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Dariusz Macina, CEO: Balancing growth and culture is the key to sustainable success

February 22, 2023 / 9 min read

Dariusz Macina, CEO of NoA Ignite Poland

Recently NoA Ignite obtained two prestigious awards – Forbes Diamonds and a Great Place to Work certification. Read an interview Anna Rejkowicz conducted with Dariusz Macina, who has been the company’s CEO for almost six years.

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NoA Ignite was recently named a Great Place to Work and a Forbes Diamond. How has the company grown in recent years?

The Great Place to Work certificate and being among the Forbes Diamond winners are awards of a different nature. The first one shows a picture of the company from the perspective of the people who make it up and evaluate it in terms of criteria mainly related to organisational culture and the nature of leadership and business conduct. The second one is an award related to strictly financial metrics, showing our credibility as a business partner.

We regard the two awards granted together in relatively close proximity as visible proof that our strategy of building an employee-friendly organisation based on trust, support and development is also business-profitable, translating into employee engagement and client satisfaction, both positively increasing the value of the company.

This approach is no accident. NoA Ignite Poland is part of the Scandinavian group The North Alliance, which brings together more than a dozen companies from Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Finland and Poland. Values such as equality, mutual respect, curiosity and autonomy are the basis of the Scandinavian management model, which we have been applying in Krakow since 2005. We strongly believe that by operating this way, we stimulate innovation and unleash the potential hidden in our employees, which directly translates into the quality of our services and benefits for our clients.

In the last three years, despite the difficulties associated first with the pandemic and more recently with the war in Ukraine, we have managed to record a significant and approximate 65% increase in revenue (PLN 23.5M in 2019, PLN 38.6M in 2022), with a profitability of 17%. We operate even more internationally, winning clients in the UK, Scandinavia, Benelux or Switzerland.

Forbes Diamonds is a distinction in the ranking of the fastest-growing Polish companies in the last 3 years.
What criteria were taken into account?

The ranking criteria are very objective because they consider purely financial aspects related to the size and growth of revenues, profitability, liquidity or timely payment of liabilities. This is the basis on which a so-called "reliability rating" is created and awarded to the individual entities subject to examination.

Being present on the Forbes Diamonds list is, first and foremost, a confirmation that NoA Ignite has excelled in a period uneasy for entrepreneurs initiated by the pandemic. For our clients, this serves as a recommendation and proof that we are a reliable partner worth working with, and for our employees, it is a guarantee of workplace stability.

Why do you think Forbes decided to recognise us?

The credibility rating is based on financial data and identifies the fastest-growing companies in the region. So, it would be easiest to say that Forbes recognised us because we are a growing and solvent company. But that would be an incomplete answer by far because it doesn't show why we get the results we do.

We are growing because we are able to reach out and convince clients with international ambitions, often operating globally, to establish partnerships. Working with brands such as Electrolux, NA-KD and Coop and being able to participate in their digital transformation gives us the experience and know-how to further fuel our growth.

What is our greatest strength that resulted in us being listed in the Forbes Diamonds ranking?

In my opinion, our greatest strength is the balance between the desire to grow, to build a client-centric organisation and to provide development opportunities for our employees. Like any entity, we want to develop and grow, but we do so in a controlled manner.

We do not forget that growth must not degrade the quality of our relationships with clients and employees.

We are a mature organisation already, but we value partnership and non-corporate relationships based on trust and advice.

We help our clients harness the potential of digital products to build and grow their businesses, showing possible paths to growth and digital transformation.

We are not just enforcers and executors of ideas and strategies; we create the strategy for the benefit of our clients.

To operate in such a manner, we need to have a wide range of competencies that work well together, from digital strategy and consulting to product and solution design, to technical implementation and ongoing development of already implemented solutions. This, in turn, requires coordination and mutual understanding between experts from different fields.

people laughing

These last 3 years have not been the easiest for many companies - how did NoA Ignite handle the time of the pandemic and how did the pandemic change our work?

It’s true that the pandemic has permanently changed our work and the way the organisation operates. Above all, we had to learn how to cope in isolation, being forced to work remotely. While technically it seems easy, because after all, in the IT industry we work at computers anyway, in the long term there are negative effects such as a lack of a sense of having a relationship with colleagues and being part of a team, difficulty in separating work and private life, and sometimes even professional burnout.

All of this degenerates the organisational culture, which is why during the pandemic we have placed special emphasis on remote team integration, organising various games and social activities. On the other hand, the pandemic taught us that working remotely is not at all less effective, which encouraged us to open up even more to employees from outside Krakow. To this day, we still work in a hybrid model, where we let employees choose freely where they work, allowing both in-office and remote work.

Of course, the pandemic has also affected client cooperation and competition in the market. Paradoxically, in addition to the threats, there were also new opportunities, especially in the area of international cooperation. Clients from Western European countries previously accustomed to working with local companies have opened up to suppliers from Poland looking for more cost-effective business models.

Despite the pandemic, the changes, the movement in the market and employee turnover at the company remains low. What do you think makes employees decide to stay at NoA Ignite and often work here for several years at a time?

Indeed, we value long-lasting relationships and are pleased that almost 25% of the staff has at least five years of employment, which is rare in the IT industry. Such loyalty is not a coincidence but the result of our management philosophy based on competence development and enabling vertical and horizontal advancement. I myself am a prime example of this being part of NoA Ignite for 16 years now!

When I joined as a programmer in 2007, not even in my wildest dreams did I assume that my career would develop all the way to the position of CEO.

And there are even more examples like this one; in fact, the entire management team is made up of people who have been associated with the company for years and perfectly understand the values of our organisation.

In addition, which is not at all common in the IT industry, we are very open to interns and people without much experience. While most companies are eager to hire "seniors," we are eager to welcome and develop the skills of younger people. We usually organise internship programs twice a year, and as a result, we give opportunities to about ten talented people a year. We have many examples of people who started their IT adventure in NoA Ignite and have been working with us for several years each. The record holder is one of the developers who started as an intern in 2012 and now serves as an expert in CMS and e-commerce solutions.

NoA Ignite Poland company meeting

So, the Great Place to Work title was just a formality?

Not really. I have to admit that we were a little worried about the results because it is one thing to convince leaders of the rightness of the actions taken and another to have employees evaluate these actions. In our case, we found that the two perspectives converged.

The Great Place to Work certification is also an opportunity to receive real feedback from employees in an anonymous survey.
What were its results?

Feedback from employees is the most important aspect of the Great Place to Work initiative. The results show how employees perceive the organisation and, more importantly, indicate what else we can do better. The GPTW survey examines the organisation in terms of five elements that are important from the employee's point of view, awarding a rating that expresses the percentage of positive responses in each category.

  • Reliability (90%). Compliance with declared values, consistent and transparent communication inside and outside the organisation.
  • Respect (93%). Providing psychological safety, opportunity for free speech, and space to make mistakes.
  • Integrity (92%). Equal treatment regardless of gender, age or sexual orientation, the opportunity for promotion, the chance for everyone to excel regardless of roles in the organisation.
  • Pride (82%). Performing meaningful activities that positively affect the well-being of our clients but are also socially relevant, making a difference in the world.
  • Fellowship (91%). The opportunity to build healthy, friendly relationships and a sense of being an important part of the team.

We have achieved results that we are proud of, but we have also noticed areas that are still worth working on.

Did any answers surprise you? Maybe you want to make some changes based on that?

To be honest, the answers did not surprise me; they confirm that a management philosophy based on transparent communication, involving employees in decisions and promoting grassroots initiatives positively affects the organisation's development. This can be seen in employee evaluations and our financial results.

In terms of making a difference, I would certainly like us to be even more involved in projects whose implementation will leave us with a sense of impact on our surroundings. We are a company with Scandinavian roots, and it seems only natural to us to address aspects such as sustainability, ecology, and the implementation of socially relevant projects. In this way, we would like to give our employees even more reasons to be proud of their work at NoA Ignite.

What are the company's development plans for the coming year?

We have some ideas for further development of the company. First and foremost, we intend to strengthen our position and recognition in the British market, which is a priority market for us in addition to Scandinavia. We are tailoring our range of services and competencies to meet the needs of British clients, and we are gradually increasing our physical presence and availability in the UK.

We are continuing our efforts to position ourselves as a trusted partner providing solutions in the Marketing Technology (MarTech) area, strengthening competencies in areas such as e-commerce and digital strategy. We will also benefit from the vast experience in the MarTech area of the entire The North Alliance group, which is working with the most recognizable brands in the Nordic countries. We believe that combining Scandinavian innovation with Polish software engineering is a mix that not only can but should be used for the benefit of clients across Europe.

At the same time, we do not forget that we are a software house, that is, a company that develops custom software. The core of the company is made up of developers with years of experience capable of developing complex platforms on cloud infrastructure. Our teams implement and develop solutions that often have an impact on tens of thousands of users, and are the core of our clients' business. This is the type of experience that can hardly be overestimated and that we will continue to benefit from.

Organization's growth should be sustainable to not degrade the company's culture and remain customer-centric.

We want to conquer new markets and clients, but we are also mindful that the organisation's growth should be sustainable and linked to a kind of internal transformation. We are preparing for further growth by adjusting our organisational structure and methods of operation in such a way as to maintain high work efficiency, as well as our unique organisational culture and values.




With over 15 years of experience in IT and digital transformation, Dariusz Macina is a CEO at NoA Ignite, where he has been instrumental in driving the strategic direction and business development since 2017. He has a unique blend of technical and business acumen, having completed his MBA, and is passionate about using technology to create real-world solutions. Outside of work, Dariusz enjoys spending time with his family and is a dedicated husband and father.
People discussing. The photo focuses on the laptops and a cup of coffee.

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Author

Anna Rejkowicz Marketing Manager at NoA Ignite Poland

Anna Rejkowicz

Marketing Manager

Anna is the Marketing Manager responsible for coordinating marketing activities in the Cracow office of NoA Ignite. Ania has experience in creating brand and communication strategies, as she worked previously as a Strategy Manager. She’s also a big enthusiast of creating a friendly business environment for effective CSR activities and supporting local NGO-s organisations.

anna.rejkowiczxyz@noaignite.com

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