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The True Value of the Alumni Network

April 08, 2020

Why "willing to help" works so well

How the MBA alumnus Peter Wilfinger managed to conquer the Romanian market with his company Kardex Austria GmbH through WU EA Connect, thanks to the support of another MBA alumnus, Adrian Pocola.

Portrait Peter Wilfinger

Peter, you are Director of New Business Austria and Managing Director at Kardex Austria GmbH. In which markets are you active, which products do you offer?

Kardex Austria GmbH is a subsidiary of Kardex AG, which is listed on the Swiss stock exchange. We are the world market leader in the field of automatic and semi-automatic supply systems in the intralogistics sector. Our machines can be found in companies in a wide range of industries: from automotive, engineering, food & beverage, pharmaceuticals, e-commerce, wholesale, etc. to hospitals and nursing homes.

What specific challenges did you face in the past years and how did your alumni network help you?

As Managing Director of the Austrian company, I was asked to lead the development of a seperate organization in Romania. At that time we decided that we would no longer serve Romania through a dealer, but with our own company. In other words, to set up a company within a few months. That means: founding a company, finding an office, hiring employees, etc.

I then looked into WU EA Connect and came into contact with Adrian Pocola, an alumnus who lives in the very city in Romania where we wanted to open our company: Timisoara. Adrian supported us in many areas, especially in finding an office, PR and contacts to potential target clients. Of course, he was able to help us a great deal in terms of the local language.

What was the outcome? What would have been the result if Adrian had not supported the project with his know-how and contacts on site?

Adrian was especially helpful in finding an office and in contacting a local advertising agency that organized our opening ceremony. Even the deputy mayor of Timisoara and a TV team were present. It would certainly have been much more difficult to get all this going without Adrian's help.

What other opportunities does WU EA Connect offer for members / alumni of the WU Executive Academy? Why should every graduate use WU EA Connect (updates, events, job vacancies, etc.)?

Contacts and data are the gold of the 21st century. With more than 4,500 alumni in our network, you will find competent contacts for almost every challenge or question. No matter if it is legal questions, a job search or something completely different. This is the biggest advantage for me. Of course, there are always exciting insights from alumni or experts on current topics in the field of lifelong learning.

Portrait Adrian Pocola

Adrian, you are the founder of SCZ GROUP in Romania. What is your company specialized in? Which products/services do you offer?

We are a group of companies offering solutions in the field of IT, security and pharmaceutical industry consulting. We cooperate with top companies in Romania and offer everything: from infrastructure, to equipment, training consulting and security products. A year ago I founded a new company, a contract research organization (CRO) in the pharmaceutical sector, with which we are active throughout Europe.

What was it like when Peter contacted you? What information did you share on WU EA Connect that Peter came across you?

I knew Peter briefly from the regular meetings and events at the WU Executive Academy on the Vienna campus. WU EA Connect was the platform on which I first looked for more information about him. And then we got into closer contact by e-mail and telephone.

For me, it was an obvious step to provide a fellow MBA student with all the help I could think of, whether it was making contact with various stakeholders and actors on the Romanian market, producing brochures or involving local media representatives.

Pic of an alumni network event
The regular events of the WU Executive Academy offer the opportunity to exchange ideas and network with other alumni.

How could you support him in entering the Romanian market?

I believe that I helped him find office locations, especially in the beginning. Then I supported him in setting up the office and put him in contact with some potential clients, the press and the responsible authorities. The opening event was a great event and a great success for everyone involved.

How would the story have gone for Peter and Kardex Austria GmbH without your support?

I assume that Kardex Austria GmbH, as a leading company in the intralogistics market, would have done ok on their own. But the speed and local contact with all the key stakeholders made it easier for them. This enabled them to focus even more on their potential customers, which in turn had a positive impact on the business results in the first weeks and months.  

Our current alumni survey shows that our graduates from CEE countries support the alumni network even more actively than the average graduate - be it by organizing alumni events at local hubs, exchanging experiences with future students or the willingness to become mentors for high potential/less experienced managers. Why do you think this is the case?

People in the CEE region, and Romanians in particular, are very helpful and always open to new things. But I am not the only one who says this. Many people who have to do with Romanians in their professional or private lives also do. We are said to have a special friendliness - my colleagues and I don't hesitate when it comes to actively supporting an MBA colleague. In our Romanian community, by the way, this does not only apply to colleagues from the same class and year. We live in different places and actively try to connect with alumni who have studied in the years before or after. I am sure that in the future there will be many more success stories like those of Peter and me to tell.

For more information about the WU Executive Academy community, please click here.

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