Divante Winter Summit 2019: Our employees tell their stories

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Until the last moment, almost nobody in the company knew what Divante Winter Summit 2019 would be like, but everyone wanted to attend. Today, no one seems to doubt that this was the best event in the company’s history. 

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Right from the initial concept, Divante Winter Summit was supposed to be something more than a just a company event summing up the year. 

“The idea of making a big Divante Summit event for our clients in Berlin has been on our minds for some time. It would be a one- or two-day event for eCommerce managers from all over Europe. Organizing an event under such circumstances is expensive and resource-intensive. This pushed us to start on a small scale, locally, only for our employees and close partners. We could then develop this vision. It was the beginning of something bigger”

Dawid Pawlicki, Head of Marketing at Divante

It all started with a two-page brief of the Divante Winter Summit which Dawid Pawlicki sent to his colleagues from the HR department and the Divante Management Board. It was quickly given the green light but was clearly a big challenge for the organizers. 

Dawid modestly admitted that the preparations began with an analysis of… mistakes. His team felt like they missed the mark in a couple of previous company events. After analysis, it turned out that special attention must be paid to three factors: preparing the speakers to talk in an engaging way, attractive presentations, and keeping to a strict time. To eliminate potential problems, the organizers took some steps. 

Firstly, a speech specialist was hired who task was to prepare the speakers, giving each a few hours of direct cooperation. Monika Was, Brand Manager at Divante, took care of preparing coherent presentations for speakers. She gave them tips on how to use slides well and provided the speakers with a prompter showing the elapsed time. Each of the speakers prepared a 5-minute speech. In rehearsals, they sometimes ran over but at the event itself, everything went perfectly.

“For the presentations to have a wow factor, they need to be not only refined but also strongly connected with what the speaker says. This is unity. My role was to synchronize the author with the presentation which was later shown on the screen during the event. I had to collate all the information and put it into a simple, yet engaging form. During the event, we were presenting our new branding, so the presentations had to be fully compatible with that too. Everything had to be in tune.”

Monika Wąs, Communication & Brand Manager at Divante
Agata Borek (left) and Monika Wąs (right), photo: KB
Agata Borek (left) and Monika Wąs (right), photo: KB

In theory, it sounds beautiful; in practice, it’s not that simple. For Divante Winter Summit 2019 to be what the organizers planned, a lot of work had to be put in. Many people from the company got involved in the organization. Agata Borek, Event Specialist at Divante, was the main organizer whose work brought the event to life. 

“At first, I was afraid of technical issues. The hotel where the event took place only provided us with some basic sound and lighting systems. I knew that it wouldn’t be enough if the event was to be at a really high level. We quickly concluded that we needed to hire an outside company with the experience to take care of the stage. It was also a big challenge to plan the whole thing and stick to the timeline. During the event, I also made sure that the presentation took place without any incidents or technical problems. It was a very stressful task because the presentations totaled over 100 slides, including films, photos, and GIFs” 

Agata Borek, Event Specialist at Divante

To warm up the atmosphere before the event, a special marketing campaign was also created. This is an interesting case. It was an internal campaign for an internal employee event. Such situations do not happen often but it was a high-level that demanded a different approach.

The aim was to sow seeds of curiosity in people’s minds. Posters with only the name and date of the event were hung around the whole company. Right up to the last minute, employees were asking what it was all about  but even the team leaders didn’t know what was going on. Some of their team members were even involved in the event but were sworn to secrecy about what exactly they were doing.

Dawid Pawlicki, Head of Marketing at Divante, photo: KB
Dawid Pawlicki, Head of Marketing at Divante, photo: KB

In keeping with this secrecy, even the speakers were kept in the shadows until the very last second when they stepped on the stage.

In love with the “can do” attitude

The main idea of Divante Winter Summit 2019 was to present various ideas of company employees. It promotes our “can do” attitude and shows what can be done: showing how people took their vision from the seed of an idea into an actual product. Each of the speakers talked about their projects.

“We learned that there are people in the company who do great things but are not recognizable. This often results from the nature of the projects. This was a clear sign for us. When preparing the Divante Winter Summit, we wanted to celebrate these people, to give them a voice and a clear signal that it is worth trying. There are no stupid ideas but some people hide with their innovative thoughts. They think that if this is not a topic for a big project that will change the company, it is not worth sharing it. In Divante, we encourage people to experiment and develop, even if they are small, internal initiatives such as a room reservation system. We say that it is worth trying and developing. This was the most important point of this event.”  

Alicja Wójtowicz, EB Specialist at Divante

It was a well-thought-out way to inspire employees not to be afraid to go with their initiatives. It signals that if they have ideas, they should share them. They know that they can turn to our CEO, Tomasz Karwatka, and talk to him about it at any time. The speakers at the Divante Winter Summit were a living example of this. 

Divante Winter Summit

The organizers prepared a shortlist of outstanding people who have introduced various solutions or facilities, or developed a product from scratch. They deliberately chose people with great achievements about which they had not had the opportunity to talk.

Divante lacked great presentations of such employee achievements at official meetings in the past. Usually, the CEO spoke, everyone toasted with champagne, and the banquet started. This time, the goal was to show appreciation for employees and the huge impact they can have on the development of the company. Presenters were asked to show their ideas and solutions, but also the difficulties they had to deal with during implementation. During his speech, one person admitted openly to the team that he wanted to get fired in the middle of the project because it was so hard. However, they managed to solve the problems and move forward. It’s a clear sign that in Divante anything is possible. A good example of such an approach is Stanley Świątkiewicz; he got involved in one project and, on a few weeks later, was personally invited by a Korean electronics producer to attend the biggest Samsung conference in the USA. 

Our intensive preparations for the Divante Winter Summit lasted about 2 months, although the place was booked half a year in advance. The whole program was carefully planned to the minute. The official part took 1.5 hours, after which the guests had time to spend together. 

It all started with a speech by Tomasz Karwatka, CEO of Divante. Then the stage was taken over by Wojtek Gajewski, who invited five speakers in turn. Each of them had 5 minutes. 

The speakers entering the stage had a special hoodies with the new Divante logo reflecting in the dark, photo: Sławek Przerwa
The speakers entering the stage had a special hoodies with the new Divante logo reflecting in the dark, photo: Sławek Przerwa

The second part was the Divante Stars Awards ceremony. Twenty-two people got awards for seniority. Five special awards were also handed out: Originator of the Year (Bartosz Picho), The Divante Silver Lips Award (Piotr Karwatka), Divante Ambassador (Filip Rakowski), Sportsperson of the Year (Przemysław Korościk), and Mentor of the Year (Kacper Wierzbicki). Employees were able to submit their candidacies according to these categories and later vote. 

“In our industry, people change employers every 2-3 years, if not more often. If someone stays 5 years or more, it means something. Divante appreciates such loyalty and commitment. An award was given to everyone who, in the last year, exceeded 5 years of service in our company. We also appreciate people who have distinguished themselves by their commitment, ideas or exceptional achievements”  

Aleksandra Kieleczawa, Senior HR Specialist at Divante
Aleksandra Kieleczawa, Senior HR Specialist at Divante, was awarded with the Divante Stars Award. Photo: KB
Aleksandra Kieleczawa, Senior HR Specialist at Divante, was awarded with the Divante Stars Award. Photo: KB

During the Divante Winter Summit 2019, there was also a premiere of a new HR video and an official presentation of the company’s new branding. Both are very important elements of activities in 2020.  

“A lot of people doubted if it would work because we heated the company red-hot”

One of Divante’s experienced associates, who has worked for many companies across Europe, was impressed by the Divante Winter Summit. He made it clear that he had been to numerous internal events, but this is the first meeting of its kind that was so professional. He said this should be an example for companies in Europe. 

In turn, Aleksandra Kielczawa stresses that no one complained about the event. Feedback was positive, which is a great achievement because we all know how infamous internal meetings summing up the year in the company are. They are usually full of boredom, inflated slogans, and pushy self-promotion. In this case, expectations were completely different.  

More than 200 people attended the Divante Winter Summit 2019 in Wrocław, Poland, the company’s hometown. Photo: Sławek Przerwa
More than 200 people attended the Divante Winter Summit 2019 in Wrocław, Poland, the company’s hometown. Photo: Sławek Przerwa

“Many people said that we heated the company red-hot. Expectations were high but we surpassed every one. In 2020, we’re all solidly motivated. Some employees are already gently asking what needs to be done to be able to perform on stage at Divante Winter Summit 2020. This is also a great form of motivation”

Dawid Pawlicki

The key to success was the fact that everyone believed in the concept. Without this, the event would not have been possible. Everybody wanted to do something beyond the limit. Everyone gave something from themselves. Nobody doubted it. And it wasn’t that easy, because the bar was set so high. The result was fantastic.

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Published February 18, 2020