Marek wanted to be a diplomat, but that didn’t work out, and later, he didn’t want to do it anymore. What happened? Let's start from the beginning. Marek was born in Argentina, and then as a child, he lived in Mexico - twice. - My parents traveled around the world, because Dad was sent to institutions around Latin America by the Foreign Trade Office, so I too was thrown into different parts of the world – says Marek.
- This curiosity about the world is still in me because of these experiences. But throughout all this travel, I changed schools eight times, so I constantly had to adapt to new environments, in a big way. I was the life of every party until my second trip to Mexico. A lot changed then, because I had to grow up quickly – he reminisces.
After passing his final exams in Mexico, it came time to make a decision: stay with his parents for some time and start college on the other side of the globe or return by himself to Poland, to live with his older brother, and he decided to go back.
He already knew then that diplomacy wasn't for him. – In Latin America, I saw what work in diplomacy was like first-hand, how the so-called broom works, how political changes result in the removal of excellent professionals, who are often replaced by very incompetent people only because they were in the “inner circle”. That’s when I lost interest – Marek admits.
The Foreign Affairs Ministry was too late to get Marek
But despite this, he was always consistent. - From the beginning, I knew what high school I wanted to go to after I finished elementary school and that I wanted to study foreign trade afterward. And so it was, everything according to plan – says Marek. When he graduated from the Warsaw School of Economics, he got a job offer from the Foreign Affairs Ministry. That’s how it was supposed to be. The problem was that he had already begun waiting, without waiting for a government post. - When I got this offer at the Foreign Affairs Ministry, it turned out that I was already making 2.5 times as much as they were offering at the Ministry. And so my career in diplomacy ended – the Inquise CEO reminisces.
What was this first job of his, which the Ministry of Foreign Affairs lost out to? – I was actually supposed to end up somewhere else. There was a job offer that was perfect for me: foreign trade specialist at a Swedish company. It seemed that everything was going to turn out perfectly, we had pretty much hammered out all the details, when suddenly a friend from college says to me: “Listen, there’s something I need to talk to you about. They’re opening a leasing company at the company where I work. Your future boss speaks Spanish fluently, maybe you could come work with us?” So iwent. And so I ended up in the finance industry, where I’ve been for almost all of my professional life – Marek recollects.
Since he was working, he studied extramurally. Just like Tom Kuzak. It’s a good thing too, because they met thanks to this.
- We had a fantastic group, which also included MichałNiedźwiadek-Sanecki, who is also a part of INFORMATION DESIRED today, and for all these years, our careers have intertwined. During their studies, the boys went on to specialize in marketing and management and I chose international economic relations, but we remained close-knit. I even helped Tom to start the first company that was to introduce discount coupons into Poland, but since our investor backed out at the last minute, I went back to finance. But for the entire time, for all these years, I was always close to Tom’s businesses, supporting him mentally, sometimes financially – says Marek Kucharski
Bigger money? “That was never a reason for changing jobs”
The finance industry had a very different dimensions in Marek's career. - I was never a salesman, and I ended up in sales. I wanted to be a financier. But as a result, I hear I was the best financier in a sales department or the best salesman in a finance department – Marek jokes. And he adds: - Somebody once said something like that about me, but that’s not true. There is always definitely someone better out there.
- I always had the good luck to have bosses who saw my potential, took me under their wing, and who trusted me a lot at the same time. I never planned to work in sales, but I began to manage sales, with entire divisions and 50 employees working under me. It is thanks to my fantastic bosses that I learned how to do this – he adds.
Every next job that he started carried some broader perspective with it. - I was never in the situation that I changed jobs just to earn more. It was always about entering into a new area. At Siemens Finance, I was department manager, at Pekao Leasing I was sales director, and at Volkswagen Bank I built the entire department and was entirely responsible for it, its budget, etc. – Marek says.
- At Citi Handlowy, they asked me what I wanted to do in five years. I said then that I would like to become the CEO of medium-sized leasing company. And that’s exactly what happened in 2009 at DnB Nord Group. But then the crisis happened, and there were a lot of changes. The financing for the project at the leasing company was taken away, because that money needed to be moved to mortgage loans. I said: “thanks, but that wasn’t the deal”. Everything happened amicably, but I understood that there was nothing for me in finance because of the crisis. That was when I moved to the manufacturing industry for a bit, to the MPack company, which made packagings for the cosmetics industry. It was a very good experience – the upredictability of production, failures, many new experiences, in addition to the fact that it was a family-owned company – the Inquise CEO reminisces.
The crisis calmed down and the factoring sector appeared. - I can use everything I learned at the previous companies in Inquise. I don’t regret any stop on my career path – says Marek Kucharski.
- When I parted ways with my last employer – Mogo – Tom Kuzak popped up and said: “it’s now or never”. And now I’m here. Together with Tom on one ship. Outside of finance. Building something completely new – he emphasizes.
A new chapter, what is the CEO doing now?
What is Marek Kucharski’s role at Inquise? Sometimes, it’s about making sure that the founder – Tom Kuzak – always has a charged power bank, the right power adapters in his suitcase when he’s on a business trip to the USA. Sometimes it's being his pangs of conscience, for example when it comes it punctuality.
And besides that? – The team thinks that I am one of the few people, perhaps the only person, who has any influence whatsoever on Tom. He has a very strong personality. He managed his businesses until now single-handedly, and he always had the deciding vote. Now that’s changing for the first time. I have great respect for his knowledge and experience, and he respects mine, but above all, he trusts me. We are a perfect duo, in which I am the organized one, responsible for discipline, finance, cash flows, payments, and even the calendar of company events and growth, while Tom is responsible for strategy, for setting the course, thinking up new ideas and developing the network of partners and editors who are the foundation of our business. But our division of labor is very fluid – says Marek.
And what is the CEO’s role in his private life? – I have three women at home, so I am in the minority, so they wrap me around their fingers – he admits with no regret. - I’m supposed to be the head of the family, but I know perfectly well that just isn’t true. Both my wife and my daughters are well able to make me think I have made a decision independently, while I’m just doing exactly what they had in mind – he adds. But only these three women in the world are capable of doing this.