Published: August 13, 2020
Published: August 13, 2020

Michal Champions Teams, Technology and Transformation

It is time to introduce another of our 2020 Rainmakers, our colleagues who truly embody The PPG Way in everything they do. Michal Galas is PPG EMEA human resources (HR) operations manager of the PeoplePulse Support Center in Brno, Czech Republic. He has recently led a 70-strong team through a major HR transformation.

From a Senior Role to Paternity Leave

Michal had a varied career as a waiter, radio announcer and guide for rock bands who had concerts in Slovakia before his first “real” job as regional manager at Attest. He has since worked his way up through various managerial roles in HR with a focus on Shared Services.

It was while at Lenovo, as their EMEA HR services senior manager, that he took on a completely different role – paternity leave in order to look after his twin sons. He describes this time as “long-term exposure to everything outside of my comfort zone” and a “concentrated set of lessons about myself – my abilities and limits”. But he says that his learnings were applicable to professional life as well.

It helped me to reaffirm my priorities – what really matters and what I can free myself from.

Leading the Way Through Transformation

Michal joined PPG in March 2018 with the goal of steering the local HR department through a radical transformation. The process had three phases, each one brought new challenges to the team, but the transformation’s ultimate success was based on both his careful leadership and great team spirit.

  1. Build the team: Apart from just using internal recruiters, Michal worked with an agency to find the right candidates for the task. Not only should they be highly skilled in both hard and soft skills, but they had to be able to offer multilingual support.

  2. Preparation Phase: Michal and his team had to prepare the entire HR function for a job that hadn’t existed before, following processes not in place before, using tools they hadn’t used before.

  3. Implementation: Once the transformation was live, his team supported managers and employees in successfully adopting the new HR model.

Navigating Unpredictable Roadblocks

Michal is proud to have created and lead the PeoplePulse Support Center in Brno that supports fellow employees in all HR-related matters. He also enjoys introducing innovations and cutting-edge HR technologies to his colleagues.

Watching the impressive professional growth of the people I work with recharges my batteries every day.

As with any major project, there are unpredictable roadblocks along the way. But he attributes the success of the transformation to the empowerment of those around him:

The key is to focus on the people that surround you: untie their hands, give them purpose, motivate them, and get out of their way.

Do Those Extraordinary Things, But Don’t Forget the Ordinary Ones

As a leader, Michal believes in being authentic, respectful and professional, and that you should take feedback as a gift. As he puts it: “Do those extraordinary things, but don’t forget the ordinary ones.”

On being named a PPG Rainmaker for 2020, he reminds us of the importance of the team effort.

The reward is a recognition of the great team I was lucky to lead in times of big transformation.

Taking the Panic out of Pandemic

Michal feels lucky that the pandemic hasn’t affected him in a negative way. He considers it a time when people started building relationships in a more conscious and organized way and would like to continue this approach.

We learned a lot about ourselves, not just as individuals, but as a team.

Michal also benefited from a daily routine and enjoyed spending time with his family. In fact, he found a better work-life balance during the lockdown.

Strong Roots and Feet on the Ground

The work-life balance is an important one to Michal, whose family has a long history of grape-growing and wine-producing. Though he hasn’t chosen to follow this path, he is a bit jealous of the lifestyle and treats it as a hobby.

While it’s hard physical work, you’re connected to the place, the environment, your family. The mission is the product.

He even set up a successful program helping local family-run wineries get online to increase sales. His feet may be deep in the soil, but his head is firmly in Shared Services.

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