- 1 Where do you gain knowledge from?
- 2 What tools and technologies do you use in your daily work? Can you provide examples of specific tools you use?
- 3 What challenges do you often face at work?
- 4 How important is work-life balance to you, and how do you deal with this challenge?
- 5 If you had to name three things you like most about your job at Danone, what would they be?
- 6 Would you recommend working at Danone? What, in your opinion, sets this company apart as an employer and why is it worth considering a career here?
Navigating the role of a Senior Manager isn’t a walk in the park. Beyond a number of challenges to face, it demands a continuous acquisition of new skills. Interested in how things work at Danone? Take a peek into the second part of our interview with Sebastian to find out how he handles challenges and where he gets his knowledge from!
Sebastian Felisiak is a Senior Manager in IT & Data Manufacturing at Danone. In this part, he discusses his methods for acquiring knowledge, the daily challenges he encounters, and what he finds most enjoyable about his role at Danone.
To learn about Sebastian’s journey with Danone and get a glimpse into his responsibilities as a Senior Manager, check out the first part of the interview.
Where do you gain knowledge from?
Despite having many years of experience, I’m aware that I’m not an expert in everything. That’s why I seize every opportunity to learn and gain new skills every day. There are many experienced managers within our organization, some with long Danone history and deep in-house knowledge, while others are newcomers with good practices from other companies.
The new Danone office in Warsaw is a great place to work, meet others, and exchange ideas.
Despite the long commute, I come here with great pleasure and try to spend my time efficiently. Our Village Leaders make it even more attractive by organizing events like breakfasts and townhalls (meetings on current business priorities), which provide eye-opening insights into the organization’s diversity.
What I also find very valuable is the wide range of internal trainings available on our learning platform, especially the extensive course of Proximity Management. It encompasses best practices on strategic thinking, knowledge and continuity management, leadership, and communication habits.
What’s exceptional is the opportunity to go through it together with other Danone managers and share insights on an uninhibited forum.
The learning platform available for all Danoners is a source of hundreds of materials and online and external trainings, allowing us to widen our knowledge on any interesting topic. The most crucial step is admitting that we may not know something and start asking questions.
Sooner or later, we’ll find the answer. With the right justification and ideally linked to our development plan and goals, we can also attend external trainings provided by professional certification units, sponsored by Danone.
What tools and technologies do you use in your daily work? Can you provide examples of specific tools you use?
I’m a bit of a geek and the type of person who enjoys using various digital tools. I believe that technology, when used correctly, can bring about significant improvements and boost performance beyond the limitations of traditional methods. This doesn’t mean I prioritize it over people – no, even with the advancing capabilities of AI and its rapid development, nothing will replace human interaction. However, the right technology stack and a proper set of tools are very helpful in executing daily tasks more effectively.
On a daily basis, we all use collaboration tools such as ServiceNow ITSM, MS Teams, and SharePoint. For project management, a variety of available apps supporting the Agile methodology, including ASANA or Jira.
Since the start of the digitalization movement, numerous office processes have required automation, and technologies like RPA and Low-code/No-code platforms have assisted us in achieving tangible results.
Among others, the main platforms include UiPath, MS Power Automate, and Power Apps. It’s worth mentioning that these tools are available not only for experienced developers but also to all Danone employees through the “MAG – Modern App Garage” portal. Here, anyone can request a license and, with a bit of training, start automating their own processes.
Our main focus is on eliminating boring, repetitive tasks that not only provide no added value but are also highly error-prone due to the extensive data volumes that need to be processed. Simple tasks include copying data from Excel files into SAP transactions, while more complex ones involve integration with external systems via APIs.
What challenges do you often face at work?
I often come across the challenge of balancing urgent business needs and critical situations with complex architecture of systems, where each change may impact processes under responsibility of other domains.
On my very first day on the job, I had to deal with a critical incident raised by the factory where I spent seven years of my career. I only managed to shake hands with the whole team for the first time, and already had to react on phone calls with escalation. Back then, I was so determined to overcome the issue at whatever stake that I missed important steps of aligning with related teams, which may have been impacted.
Fortunately, it all ended up successfully with the resolved problem and no impact or regression on other processes. However, that was the lesson I’ll always remember. Now, I fully understand that you can never assume you know everything and that your idea is the best in every situation. It’s always better to align with potentially impacted parties because even if there’s no eventual influence on them, the information itself can be valuable and can provide significant insights for future cases.
In other words, a statement that may seem obvious but is undoubtedly true: a correct and well-thought-through resolution, applied perhaps even a bit later, is always better than a rushed and misguided one, especially in software development.
Another challenge I often face is related to the level of uncertainty we all experience in our daily lives.
Nowadays, it has become almost impossible to predict how the world will look like in a year or even few months. Within this rapidly changing environment, we must learn the art of fast and efficient adaptation. This is where agility comes into play, and Danone promotes this mindset to be applied not only to projects but also to every other venture we undertake – treating change as a natural part of it, rather than a threat. By shifting our perspective and looking for solutions, we can transform change into an opportunity rather than a risk, occasionally leading to better results than expected.
Our current focus in IT&DATA centers on an agile transformation that is about to introduce a product-centric concept to our organization. We strongly believe that this approach will make us even more efficient by introducing even higher level of flexibility and a sharper focus on customer needs.
How important is work-life balance to you, and how do you deal with this challenge?
I’m a father of two sons, currently involved in renovating a 100-year-old house. I also have a passion for bikepacking and electronic music festivals. All of these activities require a huge amount of time and engagement, and so does the career I’m trying to follow. It is very important not to lose the balance.
Finding pleasure in engaging work:
On one hand, I find pleasure in working on topics that truly interest me. I like the moment when I can fully engage and commit to whatever I’m doing – creating a bubble where nothing distracts me…sometimes for longer than I should. But it’s also beneficial to step back for a moment and stop thinking about emails, tasks, meetings and everything that fills our work hours. With a fresh mind, we’re even more productive and creative. Danone understands this and cares a lot about maintaining a good work-life balance for its employees.
Finding balance in hybrid work mode:
Personally, I highly value the ability to work in a hybrid mode. Working remotely from home allows me to focus on complex tasks, and at the same time, coming to the office helps me maintain good relationships with coworkers. Not to mention, the new office at Bobrowiecka and its design truly encourage us to spend time there in both an effective and pleasant manner.
Embracing workation for a well-rounded life:
Furthermore, the recently launched “Workation” program offers all employees the opportunity to work remotely for an entire month from anywhere in the world. This presents a a great opportunity to combine my passion for travelling with my job responsibilities.
If you had to name three things you like most about your job at Danone, what would they be?
1. Working with a great team and knowledgeable people that I can always rely on. It turns daily challenges into exciting experiences instead of tough struggles.
2. It never gets boring here, with all these changes and new ideas brought to life every day. But at the same time, we have stable jobs and clear goals set by top management.
3. I feel my voice matters. Whenever I see that something requires improvement, I’m able to justify it and implement the change.
Would you recommend working at Danone? What, in your opinion, sets this company apart as an employer and why is it worth considering a career here?
A unique culture, a strong sense of belonging, and numerous opportunities for growth.
It’s an excellent environment to gain valuable experience if you’re just starting your career, and it remains rewarding if you’re seeking challenges.
For professionals, it’s a space where you can be confident that your contributions and ideas will be appreciated and implemented if they’re considered valuable and aligned with the company’s strategy.
Are you curious how Sebastian’s adventure with Danone began and what he does as a Senior Manager? Read the first part of our interview with Sebastian to find out!
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