“The greatest obstacle I face is to convince others that it makes sense, and that it is important to get in at an early stage”

The Swedish Institute Management Programme (SIMP) is a program with the main objective to lead change for responsible leadership and sustainable business practices. The programme challenges traditional approaches of doing business and explores how business can become more people and planet focused in market driven economies

We got to meet the SIMP-alumni Katarzyna Sobótka-Demianowska and talked to her about her experience as a SIMP-participant.
Note: Since this interview Katarzyna has begun a new position as Head of Emobility at ABB.

What is your current work?
– I work as Head of Energy Innovationfor at PKN Orlen, one of the largest companies in the region. The main area of the business is production of fuel and a network of gas stations but I work with developing an infrastructure for electric vehicles. We’re building up an infrastructure of 150 fast charging stations.

How do you see yourself contributing to sustainable development?
– What I do now will help protect the environment. That is our contribution. We want to be a part of the new eco-system of innovation and environmental protection.

What would you say are the biggest challenges that you face in your context.
– We live in a time where we have short goals and with projects like electro mobility it is very hard to show the profits in short time. So the greatest obstacle I face is to convince others that it makes sense, and that it is important to get in at an early stage.

Where do you see yourself in the future – what’s your goal?
– We’re I am now I believe I am doing a good thing and I am having fun so it’s hard to tell what would be the next step. My next step should involve new skills, education and maybe a new position but I want to stay within the energy sector and work with innovation.

SIMP – how did you learn about it and what made you apply?
– I heard about it a long time ago but didn’t fulfil the requirements. Then, three years ago I was contacted by Business Sweden who encouraged me to apply.

Has SIMP helped you level up as a change maker?
– Yes, for sure! In terms of looking for a different point of view and realizing the positive impact businesses can have on sustainable development. It really broadened my horizon. If I seek approval for a project I need to be able to show profits, maybe not now but in the future. During SIMP I learned about this new way of thinking.

– It was also really inspiring to get to know the other participants that represent completely different sectors. They gave me new insights about their sectors but also new insights into what I do.

If you had to choose one thing that you liked about the programme, what would that be?
– Meeting all these people and being part of this network. And learning about Sweden. During the module in Sweden I could really talk to people about the culture about what it is like to live there.

Do you use the network still today?
– Yes, we have a group on What’s app where we send greetings and messages, and the Polish team are still in touch, so this is a really nice effect of the programme!

And the last question: what will tomorrow’s leaders do different compared to the leaders of today?
– I’ve noticed that the new generation thinks differently. I see that people are changing from money-oriented to values- and emotion-oriented. Future leaders will develop their business with awareness about the impact on the society and the environment.