Spirit of Optimism in the Middle of Europe
A trip into the heart of Budapest is mandatory: Dr. Zsolt Ligethy, WACKER’s managing director for Central Europe, always takes visitors from Germany to the famous Heroes’ Square. And is pleased to see the surprise on colleagues’ faces when they discover the plaque at the Millennium Monument – a thank you to the sponsor who donated the silicone building protection: WACKER.
Based in the Danube metropolis of Budapest, Dr. Zsolt Ligethy’s (4th from right) team provides services across the Central European region.
WACKER has devoted considerable effort to expanding its presence in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain. Today there is a network of sales offices extending from Poland to Bulgaria to Albania. This sales region also includes Greece, Malta and Cyprus. Ligethy’s Central European team totals 72 colleagues. They are almost always natives of the country where they work, because WACKER attaches great importance to customers being able to converse in their native language. “No other company operates in this fashion, so this is a real competitive advantage,” says Ligethy. And how do the staff of this multicultural unit communicate with each other? In English or German, and sometimes even without words. At a team evening in Budapest a year ago, sales managers, account managers and site managers divided randomly into groups were set the task of cooking together. “That fostered communication better than any meeting,” added Ligethy.
In fact, gastronomy is an excellent means of illustrating regional differences. WACKER SILICONES manager in Warsaw, Zdenek Pololanik, who was previously responsible for Greece, recalls an evening meal with a customer in an Athens tavern which began at 10:30 p.m. “As midnight approached, he took his leave, remarking that he had to go on to another business dinner.”
Team meetings and team building play a crucial role in the multicultural Budapest Team.
The diversity of dining etiquette is mirrored in the diversity of demands on the business. In countries like the Czech Republic, Poland, Hungary and Slovakia, the markets are increasingly operating at Western Europe levels. A decisive factor has been their accession to the European Union: standards have been unified and companies have become more transparent. Market structures have changed, too – instead of many small and medium enterprises, WACKER’s customers there include more big players these days.
In countries such as Albania or Kosovo, the local Sales staff have their work cut out for them to establish WACKER as a quality brand. In addition, WACKER promotes the appreciation of high-quality raw materials through seminars and symposia. Pololanik refers to the work as a “mission.” But it could pay off, and pioneer rewards beckon. Who knows – maybe WACKER plaques will soon be gracing monuments in Tirana, Bucharest or Pristina?