‚Sometimes a woman must have more clout’ – an interview with Katarzyna Łebkowska, GERDA Marketing & PR Director
Sometimes a woman must have more clout
An interview with Katarzyna Łebkowska, Marketing & PR Director at GERDA, carried out by the portal pasywny-budynek.pl.
Katarzyna Łebkowska lays great emphasis on inbound marketing in her activities, yet not forgetting about traditional methods. In several years from now, she sees GERDA as retaining its leading position in its sector. Asked if the gender matters at work, she replies that what matters is a person and his or her creativity.
To begin with, could tell us something about the professional roads that have led you to the business itself and to GERDA?
I have been in the construction business for 18 years now. My first work, at Reynaers, involved aluminum systems. Then I worked at Rockwool. For two years I have been employed with GERDA. As for the business… I am a marketing specialist. At this job, some procedures and principles of operation are similar. The only issue remaining is to get to know a product well and use adequate marketing tools.
What is it like to work in the sector which may be considered a little bit ‚masculine’?
It’s really being less and less discernible now. There are more and more women working in trade, sales and design departments, although, admittedly, one can see that men predominate in the sector. But I have a general reflection on the matter. It’s not the gender, but creativity, a way of resolving problems – a person, that matters. On the other hand, I have an impression that making it to the top in the strictly masculine business itself can be pretty hard for women; sometimes a woman must have more clout and work harder to prove she’s better.
Are there many women employees in your company?
Quite a lot, and I must admit they’re not only in the PR or marketing department, but in production and in the warehouse as well. They certainly are noticeable, anyway.
Is the broadly defined construction business itself becoming increasingly feminized too? How does it show at fairs and sectoral events?
We are making it. As I mentioned, the business is masculine, but we, women, are growing in numbers. Also, there are more and more ladies at managerial level.
How do you manage to reconcile your personal life with your work in a responsible position at the company as large as GERDA?
It’s by far better now, as my working hours are more flexible and I can plan out a lot of things, like participating in and developing various strategic projects. Work in marketing and PR is mainly task-oriented, one can divide one’s time, though time is something I, as a very active person, am always short of. Many thing are done remotely today, but one should be very careful not to take too much of one’s ‚job’ home. As a matter of fact, research shows that work of around twelve or more hours is ineffective and not very creative. Getting back to your question, I myself have no problem combining my private life with my professional career.
What have you managed to achieve in the two years with GERDA, and what’s the specificity of PR and marketing activities for a company like this?
I won’t reinvent the wheel if I say that now we lay great emphasis on inbound marketing. We’ve been successfully and successively implementing and applying all the modern digital and virtual solutions. We are trying to build our position on social and construction networking sites. There is a current trend in marketing that can be defined as B2B2C, that is, in a nutshell, we target our offer, thinking about both an end customer and a partner or distributor.
You have also launched the project “GERDA Academy”. What is it?
It’s the action which allows us to train and certify a group of assemblers; we want both customers and firms installing our products to realize even better that quality is not only about a product, but also its right installation and customer support.
How do the omnipresent social media affect PR and marketing activities today?
Very strongly. Currently it’s hard to imagine modern PR and marketing without activities in these fields.
So GERDA wishes to be a very strong brand to younger generations too? And making use of social media seems to be a step in the right direction?
It definitely is. Though our company has been known for generations, we get through to the young exactly via Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. We use these media to raise young people’s product awareness, to make them aware of our product’s advantages. A new element in our activities will also be making extensive use of animation, but this involves our plans for the near future.
So you’re moving the center of gravity in your operations on to the cutting edge ‚media’?
A bit like this, but absolutely without forgetting about the traditional ones; there still are a lot of people who read trade magazines. Furthermore, we don’t forget to carry on educational activities. Also, we cooperate very closely with our contractors – they can always count on our support.
How do you envisage the growth of GERDA? Will the company succeed in remaining the leader in its segment?
Well, the leader never has it easy, it’s much simpler to attack.
Retaining our position is certainly much more expensive, we must keep up our guard, carefully watching our competitors, trying to equal and outstrip them. We must be the first in the market to launch new products, new and innovative technologies, to set new quality standards.
How does Gerda stand out from the competitors?
We combine thirty years’ experience with modernity. The older generation remembers us and conveys the information about us to the young, who can also find us in the cutting edge media, e.g. on social networking sites. The younger generation is becoming increasingly discriminating and aware, and yet they too still opt for GERDA.
Are there any differences between marketing operations in Poland and abroad?
Each market has its own mentality, rights and requirements, all of which must be given consideration in our activities. It’s not that what is selling well in Germany is selling just as well in Italy. Each country is influenced by its specific factors. We are not alone, operating in those markets, as we use our foreign partners’ help.
Where do you see your company a few years from now, what are your plans and concepts for its development?
We intend to continue to be the leader in security and anti-burglary systems. We have good arguments to back up this intention, i.e. modern and safe solutions. In addition, we’ll be extending our offer, quickly responding to customer needs.
You are on the POiD management board, too, what are your duties in that capacity?
I represent the company GERDA on the POiD board. POiD is the organization which represents manufacturers and contractors in the construction joinery trade. We represent the trade before the government departments and institutions. We take various initiatives, e.g. “DOBRY MONTAŻ” – the social campaign, resulting in, among other things, the creation of classes specializing in joinery installation in vocational schools; also, on the initiative of POiD, being consistently implemented, the thermomodernization tax relief is going to be introduced by 2019.
And what are your hobbies, interests?
In my leisure time I do sports, read books, and relax by practicing t’ai chi.
Thank you for speaking with us.
I thank you, too.
Interview carried out by pasywny-budynek.pl.