On Executives Unpacked we get to know the people in leadership across the Connectivity, Satellite & NewSpace, Cyber Security and Content & Media industries. On Episode 20 we were joined by Michał Zachara, the COO at KP Labs, a Polish NewSpace company that develops advanced solutions such as processing units, software edge processing, and small to medium satellites. Michał has been interested in technology from a very young age, and has a love for adventure. Read on to learn more about this dynamic and innovative executive!
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learned during your career?
Technologies change all the time, and the business environment is changing very rapidly. People are the most important factor in our lives, so it’s important that you are surrounded by the right people. I’m trying to work with the best people in my career, and I’m trying to choose the people in my surroundings wisely. All the issues that I had in the past with clients and projects were all about communication. Even if you are doing the best job ever, if you cannot communicate it properly to your teammates or to your clients, you won’t be successful.
What do you wish that you’d been told earlier in your career?
I wasn’t told that being a grown up would be such a tough thing. I wish someone would have told me that real life is a little bit scary.
What is the best bit of advice you have been given?
The people that you’re working with are the key. If you’re not working with the right people, you will not be able to progress. Try to choose wisely, try to work hard and get the best from all the people that are around you. It’s very easy in corporate life to lose the people that aren’t working well, but it’s very hard to help someone flourish inside of the company. I learned that from my first mentor.
What type of things keep you constantly awake at night?
I’m a dreamer, and when I’m setting up some new topics for the company, I’m already two steps ahead and trying to think about the next future. Because of that, we are developing very rapidly. We grew from 3 people to 80 in four years, which comes with its own challenges. When you are a team of 10 or 20 people, you can discuss every problem with a cup of coffee in the kitchen. When you’ve got 80 or 100 people, you have to introduce processes very fast. The biggest challenge is how to scale faster and introduce processes that will not kill us and still give us a lot of fun in our work. The corporation has to be as agile as possible with the number of people they have.
Is there a single thread that’s run through your career that led to success?
I think it’s a mix of determination, luck and experience. I started my career as a quality assurance engineer, and a large part of that is finding bugs in our applications and the mistakes of other developers. You quickly learn how to deal with quality. I was told by my first leader that the quality of the work is not only the application, but the overall wealth that you’re delivering. I’m trying to move this focus on quality to every aspect of my life. That totally different experience has helped me to shape the everyday aspects of my work.
What’s the advice that you would give to others coming into the industry?
I’m giving this piece of advice to students in Poland who are studying space-related topics; be brave. People at the universities are saying that space is too hard, and it’s not for you because only the best have the chance to build a career in the space industry. Just try anyway. This rate of interest is developing really fast, and the NewSpace movement is making it much more open for new people to come in. You have to at least try to enter the market, because it’s a great adventure, and it’s a lot of fun.
To learn more about Michał’s work, listen to the Executives Unpacked Podcast here.