Series FGSD: A Manager a Week. Today: Martin Bařina

Martin Bařina: Pardubice in my head, Ostrava in my heart

On the sixth floor of the M7 building at Foxconn Global Services Division (FGSD), there is a department almost invisible at first sight. The staff doesn’t spend much time behind their desks. Most of the time they are out across the campus, supervising operations and constantly searching for news ways to increase the company process efficiency. The head of the Quality Assurance team, Martin Bařina, is also rather inconspicuous at first sight. Yet that impression lasts only until he opens his mouth. His combination of swift and straightforward speech, honest eye contact and heartfelt smile instantly reveals his origins: he was born and grew up in Ostrava. Martin is one of the many examples of the rich cultural diversity of the FGSD management, from which FGSD, the biggest supplier of strategic services to technology clients in the EMEA region benefits both at a national and multinational level.

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Martin describes his birth place, Ostrava-Poruba, as “the most beautiful part of Ostrava, built in the socialist realist architectural style.” He grew up in this part of the city, then studied Metallurgy and Material Engineering at the Technical University of Ostrava. From his third year on, Martin focused specifically on Quality Assurance. He started working straight after graduating from the university. “I graduated in June and started working here in Pardubice in August. I really wanted to move from home. I had lived there with the same people around me for a long time, so I naturally started yearning for a change. Foxconn offered me a very good financial opportunity as well as a temporary home so that I’d have time to settle in Pardubice,” recalls Martin of his move from Moravia-Silesia to East Bohemia.

Martin spent his first three years at the Foxconn group fulfilling the role of Quality Assurance Engineer, analyzing data, finding the causes of specific problems and carrying out risk analyses. “I also dealt with clients’ complaints and reports – the ordinary quality assurance routine.” Three years later, he was offered the Quality Supervisor post for a new project within the Foxconn group. “Frankly I was a bit frightened, because this job included managing my own team. But I had never minded working with people, so I decided to give it a shot. If you want to motivate your team properly, you have to be an empathic listener and speak to them without being overly authoritarian,” says Martin about his major career shift. Currently, his team consists of 40 people, which is nearly one tenth of all FGSD’s permanent employees.

Behind quality services there is always a quality approach towards people

Martin considers a natural and humane approach towards staff management to be the key to motivating them. Without a well-motivated team, one simply can’t sustain the quality of company services, he believes. “The simpler, the better: that is my philosophy. I always try to speak with my team the way they are used to talking to each other. Most of my colleagues regard me as one of them because of my career path in Foxconn. That’s why I understand them really well – I used to be one of them, I know their daily routine. It’s about mutual respect: they know I am their boss, and I know they know some things better than me, because they work in the field every day. I also try to provide my staff with the bigger picture so that they can understand our company’s activities as a whole.”

Martin-0349_webFrom manufacturing to services

Martin’s promotion to a managerial post came with a move to a different project. By that time, he had started working for a client specializing in the production of TV and displays. “That was a very good moment for my career. I started to understand Foxconn’s processes and our clients’ needs in a broader perspective,” he says. After a year, Martin moved with this project to Kutná Hora in Central Bohemia, where he was given the position of Quality Assurance Manager. After only four years of service with the Foxconn group, he was already in a managerial role.

Nonetheless, Martin left his job in Kutná Hora of his own accord after a couple of years. “I didn’t want to commute to work anymore because of my family. Fortunately, I heard about the job at FGSD, so I started working here.” Martin moved to FGSD in 2011. He started as a Junior Quality Assurance Manager, having Accessory Kitting as his main area of competence. “I got quite lucky that time. Six months after I started in FGSD, my boss left and he recommended me as his replacement,” Martin recalls. So in 2012, Martin became the Quality Assurance Director at FGSD.

Flexibility and self-judgement are key to sustaining quality

Martin claims that the QA team at FGSD is doing a very good job. To back this up, he adds that the company hasn’t had any major quality issues or received any severe complaints from clients for the last few years. “The credit for this goes also to the FGSD’s experienced engineering staff. We are very happy to have people who can accurately and promptly react to any problem that could emerge. Our employees’ many years of experience are a great advantage,” says Martin.

However, quality of production and quality of services are two different things. “We are providing repair services and reverse logistics here in FGSD. When I started in production, it was completely different. There were far more operational problems connected to assembly lines and, overall, work was more predictable. Here, our challenge is to adapt fast to the repair profile needed by a wide range of specific products,” he says.

According to Martin, FGSD will have to focus mainly on flexibility and a thorough self-assessment of its own capacities. “We have to truly understand what the client needs and wishes for. We can’t act like the customer is always right. It’s important that the client understands what is possible. It’s wrong to promise them everything they want, you should be honest and tell them: We can do these things right now and in a year or two we could go further together. Clients appreciate open and fair communication, especially those who do business in Europe. And if the client is fair as well, he will surely understand that we are just trying to treat him well and make sure that we are indeed able to deliver upon our promises,” Martin says.

Twice as many employees in one year

This year, FGSD is snowed under with a great number of new projects, which led to the rapid growth of Martin’s team. “In January, my department consisted of 20 people. Now it’s double that number. We try to hire experienced people first and let them choose the right colleagues by themselves. It would be great to hire more people from outside the company, but it’s rather difficult to find the employees we seek in the labor market. That’s why we aim to train our own people internally.” Asked what main qualities he expects from new employees, he answers: “When hiring new staff, we are looking for adaptable people. If you are a team player with good communication skills, you’re our man. All the other things we can teach you on the way.”

Head in Pardubice, heart in Ostrava

Although Martin has been living in Pardubice for the past 12 years, his heart still beats for Ostrava. His fast speech and typical phrases remind the listener of Martin’s origins. “They say that people from Ostrava are more solid and earthy because of the tough metallurgic nature of the region. It’s always been difficult to live there. That’s probably the reason why people from Ostrava do not hide anything – they are much more open and more plain-spoken. I guess that it’s a good thing overall; at least people are honest with each other. An environment like that prepares you well for problematic situations at work as well as in your private life. Since I’ve been living here for the past 12 years, I don’t consider myself as a typical man from Ostrava anymore. It’s more like a heart thing for me. I like products from the Ostrava region, local beer and the people. I still have many friends over there and I always feel anxious to return. Today I could say about myself that I am already a Pardubice resident and I feel like one, but my heart is still one born in Ostrava.”