He has a diploma in agriculture and buckled down with a healthy dose of enthusiasm. Milan is looking for a job, to make a living, like most young graduates who, once they have left their “nest”, must learn to make it on their own. We are at the end of the 90s, in a constantly changing Czech Republic, and we are following the story of Milan Zinek, a young man whose line of luck in the palm is strikingly visible with the naked eye.
Although he would not have bet on an IT career, the first company that offered him a job was a fresh player in the value-added distribution market of IT systems and equipment. It was ALEF Distribution, a business to which Milan devoted himself for the next two decades of his life, without one day of boredom or one day without learning something new.
Twenty years later, we introduce ourselves to each other in one of the conference rooms of the Sheraton Hotel in Bucharest. Here, an important event for the company in which Milan Zinek has grown and which he now leads is just under way. The Alef Distribution Group, with over 160 million euros of business a year, present in five European countries, has entered the Romanian market following the takeover of the Likeit Solution.
Who is Milan Zinek
He is 43 years old, loves gardening and walking. He has often come to Bucharest, but only on business. “I would like to visit the mountains of Romania, I have heard extraordinary stories about them”, Milan confesses. The last travel he made was to Jordan, to visit Petra. He considers himself an ordinary person and a day of his life looks as normal as they get. The CEO of Alef Distribution goes to the office, starts the meetings, goes to the gym, reads a lot, and dedicates his weekends to the family, friends and small trips.
What would he tell young people who want to start a business on their own? Not to be afraid, to know their expectations and not to do anything they do not like just for the financial results. “If you work only to make money, it’s better not to do it. It is very important that you like what you do, so that your business does not risk to fail”, explains Milan.
I’ve read a lot of business books, but I really liked Winning by Jack Welch. (Milan Zinek)
About our market where he operates, Milan says that it is similar to the one in the Czech Republic, and the people – quite similar. “I think Romania has a great potential to attract foreign investors”, adds the optimistic CEO of ALEF.
“People want something else from the career they choose every time”, he says. On the one hand, there are those who want stability, and on the other hand those who take risks and assume responsibilities and are therefore seen as leaders. For him, the secret of a successful career has meant a lot of work. “In order to have a high position in a company, there is no miracle involved. You have to be hardworking, loyal and a little smart. If you appear to be a trustworthy person your colleagues and bosses can rely on, you will certainly climb up the scale. This is how easy it gets”, he explains.
Credibility and fairness are, in his opinion, the foundation of a good job. “People will appreciate your work if you show them they can trust you. You only have to think that you are successful and doing everything you can to get it. And you shall”, says Milan.
He has repeatedly heard people saying leaders lack empathy. “To be empathetic is one of the key qualities of a man in a leadership position,” stresses the head of ALEF.
He likes what he does, he is tireless, and constantly thinks about new business growth strategies. On his way to the gym, on the street, at the table, he comes up with pertinent ideas, and the achievements are seen. He simply believes that leadership is a way of life.
“We often recall the wrong decisions we have made over time. If you are in a position to make a decision and you are not sure of yourself, it is best not to postpone it. Make the decision right then, otherwise you will regret“, seems to be Milan Zinek’s advice. And he does not forget to add an argument from his own experience: whenever he postponed a decision, things did not go as he intended.