Career Story: Tomasz Pilewicz, Philips

June 03, 2015

Professional MBA Entrepreneurship & Innovation alumnus

What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why?

What impacted/affected me the most was the period after I graduated from the University of Warsaw and started working in management consulting. It was a time of rapid professional growth for me. I was able to meet company leaders who found time to coach me one-on-one and enabled me to shadow them at work by taking me to their customer visits and internal strategic meetings. Within a short period of time, I was able to lead my own team projects and train younger colleagues. In 3.5 years at PwC, I moved from Intern to Senior Associate. During that time, I participated in over 30 business advisory projects for various industries, published more than 10 professional articles, and graduated from postgraduate and PhD studies at the Warsaw School of Economics. Thanks to this deep-dive into business just after graduating, I made, I believe, a “giant leap” in terms of business consciousness, acumen, relationship building, and value creation.

Did you originally want to pursue a career in a different field? If so, why is it that nothing has come of your plans?

As a graduate of MA studies in Public Policies and Welfare, I originally wanted to join the National School for Public Administration, whose graduates were presented with firm, elite positions in national central administration. I was rigorously preparing for the recruitment for over 8 months, only to get dropped towards the very end of the recruitment. However, I don't consider that a failure. The knowledge and skills I gained through this rigid self-study period were proved useful during the complicated recruitment process at PwC, through which I landed a job in the public sector advisory practice at the company.

How and why did you come to work for Philips?

I left PwC 1.5 years ago to get more “hands-on” business experience by conducting undertakings myself, rather than working on them as an adviser. My journey with the public sector, which I initially wanted to pursue, hasn't stopped. After PwC, I switched to Business to Government and Government Affairs function at Philips, where now I’m a manager responsible for B2G and GA in Poland and the Baltic States. My position was an innovation for Philips when I first came in, which gave me a lot of elbow room to adopt unconventional approaches in unlocking new markets and sources of growth for the company.

What has changed in your career during your MBA? How did the program support you in reaching your career goals?

I’m in the middle of my studies at the WU Executive Academy, however I must agree with Dr. B. Scherzinger, who teaches Competitive Analysis and Strategy here and said that this would be one of the most important subjects in our professional careers. For me, this was not an exaggeration. The classes with Dr. B. Scherzinger were so practical that the following day I used the approach we discussed to craft a strategy for the business unit I operate in; currently I'm implementing it in the region I’m responsible for. I promote what I learn at the WU Executive Academy in the company by organizing webinars for Philips' interns and trainees during which I share with them both corporate-specific knowledge and selected insights I gained in the course of my MBA studies. By this, I believe I transform the company to be more competitive and attractive for existing and future employees. And I have so much fun doing it of course!

What has been your biggest professional/personal success?

My biggest professional and personal success are successes of the people I support and develop, and seeing how much they have grown. I’m also very proud of advising start-ups and SMEs and of running a blog for entrepreneurs and innovators that I started last year because I was curious to see what would happen. Both my advisory activities and my blog have turned out to be blockbusters without spending a penny for their promotion, so I can say they are a kind of personal success. But I’m convinced that greater success awaits me in the future.

What are your goals for the coming year?

My goal for this year is to take a couple of months of sabbatical leave from my regular work to travel to different places and cultures, and enjoy the views and local specialties. Also, I want to find time to write a book on business foundations.

What do you consider a “great luxury”?

The great luxury are the moments of indulging myself in a good book, while sipping coffee on the balcony at a sunny weekend and exchanging views and comments on the most abstract phenomena with my wife. Great luxuries for me are moments when I don’t need to rush and can just enjoy the world around me.

What was the last book/movie you really enjoyed?

For me, the best book ever is The Count of Monte Cristo by A. Dumas; the best movie in my opinion is The Fountain by D. Aronofsky. I enjoy them fully every time I go back to them, and so far nothing has beaten them even though I consume culture with an insatiable appetite.

How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership? Has it been influenced by a leadership role-model?

I agree that in general leadership is about transforming any vision into reality. To achieve this transformation, I find it's most important to communicate people's strengths, skills and potential to them in a way that someday they start believing it themselves, demonstrate it and personally elevate.

How do you recharge your batteries when you are not pursuing your demanding career?

Paradoxically, the best way for me to recharge my batteries is to run long distances, including half-marathons and marathons, where I have the best undivided attention of myself for myself and time for deep reflection. Most of the best ideas I ever had came to my mind while I was running, and I don’t go out running without note-taking equipment like an  app on my mobile. I recharge greatly while swimming, too, but pitifully I haven’t discovered how to jot down ideas popping up in my mind underwater. These activities are true “energizers” for me, and I like to do them before going to work. What I find refreshing afterwards is to dance rock and roll, salsa or waltz with my wife.

If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?

Bond. James Bond.

Why would you recommend the Professional MBA of the WU Executive Academy? What did you like the most?

I’d recommend the Professional MBA in Entrepreneurship & Innovation to all those who find themselves entrepreneurial and would like to know how to precisely focus and leverage their potential in order to achieve distinguishing results. The things I like about this MBA are the unconventional teaching methods and the very critical approach toward what is commonly thought about business. The thing I like the most is studying together with successful businessmen, startuppers and mavericks from all over the world, which allows you to benefit from a wealth of different experiences and points of view; I find it the core principle of the program, as it challenges your idea about business and makes you see it differently.


My motto in life:
Fortune helps those who dare.
I can laugh about:
Things that most people would easily classify as bad luck, punishment or hardship.
Mistakes I am most likely willing to forgive:
Shortcomings of people who don't want them to be perceived as such and who make a serious effort on that score.

I would spend my last money on:
Martini. Shaken, not stirred.
In 20 years I will be:
I’ll be running Pilewicz Enterprises consisting of several well established businesses. I’ll enjoy traveling and book-writing and, in parallel, be working on business breakthroughs with people I’ll support and develop. At the WU Executive Academy, they say that there is only one direction … entrepreneurship and innovation!

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