Agnieszka Bobrukiewicz manages three jobs at a time. A director at an oil and gas company, marketing board advisor for an e-mobility business and the founder of Christine Granville watch brand says it’s possible to juggle several careers, if you trust your team and delegate, learn quickly from mistakes and regularly recharge your batteries.
W Insight sat down with Agnieszka Bobrukiewicz to ask about her newly founded brand, coping with the workload and using time alone for your development.
Tell us about the idea behind Christine Granville watches?
Christine Granville was the nickname of Krystyna Skarbek, who was a Polish agent for the British Special Operations Executive (SOE) organization during the Second World War. Some say she was one of Churchill’s favorite spies. First of all, she was ambitious and had a job, which at the time didn’t really “suit” women. Secondly, as I was reading more about Skarbek, she appeared to be this courageous, strong woman with whom I can identify. Even when she was in real trouble, she always found her way out of a difficult situation.
CG is a brand of watches with a strong feminine element. After many years of being a mentor, I decided to implement a long-term project which would motivate and support other women in business around the globe. The idea was to develop the product and donate a percentage from the sales to the Network of Entrepreneurial Women in Poland (edit. Sieć Przedsiębiorczych Kobiet). Time is very important in my life, just as it was important in the life of Krystyna Skarbek. She knew how valuable each minute was, and how one second could change the course of her life and the life of others. This is why I decided to make a product which reminds us how every second or minute can change our lives and not to postpone things which need to be done now “for later”.
Why do you think supporting women in business is crucial?
Women are not as self-confident as men are. Very often we lower our qualifications and we are not willing to take risks.
During my career I’ve met a lot of women working in the same position for years, who are still waiting for changes to come without fighting for themselves. Statistics also prove that we still have more men than women at the board of director level. Which is why I believe it is great to have a mentor with knowledge and experience who can give you business advice, support and help you grow and be successful.
What exactly can we do to help more women show their full potential?
I have worked with a lot of women from different countries. From my experience, first of all, we can help the mentee take a step back and try to understand where the problem is and how they can improve or grow in their business environment. We can also support them to create the development or a career plan. We can share our knowledge and cheer them up or give them some strength if they need it.
It is certainly challenging to start a new business, especially if you have a full-time career as you do. Could you elaborate on what were some of the main challenges you faced starting a new business?
I am the marketing director for an oil and gas company, but also a marketing board advisor in an e-mobility firm. On top of this, I decided to open my own business. And in my free time, I’m a mentor. I am a perfectionist, very demanding and extremely ambitious, so everything has to be done at the highest possible level and this takes time. That’s why one of the biggest challenges for me is time management and finding time for sleep. Another challenge is overcoming my perfectionism. Whilst working on CG watches, I wanted to create the “ideal product.” It goes without saying that I wanted to create a high quality product but at a reasonable price. This was hard, because I’m extremely detail-oriented and very demanding.
Do you think being a perfectionist helps you or makes it more difficult for you to function in the business world?
Several years ago, it was really hard because I wanted to do everything myself to be sure there were no mistakes. I remember thinking: “This is going to kill me one day.” Today, I need to adjust my perfectionist side and let some things go. Conversely, if I were not so demanding, I would never have gotten to where I am right now. But, for sure, it cost me a lot to get this to stage. I think a lot of managers have the same issue.
Luckily, I had a boss who was also my mentor and who encouraged me to start this enterprise. With time I learned to let people make mistakes and delegate work. Consequently, it is easier to develop many more projects in a shorter time. However, I will never stop being a perfectionist and demanding. It is just part of my DNA, which, incidentally, allows me to achieve more than I think I can.
I learned a big lesson from it: I accept my mistakes and I accept that others can make mistakes too, but it was a long process.
When you do too many things, it’s easy to burn out. What advice would you give to people who are struggling with the workload?
Just find the time to enjoy your life. Do what makes you happy. The most important thing is to switch off sometimes, be alone and just relax to get energy for all the new challenges which will inevitably come.
How do you use alone time for your benefit?
I always feel a thirst for knowledge, so I am listening to podcasts, reading a lot of business books or biographies, working out, traveling, cooking for my friends and spending time with my family. Every year I set some new challenges, such as CrossFit. I love this sport because it is hard, you can compete and challenge yourself. Last year I was training six or seven times a week to be able to participate in contests. The most important thing is to set up your goals and never give up. This will teach you to be consistent.
In your profession, it’s crucial to maintain creativity and have fresh ideas. Do these ideas always come easy for you?
The most important factor is to do the job you really love to stimulate your creative energies and motivation. This, in turn, allows you to motivate others, share your energy and you will never lose your passion for work. When I worked at Orlen (edit. Poland-based petrolchemical company), my colleagues used to say that I have hundreds of ideas per minute and I think it is true. I don’t think I will ever lose my creativity.
This interview was conducted by 15-year-old Maja Golebiewska together with W Insight’s founder Joanna Socha, as part of the GirlsFutureReady mentorship program. Maja has been a mentee of Joanna, and participated in the process of producing the interview for this platform.
Edited by: Diana Asatryan, Phyllis Budka
The featured photo credit: Radoslaw NAWROCKI for Christine GRANVILLE
The profile photo provided by Christine Granville