Adam Pawlowicz, 46, is CEO of Skorpion Security. As a manager, he has 10 years experience in marketing, communication and general management. Before launching his business career, he was a television and newspaper journalist, presenting weekly current affairs programmes on Polish television and reporting on political and social news.
Skorpion Security is currently in the process of merging with Konsalnet JSC and he will be the new firm’s chairman and CEO.
You are the CEO of Skorpion Security. Can you tell me about them?
Skorpion is one of Poland’s leading security companies. It was set up 15 years ago and grew significantly over time. It specializes in two areas: manguarding and monitoring. It provides monitoring services to more than 30,000 individual and business customers and is the third largest company in Poland in this area. The company was taken over by a private equity fund last year. I was headhunted as CEO by the fund and joined the company in December last year.
What is this about a merger?
Skorpion is Poland’s number five security firm in terms of revenue (€40m) and Konsalnet is number three. Konsalnet specializes in cash handling and works for eight of the top 10 banks in Poland. The resulting company will be Poland’s number two security firm, with the potential to consolidate a fragmented Polish security market.
What is your background and work history?
Well, security is a new area for me. For the past three years I was ceo of Ruch SA, Poland’s largest press distributor and retailer, similar to WH Smith. It was previously a state-owned and mismanaged company. I initiated a restructure, turned it around and prepared an IPO in 2006, which became a big success for the company. Ruch is listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.
It turns over € 1bn a year and employs 6,000 people, distributing to over 8,000 of its own shops and kiosks, plus some 30,000 retail outlets; so it’s pretty similar to the new merged company, in terms of size. That has been my biggest career achievement so far.
I hear you were a journalist and appeared on television. What did you write/speak about?
That’s right. I was a journalist for about 10 years and had a weekly current affairs programme on television and a newspaper column. I became a deputy editor-in-chief and reported on all the top political events. I specialized in politics and business and had the opportunity to move into politics.
What happened, what was your career strategy?
Well, I didn’t really have a strategy, but more a vision of what I wanted to do. Becoming somewhat bored with journalism, I had a choice between politics and business. I decided business was more predictable. So I took an MBA in economics. It took two years, at the Warsaw School of Economics on the joint program with the University of Calgary, Canada. That was tough, as I was still working as a journalist. In 1999 I headed up the Polish Agency for Foreign Investment (PAIZ), the national agency promoting foreign direct investment (FDI). PAIZ was at that time the second largest FDI agency in Europe. Then I moved to the US law firm, White & Case, as a marketing and business development director. In the meantime, I was serving on several supervisory boards: the Polish Press Agency, the Polish newswire service provider, TVP Polish public television and PKN Orlen, a Polish oil producer and distributor. I then became CEO of Ruch.
How is Poland equipped to cope with the current recession and how does it compare to other countries?
I think it is better placed than almost any other country. Poland and Cyprus are the only two EU markets with positive growth in the first quarter of the year. Last year Poland showed significant growth, this year it has recorded a significant slowdown, although it has not technically fallen into a recession yet.
Compared to the countries around it, Poland might seem an oasis of growth, but unemployment has grown to 11%, partly because of the problems faced by Germany, our biggest neighbour and export market.
Who do you consider the most influential Pole of all time?
Without a doubt, Pope John Paul II.
He had a huge impact on Polish society and is still an authoritative voice, even among people who never knew him. Young people still learn all about him.
Do you have any vices?
I am a news addict. I’m a heavy watcher of television, any news and current affairs.
What is your favourite book/film?
That’s difficult because I read so much. Well, Heart of Darkness, by Joseph Conrad would definitely be up there, as well as Pan Cogito (Mr. Cogito), by Polish contemporary poet Zbigniew Herbert. But the Bible will be no1.
What else do you do to relax?
I spend time with my family. I have three children and we go cycling together. I also enjoy travel, whether it’s through Poland or abroad. I’m also a fan of kayaking and skiing, but especially windsurfing. I’m really a surfer…