast feedback – like they get from computer games,” said Mr Rosochacki. The concept of gamification – or grywalizacja in Polish, is more effective than traditional staff appraisal processes when it comes to the youngest workers. 


Another well-worn formula that’s up for review is Management By Objective (MBO) with is focus on fixed goals and quarterly bonuses. All too often, the MBO system leads to a distorted strategy that ignores longer-term imperatives such as staff development and ability to manage the unexpected. 


Finally, there was a discussion about the role of algorithms in HR, looking for trends and patterns. Staff turnover, for example, should be analysed to see if too many people are leaving from one particular manager. Analysis of factors such as pay rises, overtime or sick leave is also instructive.


After the panel discussion, there was time for face-to-face networking and swapping of business cards – the event certainly raised many fascinating issues and the value of the meeting for HR professionals was clear.

If you are interested in applying for a BPCC/IBD scholarship for an executive MBA course, please submit your application to the IBD Executive MBA Programme (form available on, alongside your cover letter applying for a scholarship


BPCC supply and demand
Developing Executive Talent - BPCC - final
Leadership - Natalia Pisarek - Deloitte

Keywords coverage, meeting
Policy Groups
2015-10-06, 09:30 am

Venue: British Embassy, ul. Kawalerii 12, Warsaw
Organiser: British Polish Chamber of Commerce