It is sometimes worth meeting up with colleagues over a good cup of coffee or tea to talk about something other than business duties. This time we get to know better the partner of the getsix Group, CEO of getsix Warszawa, Mr Ortwin-Uwe Jentsch. What was his start in Poland like and what was he doing before joining getsix? What motivates him to work and finally: what interests does he pursue in his free time?
To start with, although we meet online, the classic question: “What do you prefer: coffee or tea?”
Definitely coffee, and black coffee at that. I drink it in really large quantities – usually espresso. As we speak, my biggest inconvenience stays that our company espresso machine is currently under repair (laughs).
(Laughter) I believe it can be a real nuisance.
Let’s start with where you are from and how long you are now already living in Poland?
I am from Germany. I was born in the small town of Meschede on the river Ruhr, about 40 kilometers from Willingen – the town with the famous ski jump where Adam Malysz, among others, has won. I came over to Poland in 1998, at the age of 37. I was an experienced banker with 15 years of career with Deutsche Bank in Germany. I was asked to head the German desk, that is the part of the organization at Deutsche Bank Polska S.A. in Warsaw that dealt with servicing the bank’s German-speaking customers in Poland. At first, such an offer was a huge challenge for me, but I saw it as an opportunity for development and very quickly found myself in this job. At the time, it seemed like an interesting adventure in a country that, culturally and economically, was absolutely unknown to me. I felt both excitement and anxiety. Today, I know that it was a moment that decided over my further life. Such a turning point or milestone. I treated this delegation as a new experience – a chance to get to know a new country, new customs – in a word, to develop both my business and personal competences. I guess there is something of an explorer in me (laughs). After years of working in Poland, I met Mr Frank. He was looking for someone to run the (then still non-existent) office in Warsaw, and I was looking for new development opportunities – and so since June 2012 I have been a partner in the getsix Group. It’s been a good 10 years now. But the time passes quickly.
Congratulations! It really has been a long time – which means a round anniversary this year.
How did you get to grips with the Polish language after your arrival?
I have to admit that in 1998 I didn’t know a single Polish word. In Germany, I had used and fine-tuned English before coming to Poland, and I based my first months in Poland on that language. But I had a lot of problems communicating in everyday life, for example when shopping or at the post office. This did not give me peace of mind. Taking the easy way out is not in line with my character, so I attended an intensive Polish course for three years. It was not easy for me to master the language. It was one of the biggest challenges in my life, but it paid off, because now I benefit a lot from this skill. I read Polish newspapers every day, and I am able to communicate both in business and private matters fluently in Polish. The fact that I am fluent in English and – since running a Luxembourgish bank in Poland – in French has also helped me to master Polish. Learning another foreign language comes much easier. Knowing four languages is very helpful in business and I am very proud of this ability.
So life in Poland must have become easier since you started communicating in Polish?
Poles are a really open and friendly nation. After 24 years, I feel part of this country. Returning to Germany isn’t rather a question. This feeling is reinforced by the fact that my wife is Polish. It is true that we speak German at home, because my wife is also fluent in German, but we use Polish when we meet friends or family.
What is your job at getsix like? Does it pose a lot of challenges?
One of the responsibilities of a partner is to constantly monitor the needs of our clients. We have to keep our finger on the pulse of the latest legal and accounting developments to make sure their needs are being met. Even the location of the office itself poses challenges. Warsaw is the heart of Poland – home to some of the largest international corporations, which is positive to growth in our industry. However, this is also followed by very high expectations and enormous competition. At least once a year, I meet with the other partners from other cities and we exchange experiences – of course besides the standard, everyday information channels like the telephone and MS Teams (laughs).
As a Partner, I also feel a huge responsibility for my employees. I have to be sensitive to their needs, understand what their work is about and set an example to follow. This is a difficult but rewarding task. It takes years of experience to navigate smoothly. There are days when I have had enough of everything, but I always take a deep breath to gain perspective. I am motivated above all by the people, my team and the contact with them. I try to build a community at getsix Warsaw. We have 22 people in our Warsaw office at the moment. This gives me a sense of fulfilment.
From what I have heard, you are currently the only man in the Warsaw office. How is it working with just women?
Very well! I have always enjoyed working with ladies. I can get along with the opposite sex. We have a great atmosphere – there is friendliness in the office, we organize joint Christmas and Easter parties. The good mood translates into satisfied customers. Both the contact with colleagues and the development of the company are my biggest motivators to keep going. I always put people first.
And the slightly more private side of Mr Ortwin Jentsch… what are your passions, interests?
My wife and I both love to dance! We attend a dance school where we try our hand at various styles. We also do Nordic walking – we often walk with sticks. I also like to read the newspapers in all the languages I speak. This allows me to keep up to date with, among other things, economic and political issues, be they related to Germany, France or United Kingdom. Finally, the last important aspect in my life is travelling. Especially cruises on ships, be it in the Mediterranean or the Baltic Sea. These are very nice cruises – at night we sail, in the morning we arrive in the harbor. There’s new surroundings, evening entertainment. Now through COVID we travel a bit less, but we hope to get back to it soon.
Last question. If you could be someone else for a day, who would you want to be and why?
This is a difficult question. It’s easier to say who I wouldn’t want to be: politician. And what would I like to be? Maybe a pilot for a day. My dad was a glider pilot and he often talked about his impressions over the clouds. I remember it all to this day. My father talked a lot about his flights and exams on different types of gliders. This was incredibly fascinating to me. I admired him and wanted to be like him. I dreamt of experiencing it myself, but I never dared to sit at the controls of a plane. I did go skydiving once (laughs), in tandem rather than alone understood, but that was a real challenge too.