Meet the CxO – Șerban CONSTANTINESCU, Managing Partner QWERTY Solutions
Serban is a man of few words that likes action more than talking. He doesn’t seem to be the reincarnation of the true leader’s definition either. What he really is good at is to delegate tasks and thus helping his employees develop. Staying at the same U-shaped desk with his team, he is the kind of managing partner that most of the time talks on the phone with clients or potential clients, but is always there if someone needs help. This is how he managed to gather around him people that want to develop and are passionate about that they do. He built a bustling organizational culture around the idea of being yourself. The employees are laughing, slacking, hard and devoted workers, and geeks (that destroyed a printer to take its parts and reassemble it in something else).
Tell us a few words about how your company started.
QWERTY Solutions was born in 2006 based on the idea that outsourcing will become the next big thing in the Romanian IT market. Inside QWERTY we do what we learned – administration of IT infrastructure, design, consultancy, among others. It took us around 5 years to understand the market and see what it needs, thus only in 2011 we started to develop the business lines that we are working on till this day. We walked an extra mile and developed an e-mail marketing platform because we saw what the Romanian market needed it and for which we received great feedback. As we have operational expertise and an ITIL education we started to implement full systems of ITIL management and we have special customers for it.
What drives you each day?
The sheer pleasure of doing something new each day. I know it sounds like a cliché, but it is true. We’re lucky that we managed to enter a market that is challenging. In the same time, we learn new things almost daily. We all know that the IT market’s patron saint is Hermes, but that adds up to something invaluable – experience. Thus, we are constantly improving, coming up with solutions that will benefit our clients and in the same time to our employees.
Which are the 3 main accomplishments that brought you where are today?
There are three that come to mind, in no particular order, as all helped me develop, improve, and made my team to grow.
The first one is the fact that I’ve managed to do what I love and surprisingly I’m very good at (laughs). Becoming an entrepreneur was hard bit. Like many, I started in an apartment and only the fact that I am truly passionate about what I do kept me afloat when things were rough.
The second one is the fact that I successfully earned the trust of the people with whom I worked, clients or employees alike. My clients trust my decisions and they know that all what we do is meant to work without a hitch. If by misfortune there is a hitch, thanks to our monitoring systems, we can spot it making their business to run smoothly 24/7. On the other hand, my team is certain I am always acting for their benefit, even when I’m pushing them, as I’m just trying to get them to become a better programmer. We may argue, but at the end of the day they know I do it for them and for the team. Which, ultimately, is the same thing. Perhaps the fact that I’m a human being and not a boss (laughs) made them stick around for so long. When we have a not-so-busy-day we like to play, taking different hardware apart just to put it back again. Honestly, I believe that this is actually what makes them come here, each morning, with a big smile on their faces – and that is the most important thing for me.
The third and the most important – my family. I have 2 little boys that inherited my love for crafting things. After work or in weekends we spend time together building things. Or crashing them.
Which are the 3 main failures that brought you where are today?
The lack of courage to move faster. I’m the type of person that has to do everything perfect. I hesitated when it was to launch certain IT solutions because I thought they were not good enough and it didn’t seem fair to put them on the market before I was 101% sure satisfied with the result. It drives me nuts when I see similar ideas coming on the market but in a more precarious state than what we’ve thought about. That was the point where I realized the need for feedback.
Do you ever disconnect from the office? How?
Yes, I do. You have to disconnect from your work and routine otherwise you can’t step back in order to observe things from a distance. How do I do it? Weekends are weekends. I am not to be bothered with office problems. I go to the mountains, I walk, I chop woods for winter and in my basement, I have a turning machine. Now I am in the process of building my own 3D printer.
Education – classic or alternative? Both?
I’m an advocate for classic education, with a touch of self-education. The basis to build upon is given by what you’ve learned in school, but the wings are built solely by you. You cannot expect the school to give you anything but the foundation, so you have to put some hard work into it. The most important thing is to start doing this on your initiative.
Now tells us more about the business you are running. Let’s start with the number of clients you currently work on (name them if possible)
What we do is to deliver services – server administration or website, software implementation and more. We have over 30 clients, all happy clients, and you have to understand that for us there is no such a thing as a big or a small client. We see our services as something that has to work, regardless of the size of the contract. Each and every client is important.
Name a few of the projects that made you a force to be reckon on the market.
Not the projects, but the operational services made us famous on the market. The reliability and quality of our services proved to our customers that they can count on what we deliver. ITC has to function smoothly, once it is implemented and it shouldn’t be patched once every week. That’s why most of our turnover is on services, rather than projects.
What project forced you to be creative and innovative (if possible)
Each client is different. Creativity comes when measuring personalized services against controllable and guaranteed quality standards and the solution you put forward is the most beneficial cost vs performance.
10. What makes your company different from others in your field of expertise
QWERTY Solutions offers services that are quality-verifiable. Our clients will never have to worry and you get what you paid for. Regardless if it’s basic or complex, what you’ve asked for or what you needed is delivered to you and it is guaranteed to work.
How are your services innovative?
In our line of work the innovation is to anticipate the needs of the client and to offer him a solution in a certain standard of controllable and measurable quality that you can guarantee. Our services are standard and the way we deliver them it is the same. Our innovation comes by something more basic – proactivity. We are careful when analyzing the needs and the expectations of the customer. Needs and expectations are not necessarily the same. This is where the innovation is born and where we manage to make that big difference even though we are a small company.
What advice do you have for a young entrepreneur?
First of all – do your homework. Study what you want to do and see what is the market for it. Once you know what is your thing, be determined. Don’t give up at the first hurdle and do not listen to each and every opinion preached to you. Always be determined on what you want.
What do you want to accomplish in the next year?
I want to grow my business, there is nothing else (laughs)
What would you like to achieve in the next 5 years?
I want that QWERTY’s achievements to receive the recognition they deserve on the Romanian market.
Why did you join Smart Alliance – Innovation Technology Cluster?
It is an opportunity to grow our businesses together. It is a small cooperative of small companies that have much more to gain together than each one by oneself.
How do you see your company as being part of the cluster?
Until the cluster will have a product of its own, I do not believe that me or my company, or others for that matter, will bring something to the cluster. Until this happens, we are strictly a bunch of managing partners that run a cluster.
How do you see the evolution of the cluster?
I believe it can prove, if it didn’t do it already, that people can work together for a higher purpose.