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Andrzej Cebrat Of GIP Development SARL On How To Take Your Company From Good To Great

Keep your eye on your goal. There will be plenty of moments where you can fall into the trap of becoming distracted from your goal. It is easy to get bogged down in tasks or issues that do not drive you to your goal.

As part of my series about the “How to Take Your Company from Good to Great”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Andrzej Cebrat.

Managing Director at GIP Development SARL (the Blaupunkt brand owner) and Aurelius Group initiatives in Luxemburg, Andrzej Cebrat has over 20 years of experience in market expansion in North America, South America, and East Europe. Managing multinational businesses, he has successfully built-up assets at worldwide intellectual property businesses in brand licensing and equity structures. Additionally, Cebrat is responsible for private equity, multi-asset investments and developing real estate partnerships based in Luxembourg.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?

I joined Blaupunkt at the end of 1999 as a Sales Representative. Throughout the years I worked my way up through the ranks of this fantastic team developing sales solutions worldwide. By 2009, Blaupunkt was in the middle of a spin-off from the parent company to a new owner. During this transition we found that the best way to develop great brand equity was to completely transform the business model. It was at this point that we researched different options and selected licensing. I stand by that decision to this day.

Can you tell us a story about the hard times that you faced when you first started your journey? Did you ever consider giving up? Where did you get the drive to continue even though things were so hard?

I will not mince my words; it is difficult to drive a multinational, global business. However, I never thought about giving up. In business there are always going to be difficult times. It is up to you to take it up as a problem or to take it on as a challenge. I believe it is about your mindset.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘takeaways’ you learned from that?

A long time ago I was on a business trip through multiple destinations across Asia, ending at a trade show. Myself and my colleague were exhausted, and we both were certain that our flight was at 5am. So, after a long day we went back to our hotel at about midnight and took what can only be described as a nap as opposed to sleep. We woke up at 3am, checked out of our hotel and headed directly to the airport. Upon arrival we were informed that we could not yet check into our flight. It turns out our tickets were for 5pm not 5am. This was a relatively low-pressure mistake; we just had to wait at the airport for 14 hours. However, it taught me that the devil is in the details. If given the opportunity we would have relished the ability to sleep-in, enjoy a meal on our way to the airport, and have traveled more relaxed. From there on out I took the carpenters philosophy — measure twice, cut once.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

I believe that there are three main contributing factors that make us stand out.

The first is our team. We have this great team that is engaged with our purpose and goals. Everyone takes on their responsibilities with pride and is committed to discussing the results.

The second is our fantastic partners. We have partners who hail from all around the world. It is a unique opportunity to work with and learn from different business cultures. I think this adds to our ability to translate to new and different markets.

Last, but not least, is the near decade-long German heritage brand. In Chinese the translation of Blaupunkt can be understood as “Blue Treasure”. It was very rewarding to discover that in China we have one of the highest brand rapports among consumers.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Keep your eye on your goal. There will be plenty of moments where you can fall into the trap of becoming distracted from your goal. It is easy to get bogged down in tasks or issues that do not drive you to your goal. I recommend that you take a moment, recollect what your purpose or goal is as often as you can. You should remain open to making changes and be ready to drive your development.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I have always felt lucky to have inspirational figures along my career path. I have found myself surrounded time and time again by great business individuals with clear goals who would inspire others towards improvements and provide advice. I would be very difficult for me to name one out of the many that have guided me on my career journey. My advice for anyone looking for guidance in your career is to look for someone who embodies the type of professional you aspire to be and see what advice they can provide.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. The title of this series is “How to take your company from good to great”. Let’s start with defining our terms. How would you define a “good” company, what does that look like? How would you define a “great” company, what does that look like?

I believe that a good company knows it is successful, whereas a great company recognizes where its success comes from. A good company may have a skilled staff, whereas a great company will have an engaged and talented team. While a good company may find problems within their business model, a great company will be open to the challenge and take responsibility. The difference between good and great is nuanced. However, I do believe that a big part of it is recognizing the strengths of your team and being open to understanding what is at the core of your success.

Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things one should know in order to lead a company from Good to Great? Please share a story or an example for each.

I’ve spoken about this before. I believe it is critical that you are open to challenges and prepared to take responsibility. Ultimately, when things get tough, you may need to make it by yourself.

I believe one of the most important things you can do is find yourself a team of engaged individuals. When you are running up against a timeline or you’re in the middle of solving a business challenge, being surrounded and supported by a team of engaged individuals can make all of the difference.

Delegate. Delegate. Delegate. I have curated a team of people with a very diverse background and competencies, and I would recommend that any company seeking to be great do the same. When I am trying to accomplish a task seeking input from and delegating to my team is imperative.

By this point you have surrounded yourself with a team of individuals who are open to conquering challenges, who are engaged, and who you are comfortable delegating to. I also believe that it is important for you and this team to be entrepreneurial in every aspect of your business. What I mean by that is I take ownership for, and I empower my team to take ownership for every aspect of their business activities.

Finally, and I cannot stress this enough, it is not enough to know that your organization is successful. It is so important to recognize where success is coming from. You may find that your success is coming from exactly where you thought it was. However, every now and then you will be surprised.

Extensive research suggests that “purpose driven businesses” are more successful in many areas. Can you help articulate for our readers a few reasons why a business should consider becoming a purpose driven business, or consider having a social impact angle?

Having a purpose-driven business or having a social impact angle are both concepts that in the long run are the most rewarding. Business is done between people and for people. Sometimes I fear that businesses forget this fact. It is important to remember the very human aspect of being in business. Building a business model that is purpose-driven or has a social impact premise leans into the very human nature that is at the core of business. I believe all business activities should keep social impact in mind and I believe that defining these helps an organization to be aware and focus on common goals, which is a key factor to success.

What would you advise to a business leader who initially went through years of successive growth, but has now reached a standstill. From your experience do you have any general advice about how to boost growth and “restart their engines”?

Never stop. Never stop moving forward. If you are at a standstill, you are moving backwards. I recommend that you investigate a change of strategy or tactics.

Generating new business, increasing your profits, or at least maintaining your financial stability can be challenging during good times, even more so during turbulent times. Can you share some of the strategies you use to keep forging ahead and not lose growth traction during a difficult economy?

We should never forget that even in difficult times there is opportunity. When we are creating relationships and building a business in difficult times, we are building a foundation for better times. I believe in learning from our competitors and the market overall. My team and I go over these lessons and we use it to help define our individual strategy. You also need to remember where your business was created, this goes back to if you realize where your company is successful then you need to understand where that success stems from.

In your experience, which aspect of running a company tends to be most underestimated? Can you explain or give an example?

There are several aspects to consider. I believe we should never underestimate a positive attitude and the value of setting goals.

As you know, “conversion” means to convert a visit into a sale. In your experience what are the best strategies a business should use to increase conversion rates?

When considering conversation rates, it is important to remember that every business is different. A good conversion rate for some may be 50% while for others it might be 3%. In our business we measure our success by partnerships. For us having a trusted brand, Blaupunkt, is very beneficial. However, one of the most important skills to hone, to increase conversion rates, it to be a better listener. Truly hearing the real needs of potential prospects can be invaluable in increasing your conversion rates.

Of course, the main way to increase conversion rates is to create a trusted and beloved brand. Can you share a few ways that a business can earn a reputation as a trusted and beloved brand?

In many regions worldwide we have secured a trusted legacy through the Blaupunkt brand. We have managed to do this, in large part, through partnerships. The Blaupunkt brand already has nearly a decade’s worth of heritage rooted in high quality products at an affordable price. Our exposure is benefitted by every top-quality product that our partners introduce to their respective markets. Every time a quality Blaupunkt product hits the shelf, it further solidifies our position as an affordable premium brand that consumers know and trust. Thanks to the successful introduction of our core products, we have been able to develop a natural connection to many other “non-core” categories. These additional categories, such as E-mobility or photovoltaics which are new to the brand, have been seeing a lot of success because consumers have confidence in the Blaupunkt brand.

Great customer service and great customer experience are essential to build a beloved brand and essential to be successful in general. In your experience what are a few of the most important things a business leader should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience?

Blaupunkt is an affordable premium brand. This means that we ensure that every product that hits the market fits this niche. We want our customers to know that they can trust and expect the same level of quality and design regardless of the Blaupunkt product they snag from their local retailer.

What are the most common mistakes you have seen CEOs & founders make when they start a business? What can be done to avoid those errors?

I have three pieces of advice. The first is to never forget where your biggest potential is and aim for it.

The second is to remember that real marketing means that you should listen to what is needed and address it properly. Finally, do not underestimate the power of a good team driving towards success. This is a huge mistake. Build yourself a diverse team that is engaged in your business, open to taking responsibility on their projects and to whom you are comfortable delegating to. This will be invaluable to you as you start your business.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I would love to find opportunities to support businesses and businesspeople in developing regions. Especially those in regions that are having trouble with debt and growth.

How can our readers further follow you online?

Blaupunkt-licensing.com where they can find a lot of inspiring case studies and the Blaupunkt Global Brand Community LinkedIn Page!

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for the time you spent with this!

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