This year Nova Poshta topped the ratings of the most expensive national brands, as analysed by leading Ukrainian business media. At the start two ambitious future businessmen Vyacheslav Klymov and Volodymyr Popereshnyuk had 7,000 dollars for the first order prepayment. Today the co-founders of Nova Poshta are among the top 100 richest Ukrainians, they continue to develop the company and long for improving the country's business environment as a whole. After all, more achievements come with more challenges.
– Today Nova Poshta is the leader of the Ukrainian logistics market. Have the expectations you had at the start of the project come true?
In late 2000–early 2001, when my future partner Volodymyr Popereshnyuk came up with an idea of an express delivery service in Ukraine, we did not have any special expectations. But we were really keen on changing the landscape and creating something meaningful. It was not until eight years after the start that we understood we were making a great story. Having survived the 2008 crisis, we had our first good profit and gained recognition. During the first few years, we did not have any salaries at all. We have a family joke that the apartment which I rented with my future wife was paid by her for several years.
– What stimulated you to develop your business without stopping at the achieved?
From the start, we have been full of energy and gumption without which, I'm sure, no business can be launched. Of course, we did not know enough about how to actually do business or manage a company and its resources. And we did not know who to learn from. There were no benchmarks in the Ukrainian market at the time and there are none now. Later, we learned a lot in a business school but initially we were guided by intuition. And we got off to a rather good start because a growing market gives a lot of opportunities in addition to difficulties: the express delivery market posts a double-digit growth annually.
What came next was responsibility for people, both clients and employees. Our development got a very good boost from competition. In order to move forward, you should always feel someone breathing down your neck, or you should be breathing down someone's neck. And, finally, we just like what we do.
– How would you define Nova Poshta's business mindset?
Our mission is easy delivery for life and business. We are constantly investing in simplifying the processes both within the company and in customer service. We influence the lives of millions of people and want this impact to be as positive as possible. We do not want to become the largest and richest businessmen. We want the country to have more entrepreneurs to form a strong economy and a strong state.
We have been building our business in this country for almost 18 years, providing jobs to more than 28,000 people, paying billions of hryvnyas in taxes annually but the state has not ensured an adequate business environment yet. We have built two industries that Ukraine can be proud of: e-commerce and express delivery. They involve thousands of employees and hundreds of companies. And now they want to take this tidbit of a private business away by passing a bill on the monopoly of a state operator. I very much hope that in our country there are still people who can adequately assess the risks and prevent such violation of not only the national but European legislation too.
– What is needed for a successful transformation of business processes and management models?
It is important for all stakeholders, from owners to shippers, to be involved in the processes of transformation. Of course, partners must share a single vision for development. If your partner has different goals or values , it is unlikely to work out.
Of course, you need to have a clear transformation scenario. In our country, stability is an unattainable luxury but a change in the external situation has nothing to do with planning. Planning is mandatory.
At the same time, strangely enough, a real transformation is most likely to happen in a time when a company is in crisis: remember the successful transformations of Apple or British Petroleum, which they had gone through on the eve of a seemingly inevitable collapse. In the time of change, you create a new corporate reality for your employees, customers and business partners. And this reality should be fascinating and attractive enough so that nobody could even consider doubting it or thinking the old one was better.
– We live in a world that is ruled not by capital but by innovative ideas which quickly capture the markets and reshuffle the main players. Is your company open to experiments?
Of course, we are constantly working on innovations: from trifles to huge terminals. Last year we launched the Kyiv Innovation Terminal, where manual sorting is reduced to absolute minimum. All decisions are being made by a computer while a system of scanners is taking care of sorting the parcels. Another example is our own payment system Nova Pay, which an in-house product. It is unrivalled in Ukraine in terms of reliability, speed and convenience.
We are constantly learning from the best companies, monitoring what the global market leaders are doing and trying to keep pace with all the changes. All of this allows us to maintain the highest quality ranking in the country: 99% - reliability of delivery, 70% - NPS (Net Promoter Score, a client loyalty index).
– You have mentioned the Kyiv Innovation Terminal which Nova Poshta launched in March. Could you tell us about this innovation and how it will change the delivery system?
For us, KIT is a symbol of Nova Poshta's transition from analog to digital. In essence, this is a model of what Nova Poshta is going to be in the future. The new terminal can serve more than 20,000 parcels per hour. For example, its equipment can simultaneously scan a parcel on five sides. The capacity of the terminal is 2.5-3 times higher than at others'. We have invested 15m euros in the construction of the first stage of the KIT terminal. If it were not for KIT, we would not be able to cope with the load in peak periods. And, in fact, this terminal changes delivery by making it fast, manageable and predictable.
– The e-commerce and logistics market in Ukraine is developing rapidly. What is ahead for the industry as you see it?
People are even more actively buying online. I think this year, as in the previous ones, the e-commerce market, and therefore express delivery, will grow by a double number.
– How to earn customer trust?
You need to try to understand clients as best as you can and take their priorities into account. What does a customer of a logistics company really need? A person's intention to buy something should be primary and a convenient delivery secondary. An ideal delivery service, for which everyone is aspiring, is a delivery that is as unnoticeable as air. A client clicks on the payment button in an online store and a minute later the bell door rings and a smiling pretty messenger hands in the purchase and disappears. My goal for the future is to completely spare the client of any unnecessary efforts. In the meantime, we have to provide the best service.
– How to develop a corporate culture and translate the company's values to the team?
I think that from the very beginning it is necessary to engage people who share your ideas and values. What are Nova Poshta's values? We want to offer the best express delivery service in Ukraine. We want to create the best service company in Ukraine. We want to organize an infrastructure that, in a very friendly and easy manner, will facilitate the development of Ukrainian business and communication between Ukrainians and both the whole world and their relatives in the country.
I cannot say yet that we have built a perfect company culture. Our employees mostly serve customers with a smile because there is a "contact" between them, they are proud of working for Nova Poshta, of having visitors and being appreciated. But much more needs to be improved, it is a big challenge for us.
– How to motivate people to implement your ideas?
This is indeed one of the most important and difficult problems. You would agree that it is difficult to satisfy a client if a responsible employee is not satisfied either with the psychological environment in the team, the level of wages or working conditions. In other words, a satisfied or, if you like, happy employee is the best advertisement of a company, its best promotion. At the same time, I would like to note that material motivation in this case is a mandatory but by no means sufficient condition.
Each task or position requires a person who will prove to be the best in this particular role and who shares the company's values. No less important is to build a clear interaction between the manager and subordinates. What else could motivate an employee? For example, an understanding of where the company is heading in its development.
Ignoring at least one of these factors is certain to affect the employee's attitude to work and, as a consequence, the company's performance. And, of course, it is necessary to hire the best without economizing on them.
– What competencies does a modern manager need to have? What skills and knowledge are required from a leader?
The leader is, above all, the person who takes responsibility. Leadership is not about a post because a foreman who supervises three workers is also a leader. And he may as well have more leadership skills than the head of a corporation.
Every second the leader must exude confidence in victory. People feel and believe not so much in speeches but in the leader's straight back and smile and, most importantly, they have trust in their work.
At the same time, the leader has a good intuition and trusts it. There is nothing mystical about it. Intuition is the sum of your experiences and senses. After all, the company is your kid. And if, for example, I feel that our new advert should be not a minute or 30 seconds long, this is how it should be done. I want it that way and it is not a whim. It is important to very clearly catch this moment: "I want it that way!"
– What, in your opinion, prevents a person from achieving the goal?
Lack of will. People often have wonderful ideas but give up halfway for various reasons. If a person does not know how to lose, it is also an obstacle. For example, in any sport - boxing or football – it is impossible to constantly attack. You can take a respite or not attack for a whole. But any brief respite is just a way to accumulate energy before reaching the goal.
I think that laziness is a strong obstacle to achieving success for most people. First of all, parents are to blame. I have heard parents say countless times: "He is very talented but lazy." This is just an excuse. You have to fight laziness.
– How do you see Nova Poshta in 10 years?
I do not believe in predictions and forecasts but I believe in systemic and persistent work. I believe in the effort. If you are constantly making efforts, you are guaranteed to succeed.
I want Nova Poshta to become an impeccable company in terms of service and quality. Its financial success will depend on the achievement of these goals.
Photo: provided by Nova Poshta
Author: Natalia Kyrylenko