Meet the CxO


Meet the CxO – George Lazăr, CEO Wing Leading Edge

05

Sep 2017

Meet the CxO – George Lazăr, CEO Wing Leading Edge

Born in Bucharest, George Lazăr is a 43 years old CEO with an experience that goes back to the beginning of banking industry in Romania. With a passion for computers and technology that first started when he was 14 years old that never actually stopped, combined with pragmatism and prudence, you have a man with a stable vision that besides building visionary apps ahead of their time, he launched a bank in Romania.

Tell us a few words about how your company started.

When I started the company alongside my 2 associates in 2015, we wanted to do things differently by using our experience from the years we spent in the industry. We want our partnership with our clients to be a fruitful journey. When we work on a project we bring a new perspective, because we understand our client better than others. Our experience has taught us that you must have a larger perspective in order to anticipate your clients’ needs.

What drives you each day?

I have always tried to do things very well. I do not like half-done projects – it generates redundancies and inefficiencies in my activity and displease my clients – so I encourage the people around me to act accordingly. I teach my colleagues from my experience to do things with passion and professionalism.

What do you believe are the 3 main accomplishments that brought you here today?

I believe that firstly comes my permanent desire to learn and to do things well. Even as we speak I learn. I never stop learning. It is something natural, each new step to knowledge brings the next one and so on. After high school, I started my education at the Faculty of Mathematics at Bucharest University, and soon after I realized I need to complete my education and started the Faculty of Cybernetics at ASE. In 2007, I felt that I lacked some business and management knowledge, so I started an MBA. I didn’t start this MBA because I wanted to find a job, or to increase my salary three times, but because I wanted to learn new things and to have new perspective. I learnt to approach complex problems from new perspectives and I believe it helped me to better understand the reality that I work in. It helped me to see “the big picture”.
The second is the first meeting with a computer which happened somewhere around 1987-1988. My first computer was a Spectrum ZX 128k and it was something amazing back then. I was 14 years old and the computer only had 128k RAM, it was top notch, and it ignited my passion! The possibility to self-learn was almost a beautiful dream, the internet did not exist and it was hard to study, but I did it, driven by my passion.
Third comes the meeting with the internet, that happened somewhere around its prehistoric era. The www was still in text mode, but I found very interesting information. At each job I learned new things. At my first job, at Rasaq Stock Market, a very avant-garde project for Romania in 1996, I learned about networks, OS, business, to name a few. For Romania, in those years, to allow a number of over 200 companies to connect remotely and trade shares to over 5,000 entities it was extraordinary. Being an employee close to the start of the company’s activity, I managed to learn a lot, but most importantly, I learned how to be a professional.

What do you believe are the 3 main failures that brought you here today?

I don’t believe my failures have brought me here today, but rather my need for perfection. I haven’t met errors or very problematic situations – maybe because my need for perfection is doubled by my prudence. Structurally, I do not hurry and I do not panic when there are critical situations. I strongly believe that any problem has at least one solution – a thing I learned at the Mathematics Faculty. Also, I am very fair. I believe this counted as much as the others. I do not panic and I do not waiver from my professional standard.

Do you ever disconnect from the office? How?

Disconnecting from office. In theory, yes. My laptop is part of my holidays “must-have-in-bag”. Even before being an entrepreneur, as long as I had critical infrastructure in my responsibility, I couldn’t be disconnected permanently. I never had the luxury of being part of large teams, so disconnecting from the office is quite hard to accomplish. How do I do it? Sports – skiing, biking, basketball, travelling, everything my time allows me to do. Besides that, I read a lot – business and fiction – Science Fiction to be more specific.

Do you have any books you wish you could forget just so you can read it again?
Unfortunately, I have an excellent memory and it takes a long time for me to forget the books I read. But yes, I enjoy reading good books again because with every new read I discover new things or I see it differently. One of the series I have read several times is the Dune Series.

Education – classic or alternative? Both?

Hard to tell. In the classroom, one can learn new and different things. The quality of standard education is directly related to the average level of your classmates: If most of the students are brilliant, the professor chooses to teach at a higher level and the other students will not learn anything. If the level of most of the students is below average, then standard education is less valuable than alternative education. In my opinion, a combination of standard and alternative education is the best solution.

Now tells us more about the business you are running.

We work for the banking industry; we develop modules together with the specialists in the field. What we bring is experience, innovation, more complex modules than they can develop and cheaper than if they started to develop them themselves. We are determined to bring value and efficiency, all at reasonable costs.

What is your most beloved project you worked on?

I do not have one, but three projects:
The first one is a bond transaction app, the first of its kind in Romania, in 2000. Unfortunately, Romania was not ready for that, as the interest rates were very high, so issuing bonds was not profitable. The project was successful IT wise, but business wise it had a low impact. The primary market (the primary offer, listing the bonds) and the secondary market (transacting the bonds), started to be successful a few years later. We were there first, but too early for the business market.
The second one happened 10 years ago when I had a very complex project inside the bank I was working. I completely changed, across 2 years, the old systems: infrastructure, hardware, software, network, the core banking system, I installed card systems and made internet banking functional.
The third one, and very few people in Romania and even the world can say they had such an opportunity, was a greenfield project. To be more precise, I launched a new bank. It was an ambitious and complex project of which I am very proud.

What project forced you to be creative and innovative

Unfortunately, in my field of work, creativity does not follow the classic definition. Creativity for me means to find extremely efficient solutions because the industry I work in is extremely rigorous and does not allow for experiments, and I mean that in a good way. Working in banking for the time I have, one develops an aversion towards risks, everything must be well tested before, thus creativity appears when you choose one or more solutions from a somewhat limited series.

What was the biggest struggle?

We were going to launch a product at a conference where the President of Romania was going to be in attendance and 2 nights before the event we did not have everything in order. The pressure was extremely high and given the launch it was a great challenge but yes, I managed it well that time too.

What makes your company different from others in your field of expertise

I have the clients’ experience as well, as I was an IT manager in banks for more than 10 years, thus we understand very well the client and their needs. We want our projects to be finalized in a professional way, that’s why we have a different approach.

How are your products innovative?

Right now our products are focused on the consumer’s experience. And then everything that translates to a modern app: simplicity, elegance, easy to use and learn.
It is innovative because everything it does, as a result of our programming, makes it easier for the user.

Who is the biggest innovator for you?

An extraordinary innovator is Gutenberg. Developing the printing press gave us the possibility to learn, by multiplying the books at a much faster rate than the scribes and monks in monasteries.
In the same time, Elon Musk is a great visionary and I believe he managed to revolutionize several industries. PayPal money service struck a revolution when it comes to payments, SpaceX is the first private company that launched rockets on our planets orbit, Tesla Motors raised the standards in the auto industry by having the electric automobiles. Next is Hyperloop One and colonizing Mars.

What advice do you have for a young entrepreneur?

Do what you know. If you want to make it in a certain field, it must be one that you know very well. You will not have success in a field you do not know. There are many challenges even if you know it. Going from employee to employer is not very simple. You should start reading some business books, understand how the market works, how supply and demand work, even if it is a small market, not very elastic, there are laws that you have to understand. Understand the power of marketing, especially online and social media… and to be patient. That success won’t come right away, just because you want to became an entrepreneur.

Smart Alliance – Innovation Technology Cluster

Why did you join Smart Alliance – Innovation Technology Cluster?

I found the people in Smart Alliance, my peers, entrepreneurs resembling myself, some who have been entrepreneurs for longer, and Romanian companies that want to do things differently, better and more professionally in their own area of expertise.

How does it benefit you?

Brand awareness is our first benefit; we already collaborate with a few companies from the cluster and we will have joint projects.

How do you see your company as being part of the cluster?

Each company from the cluster delivers very well and together we can deliver even more complex projects for our clients.

How do you see the evolution of the cluster?
We want this cluster to grow organically, slowly, we do not want an explosive growth, but to bring in members that share our vision. Bring on more offerings for its members, organize more and more events about technology and what the cluster can do for its Romanian clients.


Meet the CxO – Cristi Săvescu, COO mWARE

13

Jul 2017

Meet the CxO – Cristi Săvescu, COO mWARE

Coming from Focșani, Cristi Săvescu is the COO of mWARE. Having 28 years old, he is one of the most promising Romanian entrepreneurs. Soon after he was flunked in math in 6th grade, he discovered a passion for mathematics that didn’t stop, not even today. Now he is a COO for the first company in Romania that took the concept of big data to a new level.

 

Tell us a few words about how your company started

Our company started in 2007, with the idea to build a consultancy company for Oracle Middleware technology. At that time, this particular technology was just being adopted by the market, thus we focused our attention on helping companies in Romania and Middle East to adhere at this technology. We understood very well the markets, and we could easily win clients and develop our firm. In 2012, things changed in our shareholders, and we moved our attention from Middle East to Europe, while keeping Romania as the main base for our firm. Starting with 2013, we started to develop a big data product and to this day we invest a lot in the R&D. We invested in research, innovation and the construction of this product, and right now we are the only ones in Romania that have a big data platform that can be integrated and its compatible with products from Oracle, IBM and Microsoft, to name a few.

What drives you each day?

I am a business man formed in ICT so having a firm with state of the art consultants is for me the dream I wanted to achieve. The idea of a business where we can innovate, where we bring real value to the market and to our customers, is what united us in the first place. We always try to foresee the needs of our consumers. Name it trends, if you want to, but what we do is far more powerful, as we don’t focus on something ephemeral, but on changes that affect the very core of our customers’ business, that brings positive changes to their modus operandi and brings a new philosophy in their company.

When we started to shape our ideas and develop the big data product back in 2013, I remember there wasn’t all this hype around the concept that you see nowadays. We are, practically, the pioneers in Romania on big data, and we sit at the table with big companies because our products can deliver real solutions to real needs, that maybe not even they can cover.

What do you believe are the 3 main accomplishments that brought you here today?

First of all, the fact that I managed to gather around me people with whom I could built a business, completely different from the common idea of a corporate company with strict rules and so on. Mainly because our core idea was to build around the idea of performance and delivering competence and, in the same time, fight for our employees, to keep them close and loyal.

Second of all, the desire to constantly deliver quality. For that, we had two very clear directions: 1) market and technology analysis, so we could have a good prognosis on what will be used in the future, and 2) deliver high-end products that can cover a constant flux of quality validation, no matter the cost, so that the consumer can be satisfied with our services and software.

Third I can say perseverance and consistency. Every entrepreneur had its ups and downs, bankruptcy, unpaid projects or that led to a dead end. Despite all this, you have to persevere and be consistent in your work, because if you don’t, that will affect your business and your employees on the long term.

What do you believe are the main failures that brought you here today?

I had some partnerships in businesses that I shouldn’t have been a part of. This is the main failure that an entrepreneur can have – going in a business that he doesn’t know. Starting a random business with 2 friends, there are not so many success stories. At least one of you has to know the market you want to enter. I tried to be part of something cool, like a shop, a restaurant, a bar, stuff like that, but it didn’t work, not in my case. Everything I accomplished was through ICT.

Also, I was flunked out at Math in sixth grade. Starting with seventh grade and until the end of high school, I was an Olympic in Math, and that became my principal driver, it became a passion for me.

Do you ever disconnect from the office? How?

My life is structured in three areas – business, recreational where I’m doing sports, and mathematics, a passion that follows me until today. I am still active in Olympic math commissions, I’m invited to math competitions where I recommend problems and so on. This is still one of my biggest passions up until this day and I don’t see it end very soon.

Education – Classic or alternative?

There are many things that Romanian education lacks in my vision, especially that I am still connected to it. First of all, I truly believe that education should be taken more serious. Not in the rigors that are in this moment, because I do not believe in the multidisciplinary education. For example, because I was a math Olympic I had some benefits in school, like being left alone by the other teachers, but in the same time besides math, my grades at other disciplines were quite low, as a result for not studying as thorough as my other classmates. Being serious is finding what or trying to find what you like to learn. And focus on that.

Second of all, the way the education is made now, is quite ubiquitous and that’s wrong. The world we live in does not need people with a vast general knowledge. We are in the situation where we have lots of graduates with straight A’s but a big problem in finding a job. Despite their general knowledge, an employer in my area of expertise, is looking for intelligence and perseverance, and doing your job very well, I want see the employee is a human being, not a robot.

Now tell us more about the business you are running. Let’s start with the clients you currently work on.

We have clients in the public and private sector. When it comes for the public sector, we work for the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Agriculture, Financial Supervision Authority, Competition Council, European Commission and others. For this clients our projects are mainly on middleware like portals, interoperability, SOA (Service Oriented Architecture), integration or modernization of old systems.

As clients in the private sector, we have Erste Bank, Telekom, Metnet and Amplexor, among others. For example, we are now working on a big data system for medical purposes. We want to come with an extensive platform of hospital management system that integrates the big data. Its purpose is to suggest treatments by taking in consideration the patient’s medical history and symptoms. Obviously, the final decision belongs to the doctor, but what we want to do in this project, as well as in all of our projects, is to create the necessary tools for the client so that we can aid and support him. We take the big data, which is a huge pile of information, stocked, and we add very intelligent algorithms that cover the quality of the artificial act of thinking. Thus the solution for our clients have a quantitative part, like big data, and a qualitative part, as we use neural networks that are very similar to the human act of thinking.

What is your most beloved project you worked on?

The most beloved project is a digital work space that we made for Amplexor and its still in progress. It’s a very long project, that we built, and now it ramifies functionally. It is a platform that wants to completely transform the traditional intranet, thus in any organization, any individual, can log in and find the information that he needs. It is extremely complex because it focuses on the employee.

The whole system is based on Oracle technology. The architecture of the project was made in almost a year by me and Amplexor’s architect, and its implementation lasted two more years. A great project, that I love being part of because it can structure any organization. Unfortunately, it’s very expensive to adhere at this platform, because it can be used by companies that work in retail, production, aerospace, you name it. Being this complex, the costs are very high, only the Oracle technology was 500,000 Euro.

What project forced you be creative and innovative?

The big data product. The most innovative by far. Its where we pushed our limits. Anytime a new idea was on the table, we had to take it to the extreme, see how it ramifies, how its projected in the market, in the clients’ needs and especially how much we need to work to make it happen.

What was/is the biggest struggle?

I can’t find workforce compatible with our spirit. First of all, because there is no competent workforce. Being member of mWARE doesn’t mean you have to know Java, Oracle or big data, but to be very intelligent, open and have a positive attitude. Everything can be learned, regardless of the technology. For example, we got taught by time and experience that the technology you know now, in a few years, it won’t matter as much, because the technological advancements are very fast and, sometimes, a new one can make an old completely useless. We want to see that you are opened to learn. Unfortunately, people are in search of quick money. In the same time the corporations came and employed a lot of people on big salaries and thus destroyed any sort of rush in our junior staff, and the worst part is that the best chose to leave the country. Finding good people to employ became harder, but I remain positive.

What is your advice for a young entrepreneur

You must never do things for money. You must do them because you like it. And I’m saying this from my experience. Every time I tried to do something for money, I failed miserably and when I did because I loved the project, the money was coming. So you must never look after money if you want to be a successful entrepreneur.

The most important advice is – take good care of your people, your employees. If it wasn’t for the people in mWARE, I would be nothing. Maybe not even a developer. I would literally have problems in finding work. So let’s not forget about the employees and I’m not saying this demagogically. They are the heart and core of any company.

What do you want to accomplish in the future?

We want to expand and to sell more. We do not plan on the long term. The most important thing for us is to have a bigger presence on the international market, to create a new and complementary product for our big data solution, and to make all of our products more intuitive. One good example are the Apple products. We truly want our platforms to be more and more intuitive and easy to use, so that any user can find everything he wants, whenever he wants.

Smart Alliance – Innovation Technology Cluster

Why did you join Smart Alliance – Innovation Technology Cluster?

A very good friend of mine who’s a founding member and also in the board of directors, presented me the idea of the cluster and its purpose. After a thorough analysis we decided that we should be part of Smart Alliance and I can’t say there are lots of things we regret. Obviously, we had our ups and downs, but I’m very positive about the following period.

How does it benefit your company?

The internal synergy with partners from the cluster and undoubtedly sharing on the clients. I like the fact that we take innovation to a new level, because when we are creating solutions that we deliver together, especially when it comes to heterogeneous technologies, we can bring to the table a product that can be seen as good as the ones from the big players, if not better.

How do you see the evolution of the cluster?

I started to be more involved in the cluster, as my vision is strictly on innovation and improving the education. The latter is extremely important, because by improving the educational act, we can have resources that can help us with fresh and new ideas, vision, passion, that we could use to in research and development. We need them because we want to make better products and to help them grow so that they too can create products, when their time will come.

About mWARE

Having an in-depth knowledge of the customers’ issues, anticipating technological trends and boldly and decidedly assuming innovation represent the foundation of our vision and we approach all projects accordingly. We like to think of ourselves as a small science and research laboratory – very determined and passionate about the Big Data challenges, which we consider essential for society’s and organisations’ thriving and development in the future.

You can find out more about mWARE on their website, Facebook page or LinkedIn profile.

 



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