In our next interview that celebrates Granton’s 10th birthday our COO Tomas Skacel will tell us about his beginnings. So, keep on reading!
How long have you been in Granton for?
I’ve been here more or less since the beginning of Granton. Granton was founded in January 2012 and I officially started if I remember correctly in June 2012.
You say “officially”, does it mean you were somehow connected with Granton prior to it?
I can’t say I was utterly connected but the discussions about me being part of it were happening already few months prior. I was employed, I had to give notice so even to make such a decision took several months.
You mentioned the discussions, does it mean, that Honza actually approached you?
Honza did approach me, because we knew each other from previous project we shared. He had a positive experience with me and openly told me I am the type of person he would like to work with and who fits the concept of the company he is starting.
At that time, you’d already have certain stability in your life, what made you to leave and follow “the madman” into the start up?
Well, I hope it’s time-barred, since it’s been 10 years (laugh) and the previous employer won’t be upset either. The situation was such a paradox. Just prior to dealing with Honza, I was offered a promotion from analyst to consultant which was bringing a significant pay rise as well. Despite all that, Honza’s offer was even better, it was promising interesting job description, independence and more responsibilities and I was looking for a challenge at that time. I didn’t have children nor other commitments and after talking to my wife we agreed that it was worth the risk and if not then when?
How did the transition go?
It was all clearly communicated and (Honza – edit.note) guaranteed, that I would get my pay regardless the circumstances or possible invoice issues or anything else. Those problems were therefore always filtered away from me, although I would admit that Honza was very open with me and we supported each other through the tough beginnings.
Not long ago we were looking at the company’s key milestones and specifically your first integration into a project was quite interesting. Would you like to tell us something more about it?
It was very unique and actually quite pleasant situation looking at it that Honza wanted me in his company and at the same time previous work colleague and a manager asked for me for his T-Mobile project. It really was pleasant situation, I was wanted by two people that knew me and were interested in me because of my capabilities and experience, that really was a balm for my soul. The most interesting part was though where the meeting was held. Close to the T-Mobile building there is a KFC joint where we were sitting in the second floor and working out the first business for Granton.
How did you end up in KFC?
It was actually the manager’s idea who wanted me and was trying to find somewhere close with a carpark so we could quickly get together and come to an arrangement.
During your time at Granton, where you started as a consultant, you have built up your position quite nicely all the way up to the company’s COO. What has the transformation been like from Honza’s acquaintance to friend to the position of being responsible for Honza’s “baby” aka the company?
I’d like to openly say that it was a lot about building mutual trust. Of course, there’s always been elementary trust from day one, otherwise neither I nor Honza would want to work together. Honza took it to the next level when he’s been openly discussing the company’s situation, got me involved with the clients etc. At the same time, he was listening to what I had to say, was inspired by my opinions and that really mattered to me…After roughly a year, year and half we started to draw up my carrier journey in this direction. There were a lot of milestones that put us through tests, eg. trip to America (you’ll read about it in the next article, editorial note). Gradually I became client manager for T-Mobile and at the end we were standing on the terrace putting the vision of the company together….And specifically the company’s vision based on the people and the personal touch is what keeps me in Granton until these days.
What are currently your responsibilities at Granton?
With Honza now, we tend to simplify it, my responsibilities are like his, in other words making strategic decisions about the future of the company, its customers growth, investments, assuring satisfaction and development of our consultants. Beside that I still keep working on our clients where I utilize my expertise and work on the bigger deals in order not to lose the touch with the latest developments and new trends in our industry etc…. Sooner or later, I will be taking on the full- time responsibility for the strategic management of Granton.
In those ten years you’ve been here, what do you regard as yours and the company’s biggest success?
I see my own success in the year 2016 when we managed to bring a wave of people in one hit that now form the top management and core of Granton. That was the moment when the company started to steer in the direction myself and Honza had in mind.
The company’s success is very subjective, but from my point of view it was when we had really lot of people involved with the key strategic project for T-Mobile and that raised the company’s visibility in the market. And I can proudly say that Granton people played significant role in successfully completing that project.
Is there anything in the history of Granton that could be classed as failure?
Well for sure. I adhere to the philosophy that if you haven’t failed at least once you have no chance to succeed. As a failure I see for example an unsuccessful expansion to America. That however really made us think about the company’s vision and it taught us a lot.
You are quite synchronized with Honza now, you even use your made up term "plural managers“. Does that cause some disagreements? And how do you solve it?
Luckily our management team consist of myself, Honza and Vita, so there can never really be complete stalemate. There are three of us to make decisions so there is always a majority vote. Another advantage is that our personalities complement one another.
What is your personality there?
The feedback I’m getting is that I’m the mediator who abrades edges and tries to find the solution. In return I can be led by others when there is a need to make bit more daring decisions.
I have the last question for you. What do you wish for Granton to achieve for the next ten years?
Paradoxically I wish for Granton to be self-sufficient without us in ten years. Because any company shouldn’t stand on concrete people, but rather on its values, philosophy and the vision that it’s lived through all the people working there. And I wish for Granton to be such a company.