You can also listen to the interview in the audio version.
The director and co-founder of the technology company Y Soft, Václav Muchna, would like to expand his staff to include refugees from Ukraine. But as he points out, it is very complicated. “Sometimes a database is created, but they are local databases and do not contain the right information. We may have received a file from the employment office, but there is no telephone number. There is a permanent residence address somewhere in Ukraine. You have a school listed there, some basic information, but we don’t even have how to contact the applicants. Unless we write them a letter to Ukraine, “Muchna said in the Agenda program.
Last year, the company’s sales fell to 850,000 and this year a similar result awaits. This is due to the lack of copiers and printers on the market for which Y soft offers software.
More than 300,000 special visas for refugees from Ukraine have already been issued in the Czech Republic – have they found any work in Y soft?
I confess that we are trying to find, but it is difficult for two reasons. Ukrainians often do not speak Czech or English, and in addition, representatives of the professions we are looking for – such as developers and the like – rather stay in Ukraine.
At the same time, it was a big surprise for me to start looking for these highly trained professions at employment offices. This is the last place for companies of our type to look for us.
However, the Ukrainians are registered at labor offices, they have universities listed in the qualification box, and the auxiliary job is kitchen work. This is the situation we are trying to deal with. We are also dealing with other companies, and we lack a central data platform, where we could screen the 300,000 Ukrainians ourselves or in cooperation with the office. I don’t think the authorities or the companies are ready for that. So if you are not looking for someone in production, where it is significantly easier.
Y Soft Corporation
Multinational software and hardware company founded in 2000 and operating in 17 countries. The company’s headquarters are in Brno. It has branches in France, Hungary, Israel, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, the United States, Japan, Singapore, Australia and China.
The company’s main product is the YSoft SafeQ platform, which manages 2D and 3D printing. Allows you to print, copy paper, fax, scan and more.
Contact candidates? Unless a letter to Ukraine
I asked because you say that the Czechia cannot use the potential of refugees…
Sometimes a database is created, but they are local databases and do not contain the right information. We may have received a file from the employment office and there is no telephone number. There is a permanent residence address somewhere in Ukraine. You have a school there, some basic information, but we don’t even have how to contact the applicants. Unless we write a letter to them in Ukraine.
This concerns the whole digitization of the state – this is one of the typical agendas where a digitized state could help a lot.
If this database were to cost, would we make much better use of the potential of the people who come?
Certainly. Of course, there are a lot of things that need to be addressed. GDPR, data protection, you simply cannot pass this data on to hundreds or thousands of companies. I’m not saying it’s easy, but we don’t even have the databases.
Crises in Europe are always protracted
How much has the war in Ukraine affected specifically the Y soft business?
So far, the impact is not great, our company has always been oriented to the West. I think if you know how to do business in the West, why would you do business in Russia. The market is small and very price-oriented. This is not a crucial market for companies with high added value. I think the impact Russia and Ukraine together can be 800 thousand euros a year.
So isn’t this something that would fundamentally affect you?
As the saying goes: Having 800 thousand euros and not having 800 thousand euros is a difference of 1.6 million. I’m certainly not saying it doesn’t have an impact, but it’s nothing existential. What I would rather be afraid of is the impact the situation in Ukraine will have on the global economy.
That’s what I wanted to ask – how will it affect the whole business world? Will Europe lag behind the West?
Even before the Russian crisis, Europe was facing inflationary pressures, potential stagflation, and this will clearly deepen. If we add to that the closed Shanghai and the looming lockdowns all over China, which continues the policy of zero tolerance of the covid, then these problems, when linked together, will still be hot.
It will have a global impact. Every crisis in Europe is long. Europe is not flexible, it cannot react quickly to crises. For example, America will fall very deep in a crisis, but it will rise quickly. On the other hand, Europe may not fall so deep, it may be 20 percent lower than in the US, but Europe will recover for another 3-4 years, and this certainly does not help European competitiveness.
Chips? I will order 30 thousand, after a year I will get 3 thousand
You mentioned lockdowns in China, the energy and material crisis, you already have enough chips?
In any case. The situation is as follows: one large US chip supplier has a delivery time of 56 weeks. Now they were supposed to send us 30,000 chips, but a week before delivery, they called to say they would only deliver 7,000. And 3,000 came. The situation continues. We have production in the Czech Republic. Everyone has always been wondering why we don’t make it in China. But now let’s react flexibly to similar situations. When we have only 3,000 chips, we will rebuild production and produce at least 3,000 pieces of product. In contrast, a factory in China will produce nothing until there is at least 25,000. It’s not worth reconfiguring her.
So how much does your business cost now?
So far, we are able to supply everything due to the fact that demand is generally reduced. Even the fact that we have production in the Czech Republic now brings us new orders – competitors who produce in China are not able to supply. Our business is not because we don’t have chips, but because there is a copier business.
And he stopped the home office?
He first stopped the home office. But then people gradually started to return to the offices, but again, there are no chips for making copiers. So they are not copiers, and since they are not copiers, we have nothing to supply software for.
Turnover will be similar to last year, it will grow next year
So when your turnover fell to 850 million in 2021, what will it look like this year? How to plan and predict?
We can plan well – our fiscal year ends in June, ie in almost a month. We will be around 800 million again, but the forecast for next year already looks like we will return to one billion.
But now again – Shanghai has been closed for a month, so I say to myself: will it really be that way?
How can you expect to return to a billion when the chips are still not?
Predictions are that the situation should stabilize in September. If we look at consumer electronics – graphics cards, Xboxes and the like, it can be seen that the chip situation is much better. And it is expected to start improving in other segments, including the automotive. It won’t be good, but it will start to improve.
The prediction was that the situation in our business would stabilize in September. But a month closed Shanghai… through the Shanghai port flows 30 percent of Chinese goods to Europe. And the number of ships waiting in front of the port has doubled in the last 14 days. This is difficult to predict.
I asked how the war will change the business world, but what kind of society do you expect to change – after the coid came the rise in energy prices, then war, inflation. What will it do to people?
There are two opposing pressures. Europe has moved closer to the US and is much more united. On the other hand, there are negative influences that are likely to lead to an increase in extremization.
The situation in the Czech Republic is positive, but the question is what will happen after four years, when all the negative economic impacts will come, how will it develop further. It is certainly likely that the increase in prices will give ammunition to extreme parties and populists and will depend on how the government communicates.
We no longer have development managers. And we will cancel them elsewhere
Two years ago, you abolished managers and reported a 400 percent increase in productivity. Is the high productivity still holding on and are you behind the decision?
We canceled them in the research and development department. The fact that I am behind this decision is probably best illustrated by the fact that we are now starting to apply it to the sales and support department. And we try to transfer those principles to other departments as well. Definitely great for me.
It doesn’t work to get rid of managers and suddenly increase your productivity. You have to replace their work with other processes.
But don’t you miss the personalities who establish themselves in that managerial position and who will not be there without “frings”?
Many have left, but many “ordinary” people have grown rapidly. It gave a positive impetus to people’s growth. In our country, after we introduced it, fluctuations increased a lot and about 30 percent of people left us. We replaced you.
Of course, control mechanisms are also needed in this system. They’re just built on co-workers and customers, and they’re terribly visible to those people. It’s very easy to go to the boss and say I didn’t make it. But come to a public review in front of customers and partners and say I didn’t make it, maybe two weeks in a row. That’s really hard.
Can you imagine that there will be no boss one day? Neither do you?
Probably not. I can’t even imagine that it could work without a floor beneath me. What we have deleted is basically middle management. What’s more, it all makes sense when you have educated, motivated people who choose what they want to do in life. If you have someone in the factory who works just to support the family, the inner motivation will not work there.
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