Formerly the Vice President of Polkomtel and PGE, Bogusława Matuszewska abandoned the corporate rat race to launch Totomato, a catch-all operation for all things healthy: a restaurant, store and workshop…
WI: How has the role of women changed in Polish society since you started out in business?
BM: Women are more educated now, they have higher expectations and more ambition to realize their dreams. Poland’s changed a lot in the last 25 years, but it’s important to remember that even under the previous system most women had to work as well so as to provide their family with a certain style of living – so to a lesser degree women did have the chance to realize themselves.
What challenges did you face as a woman?
I studied electronics so from the beginning I was in a very unique situation: in class there were three women and three hundred men! The biggest challenge I found was to be treated seriously, but as soon as I proved that I was on the same mental footing then all boundaries disappeared. In terms of my career, not once have I been made to feel uncomfortable; I’ve never thought of myself as ‘the woman in the workplace’.
Is there a difference between men and women when it comes to leadership?
Everyone has a different style of leadership, no two people are alike. I have a coach’s certificate in emotional intelligence, and I’d say if there was a difference between men and women then the difference is found there. Women are more likely to show their emotions, but providing they can manage those efficiently then that can be ultimately beneficial: emotions drive actions and help in problem solving.
Looking back on your career, is there anything you’d do differently?
Not at all. I believe the person I am now is a direct result of the decisions I’ve made – and that includes the mistakes I’ve made along the way.
You’ve held some top corporate posts in the past – what made you leave those behind and launch Totomato?
In the past I was always responsible for sales and transformation and building the optimization process. It seemed that the last few years had been spent cutting things: costs, people, etc. It was always about looking to make things ‘faster, cheaper, better’. Finally I asked myself, what’s more important in life? I’d had enough of cutting, I wanted to create something.
What’s the philosophy behind it?
This isn’t just a health shop, it’s a lifestyle. I want people to stop and think a little about themselves, to meditate a little. With Totomato I want people to realize that everything has meaning, that we live to realize ourselves – that’s the whole concept.
What qualities have helped you achieve what you have?
Having a deep and true engagement with what I do. It’s important to remember that you are not playing a game, you have to stay true to your values.
ul. Piękna 28/34
(near Plac Konstytucji)