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27 April 2009

"Universal manager"

"Today, in a time of crisis is not too difficult to work: it is enough to provide quality services, not to delay payments on insurance, give in time deposits"

Chairman of the Board of Directors' Investment and Financial Group "TAS" Popenko Sergei Pavlovich in an interview with Contracts told that:
1) the sale of the insurance business is profitable during the crisis
2) the Group "TAS" has continued to invest in the business and support the cinema in the art-house style
3) A good leader does not have to be a wedding General

From aircraft - to finance

How do you work during the crisis?

- Times are tough, but interesting. Initially, of course, was a shock, but then we tried to adjust costs to support basic and close (suspend) the unprofitable projects, develop a plan B. However, IFG "TAS", which includes nearly 100 companies and specializes in financial and insurance markets, industry (railroad cars) and venture projects (pharmacy network "Dasha", agricultural projects, etc.), even in a crisis does not give up investment in promising new directions.

Do you have a plan B?

- No, personally I have no such plan. You can, so to speak, lie down in a small house near Kiev, and wait until the crisis ends. But I like to be in the thick of things, and not hide on the sidelines.

When you started your career, it was easier or harder than it is now?

- It's hard to say. In 16 years, I left to study from native Zhitomir to Kharkov Aviation Institute. It was a difficult decision - to go in 1993, the country collapse, hyperinflation. At school I like foreign languages, and I plan to become a diplomat or translator. However, by 1993 th point in a diplomatic career I have never seen: in the difficult economic situation required educational setting that could quickly start making money. Almost by accident, I entered the Kharkov Aviation Institute at the Faculty of Economics: in high school won the Olympics, and I was not invited there to study exams.

Did you afraid to leave home at such a young age?

- This was a very important decision that affected the rest of my life. In fact, from the age of 16 I became almost completely independent from their parents, to build their lives on their own, for himself answered. The third year working at the customs, published in the Economic Journal, "All about accounting": writing about the customs legislation.

The bread was not enough?

- It's not that. I was just wondering combine different directions. Then read in the original language is quite a lot of foreign books on economics. At the same time pulled the English - language skills helped me a lot, when after graduation began working with the World Bank.

What was your relationship?

- I was not a staff member of the World Bank, and worked at the Ukrainian Center of restructuring, created by the World Bank. UTSRP tried or own funds to improve the financial situation of distressed businesses or attract investors in the company. We have raised different assets: knitting factory, steel plant, a plant for the production of gas stoves, a factory for the production of medical glass, etc. Our team financiers, marketers, technologists and HR-specialists.

Who you were in this team?

- Originally was a financier, and then became the team leader, coordinated the work and led projects.

It seems that your work at that time very reminiscent of consultants of international companies like Bain and McKinsey ... no desire to join the ranks of professional advisors?

- These companies are fairly closely with the World Bank for restructuring. For a while I even worked at Bain under contract. But in principle, work in consulting companies I was not interested because I was educated in parallel to the MBA.

At what business school you attended?

- The Slovenian school IEDC-Bled School of Management. Allowed me to study in the first place to put its expertise in business management, combining practice with theory Ukrainian European business school. The base was good because it taught almost all well-known American and European professors we had professors from Harvard, Wharton, from the French school INSEAD. Composition professors was no worse than the British or American top schools.

Sell ​​on time

What do you do after MBA?

- By the end of my training, I became CFO UTSRP. The head of the board of directors of this organization was Tihipko, who then headed the government financial unit. In his spare time, Sergei Leonidovich conducted interviews with young professionals, one of whom was me. In 2000, he resigned from the shareholders of PrivatBank and began the formation of the "TAS". I was one of the members of his team, which constructs a system of company management. First, together with colleagues is the construction of the holding, then went into the insurance business group, and from 2003 to 2005, we are actively engaged in the consulting business: in addition to business management group "TAS", advising foreign clients: develop a strategy, organizational structure, a system of budgeting and motivation in the financial sector.

In 2005, when Sergei Leonidovich headed TAS-Commerzbank, I became CFO of the financial institution, where he worked for more than two years. During this time we have formed a bank holding company, acquired TAS-Investbank, began to aggressively expand reteylovy business, which was the main ideologue Tihipko. We have managed to build up time and business, assess the situation, go to the foreign market, to attract a strategic investor and quite profitable to sell TAS-Commerzbank and TAS-Investbank Swedish group Swedbank.

Do you built a bank holding company for sale?

- No. We just analyzed the financial market and tried to assess what direction the banking business will be most in demand in the next two to three years. In 2005, the bank was developed Retailing pretty bad. Many financial institutions have lent population, but the approaches to the retail lending everywhere was the same: the customer comes to the bank, he was given a huge set of documents, credit procedure lasted for weeks. We unify, simplify and automate the process.

However, by 2007, domestic banks, it was difficult to compete with foreign financial institutions, receiving from the parent cheap resources. The second reason to attract Western investors - the need for bank capitalization. We had to look for new sources of development.

In fact, the group "TAS" - is a portfolio investor...

- You could say that. If desired, and a good price offer all of the assets in the group structure can be sold. The only thing the company is unlikely to give up, - a bank, because it - an important link in the business, a great source of manpower, IT-technologies and new companies. However, under a deal with Swedbank we should sell the bank "Business Standard" and are now in the process of negotiations with potential investors. I think at the end of the term of this agreement, we will return to the banking business.

Which sectors of economic interest to you for investment?

- Today we are interested in companies with stable demand for their product / service, or an attractive investment in the long run. For example, a rather interesting segment of mineral water. Opportunity to consolidate, the number and weight class players, the industry has a high potential. We are interested in grain processing. Insurance is also a very attractive sector for investment. Among the new projects are coming on sectorally prospective basis.

Is the Group "TAS" ready to invest in the insurance business?

- We are currently in talks to sell a controlling stake IG "TAS" to strengthen its market position and market share. Now is the time to join our company and another two or three players in the insurance market, to build the largest insurance holding company. In principle, even a low selling price IG does not frighten us - three to four years, 49% of our shares will be much more expensive the current market value of the company. As they say, a loss must be approached with a calculator - and then find a benefit.

Today, in the financial and insurance sector is not too difficult to work: just provide customers with quality service, not to delay payments on insurance, give deposits on time, etc. With these competitive advantages can continue to gain market.

Support festivals of art-house cinema - it is a new business project of team?

- Beginning in the fall group "TAS" spent several film festivals (Days of German, French, British, Spanish cinema in Ukraine). But this cultural and social projects, which are part of the culture of the group. We want to introduce Ukrainian audience with the best of contemporary world cinema. For example, recently brought to Ukraine's Oscar-winning movie - "Slumdog Millionaire", and now - "The Wrestler" with Mickey Rourke. By the way, before our interview in Kiev at the invitation of Sergei Tigipko came director of this film - Darren Aronofsky. We will continue to practice such a meeting. Perhaps with time and organize workshops for student filmmakers.


In your experience, what is the most interesting area of ​​business to do?

- Of course, a pleasure to do that already know how. As a banker, I find it easier and easier banking job. On the other hand, the scope of marketing or HR - interesting, although this is worse I understand. A good leader has to understand everything, and not be a wedding general.

How do you motivate subordinates in the current difficult circumstances?

- I give interesting problems. The most important thing in the motivation - is the responsibilities imposed by the employee, and respect for him. In people's eyes to light up the work that they are interested. And this can only be achieved by allowing them to solve important problems.

So you are free to delegate authority?

- I try. This is definitely a big risk. A person can not light any solution issue - and as a result the task is completed. However, such tests can identify the range of people who are able to work very effectively. Building a team has always been a key objective of our shareholders: it always has been and there is a long bench - people who are ready at any time to take up a new business challenge. On a bench, and I sat for a while.

Are you ready now go to lift, for example, a factory?

- If it is stand such a task and there would need to - I with pleasure will take care of it.


Popenko Sergei Pavlovich was born September 11, 1976. In 1998 he graduated from the Kharkov Aviation University, specialty - engineer of Production Management. He received his MBA from the Slovenian school IEDC-Bled of Management. Has over 6 years of experience in leadership positions. Since 2008, the head of the Council of Directors of "TAS".

Author: Natalia Sapunova
Source: Business Weekly "Contracts"