We open the window to the world even wider. “Olivia’s interview” with Bogdan Ołdakowski
The Pomeranian Regional Chamber of Commerce has its seat in the Olivia CONNECT area of the Olivia Business Centre and has been supporting domestic firms in their operations, development and execution of international projects for years. The Olivia Business Centre is, again, a patron of the event the Transport Week conference whose eighth edition focused on projects involving development of the port infrastructure in Europe and opportunities offered by the New Silk Route. As a part of the conference we talk to Bogdan Ołdakowski, a member of the Management Board of RIGP and President of Actia Forum sp. z o.o., the organizer of the Transport Week. Some of the keynote topics of the “Olivia’s interview” include the foreign expansion of Pomeranian firms, a vision of development of Pomerania and the role of the developing TSL industry in that process (transport, shipping, logistics).
CHALLENGES FOR FIRMS IN POMERANIA
Monika Bogdanowicz (Communication Expert, Olivia Business Centre): Do Pomeranian entrepreneurs have any reason to be satisfied? What is the main challenge for firms in 2018 according to the Pomeranian Regional Chamber of Commerce?
Bogdan Ołdakowski, President of the Management Board of Actia Forum Sp. z o.o., organizer of the Transport Week conference, a member of the Management Board of the Pomeranian Regional Chamber of Commerce (RIGP).: Yes. Last year was good for the economy in Poland. Positive effects of the fast economic growth can also be observed in Pomerania; corporate revenues are on the increase and the exports are growing as well, even though the growth rate is not as fast as in previous years. There is no doubt that finding workers is a challenge this year. Problems on the labour market can be seen almost everywhere. Obviously, this fact, apart from labour shortages, translates into an increased value of salaries, which increases costs of business operations.
INTERNATIONAL EXPANSION OF POMERANIAN FIRMS
M.B.: What is your general opinion about the potential of Pomeranian firms and their preparation for international expansion? How is the TSL industry coping in this race?
B.O. The region of Pomerania is very open to the cooperation with international markets. This is the effect of many factors such as the characteristic coastal location of the region that has always encouraged people to travel, to search for markets overseas. I have a high opinion about the preparation of Pomeranian firms for presence on international markets. One can obviously always notice some problems, e.g. the collapse of the offshore market (extraction of oil and natural gas from the sea worldwide) that many firms took advantage of. The international TSL industry is also in good condition. This industry, by its very nature, operates on international markets but Pomerania is the core activity of many firms representing that industry because market is growing very rapidly here.
M.B.: How is the Pomeranian Regional Chamber of Commerce really helping their members to develop and promote themselves abroad? What benefits do RIGP members get and why is it worthwhile to be an active participant in meetings and training courses organized, among other things, in conference areas of Olivia?
B.O. Many firms belong to the RIGP and it is mainly thanks to their services that other entrepreneurs have an opportunity to take advantage of professional help. RIGP also implements projects to help firms on international markets, for example the project titled the Pomeranian Export Broker where it is one of the partners. From the perspective of a firm interested in a specific market, it is just worthwhile to come to seminars or training courses to learn about the details of business operations, e.g. in Norway or Iran. We offer professional consulting to those who want more help. The Pomeranian Export Broker project can also co-finance costs of travel to fairs, conferences, etc. Let us not forget that the Chamber can suggest specific aid in the funding of business operations. I invite everyone to become a part of the Chamber.
THE ROLE OF GRAŃSK IN THE INDUSTRY
M.B.: Let’s talk about the Transport Week conference prepared by Actia Forum for the 8th time, which is one of the most popular events devoted to the TSL industry. What is the role of Gdańsk and the entire Pomerania on the international market today? What I have in mind is the cooperation of our enterprises with firms from the Baltic area, Europe and the world?
B.O. The role of Gdańsk and Gdynia increased significantly in the last few years, mainly thanks to the development of ports in Gdańsk and Gdynia. Poland’s accession to the EU, i.e. the year 2004 was the cut-off date. Rapidly growing reloading operations in ports reflected the rapid economic development or the country and its trade. Additionally, there were large investments in the transport infrastructure, also thanks to EU funds, which strengthened the position of ports even further. The transport industry which, to put it simply, deals with the trade and cargo service is also growing along with the increase in the quantity of cargos. It is an industry that generates a lot of jobs, mainly related to ports. The role of Pomerania in the Baltic region is the role of the leader and, from the European perspective, ports in Gdańsk and Gdynia are one of the most rapidly growing medium-sized port centres in Europe.
M.B.: What if we wanted to describe daringly a vision of Pomerania in 2030 from the perspective of logistics and the transport industry? What shall we have then what we do not have now and what still requires a lot of effort and energy today?
B.O. If I were to try and describe a vision of Pomerania 2030 I would say that the scale of the port business and the TSL industry would be much greater. Larger shops will arrive here, ports will have a larger and more modern infrastructure. The road and railway infrastructure is one of the key issues to be settled, both as regard the access to ports and further, i.e. as support centres. Therefore, if we talk about effort it shall be directed both towards the development of ports and the development of the land infrastructure. And development is not only expansion but also the intelligent management of such expansion and traffic.
NEW SILK ROUTE
M.B.: A discussion about the development of the New Silk Route will be one of the conference topics. What do you think about the chance for further development of the Baltic and European logistic sector?
B.O. This topic is discussed at many meetings and conferences. The policy of the government of China related to the New Silk Route mainly consists of the strengthening of China’s presence as regards investments worldwide, including Europe. Chinese investments are also made in ports, e.g. in Greece and Portugal. One has to remember that the transport route between Europe and Asia, especially China offers the largest scale of trade in Europe. Therefore, we can say that Chinese investments in European ports are a natural direction to attain the goals of the Silk Route. However, the scale of investments is still minor in Europe. Time will show whether the Chinese capital will be invested in ports to a greater degree.
INNOVATIONS IN BUSINESS
M.B.: You have been observing the development of the TSL industry for many years; do you believe that there is space for the creation of demand for innovations, new types of services and development of forms such as start-ups there?
B.O. Of course there is. The port sector or, more generally, the TSL is a fast growing industry and, at the same time, considered rather conservative. The simultaneous development of the industry and its technological advancement creates opportunities for the realization of many innovative projects or start-ups. In general, we have been observing the process of digitalization of that industry for a few years that, as a consequence, is supposed to help improve the effectiveness of logistic solutions for the transport of goods.
TRANSPORT WEEK GALA IN OLIVIA
M.B.: You have also planned a special meeting for all guests as a part of the agenda of the 3-day event at the Transport Week 2018 which was held in a unique place: Olivia Sky Club from where one can see the panorama of the entire Gdańsk Bay. It is from there that one can also see sea transport routes. Please tell us, what the guests experienced during that special evening?
B.O. In particular, guests had an opportunity to have a good time in the Olivia Business Centre with a view of the Bay. Such meetings offer an opportunity for non-formal conversations, initiation of business contacts. In general, guests who visit Gdańsk or Gdynia once in a few years are surprised with the development rate and with places such as Olivia. On behalf of the organisers of the Transport Week, I want to thank you for hosting us that evening. It is worth mentioning that the Baltic Transport Journal handed out awards to firms for special achievements in the transport industry in the Baltic area at the meeting. Winners included firms from Pomerania: DCT Gdańsk and the Management of the Gdańsk Seaport.
POMERANIA – WINDOW TO THE WORLD
M.B: When I listened to you talking about your experience presenting the development of Pomeranian firms and their connections to the world, I observed the intense growth of transport-related industries focused on Gdańsk – we can safely say that our window to the world is open increasingly wider!
B.O. Oh yes! Windows of Pomerania and Gdańsk have always been and still are wide open to the world.
Bogdan Ołdakowski, President of the Management Board and founder of Actia Forum Sp. z o.o. He has been performing the function of the Secretary of the General Organisation of Baltic Ports since 2006. He is also the President of the Management Board of the Baltic Press Sp. z o.o. publishing house and the Motus Foundation. In 1996-2003, connected to the Management Board of the Morski Port Gdańsk S.A. occupying various positions. In the same period, he participated in the work of the Baltic Ports Organisation, European Sea Port Organisation and other international organisations. Worked as an advisor at the Port Lotniczy Gdańsk im. Lecha Wałęsy Sp. z o. o. in 2000-2003. In 1994-1998, a team member in GEOMOR with which it finished his cooperation on the position of a Management Board Member and the Managing Director. He participates in the work of industry and economic organisations, is a member of groups of experts and advisory groups, among other things, a Management Board member at the Pomeranian Regional Chamber of Commerce, a member of the European Sustainable Shipping Forum and the European Ports Forum, consulting groups at the European Commission. A participant in many consulting projects related to sea sectors, ports, infrastructure, transport, energy and environmental protection. An organizer, lecturer and speaker at conferences and international forums. Graduated from the Faculty of Biology, Geography and Coastal Science at the Gdańsk University. A scholar of the Tempus Program during the studies. A scholar of the Government of the Kingdom of Denmark after graduation. He graduated from the Law and Management Postgraduate Studies at the Management and Economics Department of the Gdańsk University of Technology and a managerial course: Port Management and Organization organized by the Ports of Stockholm. He also completed the Baltic Leadership Programme organized by the Swedish Institute. He practices sports: tennis, football, skiing. He is interested in jazz, literature and contemporary painting.
About Olivia CONNECT. The CONNECT Project was established to stimulate and facilitate the cooperation between all residents of the Olivia Business Centre. Its priority is to create the environment promoting business development and to initiate projects whose joint realization helps expand the region of Pomerania. Numerous non-governmental organisations have their offices in Olivia CONNECT, e.g. associations, foundations and business support organisations. Residents of Olivia CONNECT include: the infoShare Foundation, Marek Kamiński Foundation, Marek Kamiński Institute and the Inspirujące Przykłady Foundation as well as the Regional Chamber of Commerce of Pomerania, Pomeranian Union of Entrepreneurs Lewiatan, GUP Job Office, ICT Interizon Cluster and the BPO Education Centre – Sopot High School.