10 years of Solwit - interview with Leszek Pankiewicz, CEO

Posted: 2021-06-09

Written by: Justyna Cichocka (Recruitment and employer branding Specialist)

The 10th anniversary of Solwit is an excellent opportunity to ask ourselves 10 important questions. About the past, about the future, about the unexpected and about good memories.

We invite you to read the first interview with Leszek Pankiewicz, the CEO of Solwit S.A.


Leszek, why Solwit?

Solwit means for me challenge and an adventure of a lifetime.

After many years of academic and corporate experience, where I struggled with inertia of imperfect decisions and processes, I decided to create the space, where goals, processes and decisions will be reasonable and quick.

The place in which I will be able to cooperate with people of complementary competences, creating values, resulting not only from their knowledge and skills but also from their willingness to cooperate and constantly seek synergy in diversity.

In your opinion, what is the key feature that makes Solwit stand out?

I truly appreciate I can work with people who are not afraid to undertake difficult projects and constantly undermine the status quo, while approving the need for process-based, mature and predictable action. None of us are perfect, we all make mistakes, but we can admit them quickly and try to do better.

I believe that it makes us stand out and gives us a chance to build competitive advantage.

What is the most difficult part of your daily work?

Multitasking – on the one hand, a necessity and responsibility, and on the other hand a great pleasure to actively participate in many challenges, analysis and decision-making processes. The remote work model and the value of easy and direct communication at all levels, which is always important for our company, provide us with tools that significantly reduce communication barriers.

I am a huge fan of such operating model, but on the other hand, I know that working simultaneously with a dozen people and problems – from strategically important for the company’s fate to those less strategic, but urgent and important for many current projects, I become a bottleneck in many decision making processes.

What surprised you in Solwit?

On a positive note – people –  their competences, professionalism, taking responsibility as well as business and life maturity of the vast majority of our employees and managers. Of course, not everything works out, not every goal is achieved, but I know that people try to identify themselves with the company and our values ​​and do everything in their power to achieve our common intentions, plans and goals.

On a negative note – the dynamics of changes in the environment, to which we have to react in a way that I did not anticipate 10 years ago – this of course applies not only to Solwit but as my current life challenges are mostly focused on Solwit, hence this point of reference in relation to everything our current government serves us with, pandemic challenges, workers’ expectations.

What are you most proud of?

I am proud of what we have achieved together in each year of Solwit’s operations. Each of them was different, people appeared (or departed), each year required huge professionalism in finding and implementing projects – in this area my pride is the greatest, because it relates to the effectiveness of Solwit’s people.

I am proud of the maturity of our company and readiness to operate on a much larger scale – I have mentioned people many times, but one also needs to appreciate and be proud of the many made from scratch and implemented processes in each of the areas of our business activity.

At the moment, as an organization, we are very well prepared for quick changes and effective operation in each of the 3 strategic development options:

(1) organic growth, (2) business partnership (merge) with companies similar to us or filling our competency gaps, (3) entering into strategic cooperation with one of the global technology companies (acquisition).

If you could change your position for a week, what would you like to do?

I would like to become the CEO of one of our existing or new big clients in order to make a decision on signing a contract on delivering 100 times bigger order of Solwit’s services.

And after making that decision, I would love to go back where I am and have it fulfilled.

Who is Solwit a perfect choice for? (what kind of people feel good with us)?

I hope that every Solwit employee and contractor feels good with us. I would like our technological challenges – those resulting from contracts with clients or those related to the development of our own products – to have enormous gravity, attracting super professionals to us, to whom we will give a chance for their development and satisfaction of doing things that the world needs.

I would like each of them to appreciate Solwit’s culture and our honesty towards all employees, clients and shareholders. I know we employ a lot of such people and I hope there will be many more of them thanks to our determination to develop and improve many things in the company.

The beginnings in Solwit, what do you remember, perhaps you would like to tell us a story?

I remember very vividly – we had a coffee with Wojtek Wasiukiewicz in one of the restaurants based in Gdansk – Matarnia. We decided then, it was high time to end our “post-Intel vacation” and try to do something useful for the world. Our first idea – right after this coffee – was the EDUKOM concept. We wanted to create the world’s best educational software (Young Digital Planet and the newly created Learnetic were right next door), build a laptop factory in Poland and compete with Apple and Kindle on the European education market.

I’d like to remind you that it was the time of growing popularity of Kindle (e-ink) and the first iPad launch onto the global market – with a very high price and with a limited volume of available applications.

We thought that we were able to do it better and cheaper by combining e-ink technology (offers from Taiwan were already on our table) with the LMS platform (Learnetic was also ready to help us) and building a factory in Poland that had never existed before. Fortunately for us and the world, before taking actual actions and investments, we made a solid business plan, which we consulted with several experienced people in the hi-tech and technology production market.

The real breakthrough was a meeting in Warsaw – with Ryszard Malinowski, then vice-president of Intel Corp and Chipset Group Director-General, who pointed out the huge risks of this project (competition with Apple, low chances of competing with China and Taiwan in terms of costs) and Janusz Liberkowski, the winner of the “American Inventor ” competition for the best amateur inventor in the United States for the invention of “Anecia Safety Capsule “, who told us about investment barriers in Poland (factory!).

After re-reviewing the business plan, we decided to drop EDUKOM project and start a service operation that required much less investment and responded to the growing global demand. Back then we already realized we were immersing in the “red ocean”, but that is a completely different story.

How – or maybe where – do you see Solwit in 10 years?

I think we will be part of a much larger organization that we will build with several (merge) local partners or one (strategic M&A) global partner.

I would irresponsibly pretend to be a visionary if I tried to claim that I know what our core competency will be in 10 years – it depends on a lot of external and internal changes that lie ahead and the need to make a lot of bold decisions.

I am sure that – in one way or another:

  • we will be a team of people open to challenges, creating the values ​​and technologies needed by the world and building a work environment based on values, ethics and work comfort.

  • our mission will be still up-to-date: we will build lasting values ​​for our clients, shareholders and employees through the creative use of digital technologies to solve the problems of modern society and business.

What can we wish to the entire Solwit team on its 10th birthday?

Currently, the health of us all is the most important thing – so wishing you lots of health.

And in terms of business:

  • as many employees, customers and shareholders as possible, who find significant value for themselves in Solwit’s operation,
  • making the best use of the experience built for over 10 years, on many of our successes and several failures,

  • continuous growth of our potential based on the competences of several hundred employees,

  • taking advantage of the enormous opportunity for growth resulting from the satisfaction with our services and the increasing needs of our clients,

  • awareness of challenges – opportunities and risks – on the global market,

  • motivation and determination in seeking synergy in cooperation and consolidation on the IT market.

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