Judging by the page of Irina Miroshnik on Facebook you can say only one thing – the person is familiar with social networks. But the abundance of good photos, trending posts, and quotes from bestsellers is not just personal blog content. This is a self-defense weapon.
Irina is confident that the transparency of business and the openness of its leader in the context of the next wave of the corporate raid and permanent bureaucratic disorder helps business Ukraine not only to survive but also to develop.
Irina, you are quite a public person. Judging by your profiles in social networks, you are paying special attention to this. It is believed that publicity helps to survive in business. Can you confirm this by your own experience?
I had to become a public person. My husband, Alexander Galkin (Alexander Galkin, husband of Irina Miroshnik, previously headed the Kyiv plant Ukrplastic, died tragically in 2013. – Ed.), was very well known in professional community. Today I have to be public. I had no choice.
Here is an example of how this works. During the recent Eurovision Song Contest in Kyiv, which was held close to our company location, we received a telegram from Kyivenergo about disconnecting the power supply for 10 days in connection with ensuring the security of the competition. As soon as I found out about this, I immediately wrote on Facebook – guys, what are you doing there? We have contracts, supplies, production, and people. To stop power supply for 10 days for the sake of a contest? That was sufficient. I had a call from the Cabinet of Ministers in half an hour. First, they confirmed that this order was illegal. Secondly, they said that the organizers of Eurovision had a specially designed emergency cable for power supply, and the initiative on the ground is for “safe play”. As a result, we did not stop our production for a minute and did not foil our plan. This is a small result of the publicity.
We did not stop our production for a minute and did not foil our plan. This is a small result of the publicity
This works. After all, you can easily destroy any – even the best – company, if nobody knows the company. A company should be known; but publicity should be correct, socially responsible. Then you can count on your friends, on journalists, and on the government.
Yes, this is an indicative case.
But this works only if the company is truly transparent and open. If there is at least a little taint or something is wrong with the company, there will be no such effect.
Do you remember the recent story with Irina Varagash (the head of the Econia company, which had two raider attacks were committed. – Ed.)? Many people then participated in its defense, but it all started with a message on Facebook. As I understand it, the Ministry of Justice began to deal with this situation, seeing in social networks information about the raider seizure. And this is because the company of Irina Varagash is public and transparent.
You can easily destroy any – even the best – company if nobody knows about it
Alexander Sokolovsky from “Textile Kontakt” and “Nova Poshta” had similar situations. As soon as they had problems, the society immediately responded.
Yes, that is right. However, if you do not have an impeccable reputation, of course, nobody will go to protect you.
How did your company survive the last crisis? How did your daily routine change, how did you get out of the situation? Many of your colleagues lost assets and customers in the uncontrolled regions. Did you have such a loss?
We had no clients in Crimea. But in Lugansk and Donetsk, of course, we had. Huge manufacturers as «Conti» and «AVK» had lost production, and we had lost orders for packaging. However, on the one hand, we lost orders, and on the other, our competitors who worked there disappeared from the market. The situation was aggravated by the war – the purchasing power of the population and general business activity in the country fell. That was at that time.
If you do not have an impeccable reputation, of course, nobody will go to protect you
I know that because of the war actions in the East, many foreign companies refuse to work with their Ukrainian partners further. Did you have such cases, and how did you solve them?
Yes, we had long and difficult negotiations. We explained why they should not be afraid to cooperate with us. When it all started, for six months we flew all over Europe and explained to suppliers and customers that, in general, Ukraine is a huge country, and the conflict is far from Kyiv and in a small part of the territory. All foreigners, unfortunately, were then sure that the shooting was right in the downtown of Kyiv, in Khreshchatyk. It took a long time to explain the real situation. This is, first.
Second. When the war began, all insurance was canceled. Euler Hermes and COFACE mainly insured our partners. As soon as the war began, on the second day, all the deferments of payments were canceled. It was terrible.
There were those who had a sympathetic understanding and took risks. We are very grateful to all. We have been cooperating with our main suppliers for twenty years and continue to work.
As soon as the war began, on the second day, all the deferments of payments were canceled
Companies that could not work due to risk insurance had to go, explain and negotiate. Imagine — you know that you have a 70-day delay and a credit limit of 3 million euros. You are working taking into consideration these conditions. And at some point, everything is reset, and you cannot even place an order. This is a real force majeure.
How much do you delegate with these events? What are the dimensions of trust — up to 50% or all 99%?
I have a dream. I have traveled all over the world, but have not been to Singapore, Australia, Central Africa, South America or Antarctica. I want to be able to go there too. Now I cannot even go there on a business trip because I am too busy. I want to be able to plan my schedule without the most rigid link to business meetings and business needs. I want to be able to turn off the phone at least on weekends. I want to control my business by a summary with five figures sent to me to a gym. That is the way I want it to be (laughs).
Do you manage to have the five numbers for control? Does the delegation reach 99%?
No, it does not. I think it is 50% now. But as the tasks multiply, there is still a lot to do.
By the way, about the workload. Jeff Bezos, in his last big interview, described his daily work as making two or three correct decisions. Do you also make two or three decisions a day? Or twenty-thirty?
Firstly, two or three correct decisions a day is too much. If we are talking about the CEO level, there should be even fewer issues, because you do not deal with strategic issues every day. That is, two or three decisions are my level. But this is wrong, in fact, it is too many. For a CEO, this is the right number of decisions. For an owner it is not.
I have traveled all over the world, but have not been to Singapore, Australia, Central Africa, South America or Antarctica. I want to be able to go there too
Can a top manager replace the owner at some stage? Will the replacement be equivalent?
There are various theories. But in principle, it is impossible to leave the business, especially in Ukraine. This is on the one hand. On the other hand, a hired competent employee with competent task setting will still be better. The top can always tell an employee, “Listen, I have tasks that the owner have set for me, and we have to fulfill them.” And no one will say anything to him. But as the owner, I am often approached by people who tell me what a difficult life they have. At least they try to tell. I do not react to this, but anyway, attempts to manipulate take place. So the owner cannot leave the business completely.
What does mission and values in business mean to you? Are these notions applicable in the real economy?
With us, these are reflected in the general rules of working with partners. All these things are written in contracts with counterparties. When we talk about mission and values, we must understand that we mean openness and honesty. We only have contracts through transparent tenders, and the salary is official. And even when our contractors attract someone to work, they must be confident in the right values of the person.
The owner, in principle, cannot leave the business, in particular in Ukraine
What does inspire you not to fall out of rhythm, to remain human in general?
First, I like what I do. My answer to your “not falling out of rhythm” is as follows. My work is not a hard forced labor for me. I come to the place I like. I like new challenges. I like what we are doing, and therefore I regard even crises as an opportunity to change and grow. Any crisis makes it possible to see what you are worth. You either roll downhill or grow. You never have ups without downs.
Any crisis makes it possible to see what you are worth
People, with whom I communicate, inspire me. The specifics of our business allows communicating at the highest level everywhere. The best people in the world are our level of communication. And you understand that the world is still changing for the better. Despite all the questions and problems. This is not cool. It is just such a business. It is small but very complex, high-tech and specific.
Sports and music also distract me.
What kind of sport? I know that for many managers and owners, hard sports are a necessity. Do you feel this necessity?
Tennis, skiing, shooting and hateful gym.
No, gun and machine-gun shooting. Now I cannot shoot, actually. Recently I have injured a shoulder. Too much shooting (laughs). I am taking a pause for a while.
The best people in the world are our level of communication
Why did you start shooting?
By incident. My fellows told me, “Let’s try it.” Given the fact that my mom was a biathlon champion, I guess it was passed on to me. At school, we had a shooting gallery where we all knocked ten out of ten almost every evening. We had classes in basic military training, competitions like “Eaglet” and others … 35 years passed since school years, and now I started shooting again. In general, I shoot aptly.
I like to shoot in the kill-room (virtual space for shooting. – Ed.). You can shoot, standing still (not inspiring), or you can move.
Does it help?
This is actually a kind of meditation. While shooting, you need to disconnect from the world, to get rid of everything and be “here and now.” A bullet can hit a target only if you exhale and take it along the path all the way to the Alpha point. No other way.
Tennis and skiing also have this principle. If you think about something else, standing on the skis, you are more likely to be in a very unpleasant place (in the sense — off the track). Therefore — only “here and now.” There is only you, the sky, the sun, and the slope.
A bullet can hit a target only if you exhale and take it all the way along the path
Tell us about the “owner trap”. Are you afraid to get into a situation when your actions may lead to a mistake? Do people always agree with you or not?
The people who want to avoid responsibility always agree with me. Or they send a message, “Please, confirm”. A person has come to do his job. Why is he transferring his responsibility to me? He is a specialist; he gets money for his work and for making the right decisions. Thank God, I do have people whose absence I sometimes notice. I pay attention to general indicators. There are people in the company capable to make decisions, to argue with me, to tell me, “Listen, I understood you, but I have a different vision. I think you are wrong. Let’s look at it from a different point of view.”
Why should I have people in the company who agree with me? I can easily agree with myself. And I can receive money for this. Then people will come and say, “This is the order of Miroshnik”. This is sheer manipulation.
Do you have a sufficient number of the right people to prevent you from making the wrong decision?
As soon as I do everything to the end, I will realize my dream. I will be engaged in social programs, fly and learn the language. But I haven’t done all the company requires now. We will definitely change it. We are regularly looking for people our company needs.
Do you have multitasking in your life? How do you manage it?
I have it all my life. I always had five tasks at the same time since kindergarten. There are born multitaskers who can do several tasks at the same time. Other people take tasks one by one – the first one, then the second, the third. There are different approaches. It depends on a person’s psychology.
By the way, a woman always has to think about other things besides work. This is a tradition. Work, family, children, husband. All at the same time.
A woman always has to think about other things besides work. This is a tradition. Work, family, children, husband. All at the same time.
A perfect CEO. Do you have a collective image or a specific person?
Yes, I do. For me, for example, this is Taras Lukachuk from Jacobs Douwe Egberts. This is a concrete example of a perfect CEO. His main strengths are strategic thinking, the ability to delegate authority and at the same time to control important points. In general, he is a person of the world by his competence and development. Although I think, Taras has long outgrown his position.
What books have influenced you recently? Are there such books, and what are they about?
I was greatly influenced by books on Kabbalah. At one time, the Kabbalah center in Ukraine was organized by Irena Kulchitskaya (ex-deputy mayor of Kyiv. – Ed.). I was strongly influenced by this teaching because it was not a religion, but knowledge and philosophy. By the way, in Hinduism, many basic things are almost the same as Kabbalah.
Many fashionable books on economics are interpretations of Marx’s Capital
Many fashionable books on economics are interpretations of Marx’s Capital. There are many theories. But they are just theories. They are being created and denied. Some books contain a good presentation of simple, logical and understandable things. For example, about 15 years ago the book “Blue Ocean Strategy” was published. I had read the book and realized that all the time we were following this strategy.