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The Warsaw Voice » Regional Voice » April 28, 2011
The Lower Silesia Voice
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Daring to Be Different
April 28, 2011   
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Igor Jeliński, managing director of the Abalone Group, and its Polish affiliate Akcja Job, talks to Barbara Deręgowska about his company, its history and business philosophy.

You are a shareholder in France’s Abalone Group, which entered the Polish market several years ago. What does the company specialize in?
The Abalone Group was established 20 years ago in France and was the first French temporary employment agency to receive the ISO 9002 Quality Management System certificate. The company was founded by Francois-Xavier Moutel, who was later joined by Michael Gendron and myself. The three of us have had one goal since the beginning: to help people find jobs on the construction and industrial markets. We have created an agency we like to refer to as a “tribe.” To us, everybody is equally important, be it our recruiters or people who are seeking jobs. We pay a great deal of attention to the quality of the services we provide and anybody who has used our services once will stay with us for a really long time. The condition is for the employee to meet the expectations of our customers, that is, companies which provide jobs. That is to say that even though we only deal with temporary jobs, using our help you can stay employed practically nonstop by having consecutive contracts extended.

The same rules apply to all companies in the group, including those set up in Poland. Exploring new territories, in 2006 we established the Akcja Job company in Wrocław, with a website at www.akcjajob.pl. The company helped people find temporary, outsourced and permanent employment. Two years ago, a company called Akcja-Bud was established to provide a wide range of construction and assembly projects that employed renewable energy. Nelson Lamartine, the third company we established at the end of last year, provides human resource consulting, specializing in executive search. You can learn more details at www.nelsonlamartine.com

I have managed to build a team of professionals with many years of experience. While searching for them, I used the know-how I acquired while I was president of Polifarb Cieszyn-Wrocław several years ago. When we recruited employees for that enterprise, we tried many companies which provided employee search services in Poland and so now I know what mistakes to avoid.

You have been successful despite stiff competition. What’s the secret of your success?
I always tell people to “dare to be different.” In our group it is really the people who come first. When we write “People Above All” on our folders, it is not just an empty slogan. We always keep our obligations and work hard to meet the expectations of both our customers and the employees we recruit. Our relations are founded on trust and honesty. Besides, everyone should have work as the common goal. We emphasize high standards of work that translate into good financial results. At the same time, we know how to look after the interests of our “charges.”

Our recruitment activities are not restricted to the offices we have in major cities. We also travel to small towns in our fully equipped mobile office on wheels. Our staff have international experience and practical knowledge of business standards, which helps them pick the right employees for our customer, whether it’s a blue-collar worker in a temporary job going to France on contract or working here in Poland, or searching for a senior manager for a large enterprise. All the companies of the group work according to the principles of corporate social responsibility.

The Abalone head office has for several years been housed in an environmentally friendly and zero-energy building which the company designed itself. Putting environmental protection into action is still a difficult thing to do, but it is becoming a necessity nonetheless.

Some time ago we developed a system to obtain and store renewable energy and used the system in our building in France. We also have labs there which keep working on new solutions to protect the environment and obtain energy from it. We want to prove that buildings can function normally in any season of the year drawing energy exclusively from the sun and air. We would like to be able to construct such buildings in Poland. Our Akcja-Bud company has for two years focused on construction elements which can make use of renewable energy and ensure energy efficiency by using natural sunlight as the source of lighting in all kinds of structures. The company sells and installs such devices.

We have embraced ecology and see a bright future when it comes to environmental protection. We have bought over 100 electric cars for the entire group. Such cars are ideal for those who mainly drive in cities. Electricity is much cheaper than diesel fuel and gas and once your electric car runs out of energy, you can recharge it just like your cell phone.

You recently returned from a round-the-world trip. Two intense years of experiences that are out of reach for those who stay at home. Was the trip worthwhile?
It absolutely was! On a trip like that you take a step back from whatever you may encounter in life. I am happy I decided to spend the last two years with my family like that. We drove in our own car, we had a tent with us and we met people. That was the most beautiful thing. It is the people and not exotic places that are the best part of each journey. I kept a journal of the trip which you can view at www.5dm.fr and on weekends, I ran around with my laptop searching for a signal so I could run the company. It will most likely result in a book and besides, I had a job to return to. I came back with many plans and I hope I’ll be able to fulfill them. I do not work just to do business, but also, if not above all, to fulfill my own ideas. You have to keep developing or else you will become a machine.

Igor Jeliński, 41, married with three children. Graduated from Ecole Supérieure de Commerce in Paris (LIBS) and the University of North Carolina, Wilmington, United States. He specialized in Management and Finance.

He was finance director for Polifarb Cieszyn-Wrocław, and quickly became the president of the company’s management board. Back in France, he became Retail Europe Finance Director in SigmaKalon, PCW shareholder.

He spent the last two years traveling around the world with his family. Today, he is developing his own business with his two partners.
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