The FINANCIAL — Levan Chikvaidze, CEO at Georgian Post talked to The FINANCIAL about the amazing transformation of bankrupted company into modern postal operator.
What was your first day at Georgian Post?
I do remember the first day, when I took the office, it was beginning of November 2012, actually I new were I was going to, it was an abandoned sector, started from yearly 90 s postal business failed in the country, designated operator became too weak to serve the citizens, to follow the international obligations and it’s lasted more than 20 years, ruined infrastructure, no employee motivation, poor salary and no hope for the future.
The first day picture met my expectation. I did not expect much, anyway as a new CEO I had an obligation to give a message that calms the staff, which sets the fashion for working effectively together, and I did it with great enthusiasm, with pleasure.
What were your first impressions?
The heritage received was completely unacceptable for the customers.
I have to say that the former CEO was the guy who provoked the company but the business model they built ruined right at the end of 2012. The government quit indirect financial transfers to designated Postal Operator. With no 14 Million income we had to keep up to 3.000 employees working. According the financial assessments it was the end of the company.
But I am lucky, having had couple of great mentors around, really great people who are dedicated to serve the Georgian public every day.
One of them brilliant person Grigol Matuashvili was the first who joined me on board and we started drawing a road map of the company. It was challenge to make a productive postal operator to serve the citizens and being the part of a global postal chain. We all encourage each other, ok things do happen, let’s take a deep breath and walk this through.
Digging deeper in a theory of postal business, the inner geek in me completely freaked out, I felt tremendous unbounded opportunities in a drastically changing postal business.
We made a lot of tough decisions that were based on a long-term view of what was right for the organization. We used every inch of flexibility we had.
We attracted talented people to join us, the people who believed that in this ever-changing society, the most powerful, sustainable and enduring brands are built from the heart. Their foundations are stronger and long lasting because they are built with the strength of the human spirit not an advertisement campaign.
We needed new procedures, standards, technologies and IT solutions; actually we needed change agents who should build the future. It’s clear that the case is digital transformation, the unprecedented level of digital transformation that our organization has been going through since then.
And it is very important that At the same time we all understand that technology trends and paradigms will come and go, but what will center us, is the sense of purpose and mission, we all believe that the passion fuels desire.
We got talented and motivated people who work in the various business functions – finance, customer service, sales, logistics, quality of service, etc. So the diversity that we have is pretty stunning.
New business model in a fully liberalized business environment must ensure affordable universal postal service throughout the country; all the management actions should lead the company to privatization.
Did you ever doubted prospects of GP as well as your decision to lead Georgian Post?
From the very beginning when I went to the post offices, around the country, it’s hard to explain, you can’t call those concrete spaces offices, no water centers, no computer, electricity problems, poor salary, no staff motivation, beside that two guys from professional union treated me everyday interrupted business processes trying to prove that they were able to get all the employees to strike
When did you feel first success at GP?
It happened in 2015 when the PostEurop made an assessment of company’s operational processes. We all were very proud; later on, in 2016 we participated in an elections in Istanbul 26th UPU congress, 108 member countries voted for Georgia and the country was elected as member of Council of Administration of UPU and by the 96 countries votes in to the Council of Postal Operations. Those feelings were amazing. 2017 year, Georgia is within ten top countries beside the Great Britain at on time delivery rates.
How Georgia may benefit from Georgian Post?
Georgian Post is able to provide universal postal service all around the country with no state budget support. Company gained the trust of partners and citizens. Georgia must be proud having a strong and reliable designated operator and one of the biggest employers.
What is the current state of Georgian post?
Georgian Post has country-wide network for the collection and distribution of mail and other postal items in place, this is The Universal Service Obligation.
Seeking the new areas, through the IT solutions We implemented and developed ad value postal products, like an express mail, e-commerce, new logistic schemes, which gave us possibility to finance Universal Service. Ability to renovate and build new postal offices, to increase the salary.
Attract professional and experienced workers, motivation grow, mission and vision,we are heading towards the privatization.
How do you foresee future of Georgian Post?
Geographical location gives us an opportunity to develop the transit business, in the present year we will start building a new postal exchange center in the capital, IT solutions what we are good at promises us to be the leader in the region.
How post service may transform next decades?
That’s the question, what is the organization going to look like in ten or 20 years? I’ll give you an answer. Diversified businesses, regional logistic schemes, affordable universal service to citizens. Next decade will be the way from government agency to global player.
And in the end, There are more then 7 billion living in this world and we all Postal Operators deliver more then 1 billion customers daily. On behalf of the Georgian Post employees and Georgian customers I am proud to be the part of this impressive numbers, calculated.