Do you remember what you were doing sixteen years ago? Where were you? What was your job and dreams? The heroine of today's conversation, Anna Koszałka, was getting ready for a big professional change. She didn't know what direction her professional life would take, but she definitely knew what direction she wanted to go. Today, at Bertrand, our National Sales Director is a figure who is highly respected. Because we can safely say that she is a classy woman. But our National Sales Director shows real class not only thanks to her beauty, but above all by what she says and how she says it. What a man he is. You must read this conversation.
How did your adventure with Bertrand begin and when exactly?
My adventure with Bertrand began sixteen years ago, in 2007 to be precise. Previously, I had the pleasure of working in the civil service, in the army, where, despite initial resistance to cooperation with the vast majority of men, it turned out to be a bull's-eye, and the initial fears - in my case - were groundless. But after five years, I decided it was time for a change. I like challenges and development, and I felt an inner need to expand my professional horizons. An additional determinant was conflict-free cooperation with the men's group, so I directed my next steps to places where the assumptions could be met. And that's how I ended up at Bertrand - a joinery manufacturer, construction industry, typically male - or so I thought. Something new... I thought this might be the right place for me. And that's how it started. By the way, it turned out that in the initial period I mostly cooperated with women and then I dispelled my belief about the gender of my co-workers... It doesn't matter whether it's a woman or a man, what matters is who is what kind of person and what values they follow in life.
And what are your values?
My primary value is family and everything related to it. Looking through a professional perspective: reliability, loyalty and development. Going a bit further and a bit privately, a certain value for me is also the broadly understood "freedom", often defined by traveling, which I love.
What were your beginnings like in this company? What position did you start with, what did you do and what do you do now?
First of all, sixteen years ago the company was much smaller. Most of the administration had one-person departments. I remember a time when there was a colleague in the sales department who served stationary customers and was also responsible for service. In addition, there were only two people who handled export and another two people operating locally in the field. When I joined the company, I was responsible for a new unit, for facility sales. This is what we call it today, back then it meant preparing cost estimates for tenders or larger offers for developers. The orders were obtained by the Bosses, Mr. Krzysztof Bertrand on the Polish market and Mr. Jacek Bertrand on the German market. To illustrate, over 50 people currently work in administration and sales.
Over the years, the company has evolved and grown tremendously, and I have grown along with the company. Thanks to the introduced innovations, machinery, new technology, but above all thanks to people, we were able to carry out increasingly difficult, complicated and bold projects. The company grew stronger, increasing orders and employing people.
Throughout all these years, my professional career has always been related to sales. First, as a one-person unit as a facility sales specialist, then I was promoted to the position of facility sales manager, where I was responsible for creating the department and selecting people for the team. The following years brought a number of challenges, marking the next stages of development, which led me to the position I am in today, i.e. National Sales Director.
What has this job taught you, or – simply put – what gives you satisfaction in it?
What did she teach me? She taught me that it is people who create an organization. Even the most outstanding individual will not be able to achieve success acting alone. What counts here is teamwork, good organization and, above all, uninterrupted communication.
And of course I have job satisfaction! If I didn't have it, I wouldn't be here for so many years. I like what I do, I like the people I work with, I like the challenges that are still ahead of me. Despite my long experience, I feel that I am constantly developing. I have the opportunity to cooperate with inspiring people, I have a great team of people... The place where I am gives me the opportunity to establish valuable business relationships. I fit perfectly in this industry. Maybe because I love creating something and I am a warrior, I persistently pursue my goal, not forgetting that there are people on the "other side".
What is your recipe for success?
My recipe for success? Values, moral compass and following your beliefs. With all this, I care about people, but without them - without a whole team of wonderful collaborators - I know that I won't be able to accomplish much on my own. I try to maintain healthy relationships, also ensuring the development and satisfaction of the team.
I don't have one proven recipe for success. My children have been playing chess very actively for several years and I always tell them that only hard work, perseverance, passion and dedication will take them to the top.
Why do you think Bertrand products are unique? Is it really a premium brand and if so, why?
Bertrand products are unique because we use the highest quality components in production. We do not believe in shortcuts, which is why our products are not the cheapest. We constantly strive to ensure that our joinery is a symbol of quality. We understand our clients, we know what their expectations are and we try to meet them.
I assume that you have our company's products in your home - if so, which ones?
Of course! All window joinery in my house is S9000 technology, double-sided wood-like color. I have always dreamed of large glazing - even though I was not associated with the company yet - these are the ones I am most satisfied with. A threshold-less HST sliding window, which covers almost the entire wall, opens onto the terrace from the living room. I love them both in summer and winter. In summer, because it provides a nice, open space, and in winter, on sunny days, it lets in a lot of light.
Do you have any favorite projects or projects that you have carried out and that you now look at with pride?
I am proud of each of our projects. I am proud of the people who create them at Bertrand. The more difficult and demanding it is, the greater the satisfaction at the end. Our level of satisfaction is influenced not only by the visual effect, i.e. not only by what you see when you pass by, but also by the complexity of the building. If the building is located on the main trajectory, only we know how much work had to be put into ensuring that the windows meet the designed acoustics. If we have an 18-story building - the windows on the ground floor and the 18th floor seem to look "similar", then only we know how much the joinery differs from each other (depending on the height, we deal with different wind pressure, which affects a different window construction).
Walking past our projects, I can confidently say that I hold my head high and look at our projects with pride.
What do you like to do outside of work? I heard about a certain passion for taking part in running competitions.
I have many passions, but the main ones that I could talk about for hours are trail running such as HuntRun or Runmagedon and TRAVEL. Both give me great drive. Twice a year we take part in obstacle races with the whole family - we started when my youngest son was two years old (he is thirteen today). Back then, he could barely climb a wall or jump over a tire, but he had a lot of fun doing it... and it remains so to this day. Likewise with travel. We won't come back from one yet, and we're already planning another one. We travel by bike, car, camper (we love it!) and by plane, and this year there is a multi-day kayaking trip. It's rare that I don't have some reservations in my wallet. Even yesterday I booked tickets for 2024! I am always prepared for each trip, I have a travel plan, a sightseeing plan... My husband often jokes that I am more organized than a tour guide from a travel agency 😊. If you are going somewhere and have no idea how to spend your time, let me know!