Lahore School of Economics

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Organizational Behavio

Mr Marek Minkiewicz, Managing Director at METRO Cash& Carry Pakistan delivered two online sessions to the Lahore School of Economics’ MBA  cohort graduating in 2020.

Marek, given the interest of the MBA candidates in management under the present epidemic conditions, spent some time in explaining how Metro set up and managed a crisis team to meet with the challenges of the new situation, how the team practiced flexible and on-line work and the issues associated with it before it actually implemented it and now it learnt from its other offices in countries which had been experiencing the epidemic earlier than we did in our country. Big organizations had some standard procedures set down in booklets. The crisis team included representatives from Finance, Commercial, HR etc.

The immediate effects of the epidemic included some panic buying but things settled down quickly. There is a rise in sales probably because now consumers are eating thrice at home and also because their children are at home. One visible outcome in terms of business was the 300% increase in online sales. It seems that the demand is much more than even this substantial increase, Marek noted. What would happen in the future was more uncertain as consumers might, or might not, change consumer behavior such as choosing not to go to crowded places such as crowded stores or restaurants.

Talking about his personal learning from his own career, Marek advised business students to try and find an area of business which interested them. It did not have to be done in their very first job. Secondly, they needed to manage their expectations as it was not possible that they were promoted to top positions very early in their careers. The first five years were meant to develop expertise in some area of business. His first job included rotating in various positions and he worked at the cashier’s desk, worrying about making mistakes. But later in life that experience helped him tremendously as he understood the various minute aspects of his business.

Talking about supplier management and especially about negotiations with them, Marek noted that firstly, most of us were not natural or born negotiators but we could always learn the art and practice of negotiations. Secondly, one had to take a long-term view with suppliers: One could squeeze them hard in the first year but if treated unfairly the suppliers were likely to come back in a more aggressive frame of mind the second year and win back advantage. There should be a win-win: both supplier and Metro need to gain out of the contract.

Advising MBA candidate on interview management, Marek said it was important to maintain “authenticity”. Now this was easier said than done. But the candidates need to remember that sharp interviewers could see through their stories. Related to this, companies were putting more emphasis on assessment centres where applicants soon “forgot” their prepared selves and acted more naturally after a certain time.

Marek also spoke about feedback in organizations. He said that he liked to give feedback not on the spot but later, one-to-one in his office so that the other person was not faced with embarrassment and also could learn. Regarding customer feedback there was an elaborate system for collecting it based on the Net Promoter Score ranging from 1 to 10. If it was less than 6 then the customer was contacted and the outcome was communicated. Store managers were contacted and Solved or Not Solved data was maintained.

Marek also discussed his own decision-making style. He said he discussed all major issues with his top team. Discussion-led agreement was preferable to voting: sometimes it happened that six out of seven, including himself would favor option A while one person would be favoring option B but after discussion all went along with that one person.

He responded to a question on Job Hopping by noting it was a complex issue. If a person applied for a job and his CV showed that he had changed jobs more than three times in 15 years at least Marek would ask him the reason for these changes, worried that he might leave this company as well. However, if the applicant had worked for 15 years straight at only one company he would also ask the reason for this as well.

The entire MBA cohort applauded and thanked Marek’s candid views and thoughtful analyses and appreciated his advice to them on career management. Marek is a regular visitor to the MBA program and is a very welcome and honored guest.

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posted by S A J Shirazi @ 4/23/2020 05:48:00 PM,

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