“Passing the buck – a modern day plague” – Sergey Bondarenko, Head of Skywell Software LLC regarding good employees and great books which lead to new and innovative thinking
CEO of Skywell Software LLC, Sergey Bondarenko shares his best advice and discusses the latest books that made an impression on him as part of a special project by Novoe Vremya Business.
1. What three tips would you give yourself 10 years ago?
- Do not study just English but also keep refining my negotiations skills, and carefully examine the major cultural peculiarities and international mentality differences all over the world. For younger specialists, it’s even more important to make the most out of each opportunity available, for example, taking part in several international educational programs.
- Never hesitate to become acquainted with the top 5 ultimate influencers or thought leaders within the industry you’re interested or involved professionally. Remember that story about how Steve Jobs met William Hewlett, the head of Hewlett-Packard, with a single phone call?
- Obtain an international education. The world has changed dramatically — education opportunities are now accessible for all, and you don’t have to be super rich to study abroad.
2.Who’s your model example of a top successful businessman and what qualities do you find most exemplary?
If I mention, say, Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, such case is going to be absolutely trivial, isn’t it? Even though Musk himself is a great example of possessing strong personality, and nerves of steel as well. He is not afraid to handle huge investment and bear responsibility for extensive long-term financial assets. Although Musk is a risk taker, he simply keeps delivering incredible things into life. And most of his formerly science fiction-like projects have already become real for now.
Regarding the most valuable business insight, let’s turn back to Joseph Kallman, ex-CEO at Philip Morris. Driven by his mighty efforts, the company has successfully grown into one of the largest US corporations. Here is the core advice from Callman: “Let your best people work in the areas which present the greatest opportunities, not challenges.”
When Callman came to Philip Morris in the early 1960’s, the company worked exclusively on the US domestic market, with the net share of international sales amounting just to 1%. But Kallman managed to identify an enormous global commercial opportunity, so he appointed one of his best people, George Weisman, to lead in this direction. And I think that turned out pretty well. As George Weisman saw his initial department successfully evolving into the leading division, which performed the most rapid scaling within the whole company. And his product line is known as among world’s all time best-sellers. Twenty years have now passed, Forbes noted that: “Callman’s decision to appoint Weisman was brilliant.”
In terms of Ukraine-based business thought leaders, I believe Eugene Chernyak (the owner and co-founder of Global Spirits, alcoholic beverage brand known locally as TM Khortitsa — Editor’s note). This entrepreneur certainly deserves to be mentioned here. At the same time, however, there are a lot of other ambitious Ukrainians who built a successful international business as well.
3. What does it take for an employee to validate their hiring in your eyes after one year on the job?
I ask myself two things when pressed to evaluate the overall qualification performance of every single team member at Skywell Software LLC:
- If the employee tells me: “I quit,” would I have a feeling of relief or, probably, keen desire to hold on to him/her at all cost? That depends.
- Imagine you’re going to hire a new staff member already knowing the ultimate outcome to be delivered in the future. Would I still want to have such a specialist hired once again anyway or, perhaps, I’d better forget about that?
In terms of core personal qualities, there are two things I find most valuable. First of all, everything depends on the employee’s ability to take responsibility for their actions, which is most relevant, since passing the buck is a modern day plague. Second of all, a result oriented and driven approach.
4. Can you outline some books or movies that have recently impressed you most? And tell us please exactly what features or characters actually determined your choice?
Currently, I’m reading about corporate innovation and startup development. Among the others, “The Four Steps to the Epiphany” by Steve Blank, which could be considered as a “Bible” for a startup. Thrilling yet clear and concise, its narration provides easily understandable step-by-step instructions to start scaling the business from A to Z. Possessing big-time experience as a successful entrepreneur, the author now teaches at Stanford and Columbia University and he’s also known by some students as “The Godfather of Silicon Valley “. So, I believe that for every active entrepreneur in the initial stages of a startup launch — delving into this book, accompanied with supportive blog pages by Steve Blank is an absolute must.
“The Law of Successful Innovation: How to Convince the Client to HIRE Your Product” is going to be the second book I’d like to recommend as among my favorite sources of insight. Featuring a cool practical approach to innovation, the author clearly demonstrates exactly what actions are to be taken for turning most of the innovation into guaranteed success. And no need to stress the top relevance of this topic — based on the recent McKinsey’s survey, 84% of executives worldwide acknowledge the preeminent importance of innovation. However, over 90% of senior executives or stakeholders are estimated to be completely dissatisfied with the actual outcomes delivered with innovation in the end. Unfortunately, the only key obstacle is the lack of close communication and mutual customer interaction. What I mean here is that just collecting extensive data related to the project will never bring you desired progress. By illustrating the process with real-life case studies, the author emphasizes the strongest priority of emphatic cooperation, providing readers with the extensive knowledge needed to master all of the ins-and-outs of customer decision-making.
Regarding recent motion pictures, I can’t think of anything really meaningful or at least catchy.
5. How can we properly keep the work-life balance, so that we maintain efficiency without overdriving?
It is important to have every working day planned proactively. Active sports and meditation have proven to be my best fitting options. Possessing a well-established positive thinking, accompanied by reasonably optimistic sentiments — is arguably the best recipe for balanced efficiency and ongoing inspiration.
6. What’s the best source of inspiration?
Meaningful communication with the right people should always come first. A lot has been written about the importance of communicating with people who have achieved a lot more than you have, so let’s not delve into details. Second of all,
ongoing learning and self-study fuel my positive motivation with thematic lectures, industry seminars, different educational programs, global trainings, etc. Just the two things I mentioned — communication and self-learning — prevent me from stopping my development, even for a single second.