Sylwia Mokrysz is the co-author of marketing policy at Mokate Group. She defines strategy and executes plans of teas expansion – globally and locally. She is involved in activities for women’s entrepreneurship, both in Poland and on the international arena. She has been awarded with the title of Charismatic Woman, “the Polish Ambassador of Women’s Entrepreneurship”, she represented our country in “Women’s Entrepreneurship Day” at the UN headquarters.
Did you inherit charisma after your parents? Or is it a quality you had to work on?
Some of us, women and men, are probably born charismatic. However, I think that like everything in life, this quality requires work to develop it. I am lucky because I have been watching charismatic people since childhood – my parents. Thanks to this I can develop charisma in me, and this involves taking care of many important skills, such as the ability to listen attentively and listening closely to others opinion; being honest and authentic in everything we do; exploring vast layers of empathy and, finally, inspiring people around us. Such a person knows how to and likes helping, builds his or her credibility and respect in others. Charisma is also a reflection of a balanced level of social competences.
You graduated from the University of Economics in Katowice. Why did you chose that university?
When I was thinking about going to university, Mokate was developing dynamically. I was involved in building international relations for the company. I used my knowledge of foreign languages, I was responsible for meetings with important contractors, translating the strategic contracts and documents. In other words, I was needed at that time. But I wanted to raise my qualifications. This is not a secret that an important reason for studying at the University of Economics in Katowice was the fact my parents studied there before. So we may say this was a continuation of the family tradition. Besides, I feel very much attached to this region. I was taught a sort of local patriotism when I was a child. Today it is quite visible – in the activities of Mokate. We feel responsible not only for stable job places, but also for living conditions and education of the Silesia region citizens. We try to support orphanages, hospitals, schools in this region, or publishing office that cultivate traditions and culture of our local motherland, and also to artists and scientists. It is clear that choosing a place for studies was really important to me. Studies at the University of Economics provide a solid foundation in terms of skills necessary to perform tasks in a company, to introduce the marketing strategy and plans of expansion, including creating of a competitive advantage of our products.
What is the most fascinating thing about working for Mokate? What are you most proud of?
In business it is extremely important to define your goals precisely, and naturally reaching them brings the best satisfaction. However, it is not all about the financial result only. To me, a continuous development and self-improvement are significant. Therefore, I always set the bar very high to myself, so that the effort brought the best results possible at a given time. A part of this recipe is also fulfilling my passions through working. This allows me to take new challenges, I get to know wise and inspiring people around the world. When introducing the LOYD brand to the top of tea brands on the market and when developing other new Mokate product lines, I am on an endless journey. When visiting new exotic places in America, Africa and Asia, in search of original flavours and scents, often unknown in Poland, I have a feeling that in some tiny part I contribute to discovering the secrets of the world. This gives me happiness in business and life.
I am really proud, and I always emphasize it, that we are a family company. Similarly to an average family – we share responsibilities and we care about each other. We also transfer this model to relations in the team, regardless of the location of our factories in Ustroń, Żory and Votice. We try to be close to our employees’ matters and together with them solve problems and take new challenges. At Mokate we have definitely more family co-operations. The company with a hundred-year history, has been employing two or sometimes three generations of the same family. Then, the added value are: loyalty, attachment, integrity, atmosphere, those are its most important determinants.
You conduct many activities for education, local community, culture, arts, or sport. Where do you take the ideas from and what are your future plans in this respect?
As I have said before, we feel responsible for conditions of living for people in our region. We support the local communities as much as we can. The company co-operates with universities – the University of Economy in Katowice and Bielska Wyższa Szkoła named after J. Tyszkiewicz – to share its practical experience with students, and also organizes competitions (for example, for the best graduate thesis on management, which may be used later in marketing work at Mokate), it supports various initiatives and gives funds for apprenticeships. Co-operation with the University of Economy consists of, among others, agreeing on subjects of research or writing expert research papers. It has also involved the graduate thesis execution, modernizing the education processes and programs as well as setting the programs of trainings and apprenticeship for students. I pay attention to supporting women’s entrepreneurship, motivating and involving them in building the right approach to running own business. This kind of approach is in our DNA.
The company Mokate has introduced on the market a tea brand – Loyd. Considering globalization, is it still possible to introduce on such a big scale a similarly innovative products, which may become our symbol of culture?
I think that especially in the times of globalization there is space for implementing innovative products. Human imagination and creativity are limitless. The history of tea at Mokate started with accession of Minutka brand. Today it is the most often purchased tea in bags, in the economic sector. The challenge for me was to expand the tea portfolio with other products, which will be accepted on the market and will satisfy the consumers’ taste. This way the brands Loyd and Babcia Jagoda were created.
Challenges are necessary in our daily work, and the bigger they are, the better. It is difficult to face them, but it is worth it, because satisfaction transfers into an even greatest motivation to work. This is a stimuli required on this difficult market, which demands a carefully analysed strategy. We have to balance in it the right proportions between courage and caution. My experience shows this is the only way to be successful in business. I am convinced deeply that Mokate will surprise many times!
As the Charismatic Woman, what do you think about solidarity of women? Does it actually exist? In what situations can we see it?
I think this kind of thinking brings more hurt than help to women. It is a cliché, like the idea of “men’s solidarity”. In my view such “categorising” may hinder communication. I don’t see the reason to follow such splits. It is important we support one another as people. As simple as that … Another issue is the feeling of being united and a similar sensitivity, resulting from being a woman. However, as we are talking about gender solidarity and charisma, looking back at my personal experience and reflection, I would like refer to a certain idea, to give the readers food for thought: The aim of many leaders is to make other people have the best opinion about them. The aim of a great leader is to make people have better opinion about themselves.
Who is a role model for you, who inspires you in your work?
These people are my parents, in the first place. I grew up watching how they were involved in their work, how much heart and energy they put in it. I saw how my mum turned a small family company into a global corporation. Watching then was and still is really inspiring. I admit happily that running a company, the necessary business travel, visiting most remote places in the world, has given me the opportunity to meet many interesting people. One of them is Marissa Mayer, an unusually charismatic CEO of Yahoo.
And you private passions, do you have time for them?
I am really lucky because I can join passion and work. As said before, the continuous journey gives me a great satisfaction. I love taking photos and I try to fill every moment of a journey with beautiful pictures. Recently, I have been also fulfilling one of my great dreams about flying. The flying lessons are really enjoyable.