Markus Szirmay’s job as a business development manager with Piller Industrial Fans involves exploring new markets. GIZ’s training programme for managers, run on behalf of the German Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology, could have been tailor-made for him. Titled ‘Fit for business in Russia’, it’s already taken over 300 German managers to Russia to make valuable business contacts locally. Markus Szirmay is enthusiastic about the prospect of doing good business in Russia.
I really feel I’ve got to know the famous ‘Russian soul’; I’ve learned a lot about Russian culture and the mind-set – and the business culture, of course. Anyone who deals with the Russian market at first hand soon discovers how difficult it is to get an appointment in a Russian company: you can wait up to a month for all the necessary permits and paperwork. Meeting senior managers from top Russian companies is something I’d never have been able to do without this programme.
There are two things you need to remember in Russia: ‘be flexible’ and ‘expect the unexpected’! I can still remember learning that the hard way: it was on one of my first independent business trips, and I was stuck outside a hotel in the Urals in the middle of the night, exhausted and shivering in a thin business suit in temperatures of minus 15. The hotel didn’t want to let me in because I didn’t have a regional authority permit. I did eventually manage to find a warm bed for the night, though!
As well as the usual essentials, such as a toothbrush and a razor, I’d always take a compass, a dictionary, a torch and a penknife. Going on the Trans-Siberian is still a bit of an adventure: you never know if the train will break down in the middle of the Siberian forest and the passengers will have to hack their way through.
I was always interested in aeroplanes and I wanted to be a test pilot. Planes are actually continuous flow machines, just like fans and compressors, so you could say I came pretty close to fulfilling my dream in the job I do now.
I’d fulfil another dream and buy a stake in my company. I really believe in our products, and we have a well-deserved reputation as the market leader in many industrial sectors. I’d also give part of the money to an orphanage in Romania.