The 10th of December was a very special day for us, as we organized our fist ever webinar tackling the theme of freight logistics, on the eve of MMV Rail Romania’s 5th birthday. For this occasion, we have invited a handful of experts who work in the rail logistics, financial consulting, human resources, and marketing industries, to share their thoughts on how to make the best of the current situation and what techniques we can implement in our organizations to create a better year for the European economic environment. Here’s what we learned from each of them in the course of this unique online event:

Kinga Mădărășan: Adapt quickly to the new rules, be more resourceful and innovative!

  • General Director of MMV Rail Romania

The webinar kicked off with an insightful dialogue between the event’s moderator, Alexander Fuhrmann and the host, the General Director of MMV Rail Romania, Kinga Mădărășan. She expressed her gratitude toward her team, who managed to organize such a unique event in such special circumstances and she then thanked all the participants for tuning in from various parts of Central- and Eastern Europe to listen to the webinar.

Ms. Mădărășan showcased the humble beginnings of MMV Rail Romania, which opened its single office in Cluj-Napoca in 2015 with a starting capital of 210.000 euros. Within 5 years’ time, the company has managed to open 3 additional offices, has an impressive rolling stock that includes a brand new LEMA023 and a new Siemens Smartron locomotive and has reached an achieved income of 10.4 million euros.

During her speech, the general director of MMV Rail Romania talked about the challenges she faces on a daily basis, which ranges from finding specialized individuals or personnel that can be taught to drive and run locomotives, to the poor conditions of the Romanian railways. In the COVID-19 era she faced an additional challenge: keeping the team spirit alive during the pandemic. As she put it, team behavior is extremely important, along with finding common solutions to the problems they face collectively. The coronavirus has made the MMV Rail Romania team become more detail-oriented, more flexible and more resourceful. One of the company’s main goals for 2021 is to implement an integrated IT program for the digital tracking of personnel and locomotive/wagon fleet.

Kelényi Zsolt: Complete rail services by Petrolsped Transport, Trade and Services Ltd.

  • General Director of Petrolsped Kft, Hungary

The General Director of Petrolsped Kft was the second speaker as he joined the birthday celebration of MMV Rail Romania all the way from Hungary. He kickstarted his speech with the motto of Petrolsped Kft: In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity, and he expressed his opinion that this slogan is now truer than ever.

Mr. Kelényi talked about the beginnings of MMV Rail Romania, as he presented the idea of opening a Romanian branch, in order to show to their clients that they can offer competitive services in this Eastern European company as well. He gave a nod to Ms. Mădărășan, who has managed to build a rail operator company under very difficult circumstances at the beginning and against all odds.

Mr. Kelényi also accentuated the importance of teamwork and the team spirit, as well as the significance of being strongly committed to new developments and having an open mind when it comes to new challenges. As he put it, work will never be the same again and even if we don’t yet know how things will change exactly, this provides us with the opportunity to reimagine how we run our company and how we can do it better. Now’s the time to cut out unnecessary bureaucracy and ineffective meetings and listen to our employees, of which merely 12% wish to return to full-time office work, whilst 72% would prefer a hybrid model, mixing office days with home office days.

Being present online is extremely important nowadays, similarly to the digitalization of individual companies. He believes rail operators should maximize the potential that IT provides, in order to offer real-time updates of ETAs, locations and staff performances. Mr. Kelényi concluded that the electrical revolution is coming for the rail transport sector, as the EU’s goal for 2040 is to remove all diesel locomotives and focus on electrodiesel locomotives that use electric traction. While this is a much more expensive option and currently uneconomic for a sector that operates on low margins, he believes that by working together, it will be possible to implement such locos for the sake of a better future.

Dan Mureșan: All Aboard! The next stations: Recession. Recovery. Renewal.

  • General Director at MDM Group

Dan Mureșan is an accounting and taxation consultant, so he presented a thorough guide through the Romanian economy’s jungle, as he put it. He reflected on the many ways our lives have been affected by 2020’s unique circumstances. While this year of lockdowns has been governed by fear, lack of governance, submission, weak governance and a medical system that fails to adapt to the threats of globalization, it also brought strong digitalization, strong public financial support, accelerated growth of digital businesses, a transition to green life and decarbonization, along with a brand new era for the labor market. But what comes next?

First stop is the recession.  In the next few months we can expect the undeniable consequences of a year in lockdown, which include famine, global unemployment, bankruptcies, social revolts and the fall of various governments. And whilst the consequences will likely be dire, the station that follows brings a ray of hope and will be characterized by recovery.

At this stage, it will be extremely important to look to both the government and the market and use the pros and cons we’ve experienced during the lockdown period to put a medium and long-term strategy in place that should also be flexible. Create a business strategy for your team and get ready for a new kind of labor mentality that will change the way we work forever.

The third station of the post-COVID era will be renewal. At this stage, we will witness aggressive digitalization, huge investments in public private projects, digitalization, the green deal and the health system, along with aggressive regulation of cryptocurrencies, as well as a huge shift in the labor market, where 4-week workdays will thrive and where work-time and work-place flexibility will take center stage.

What is needed to tackle the next three phases and come out at the other end victorious? 5 main things, according to Mr. Mureșan: creating trusted business networks through cooperation; preparing multiple financial resources; reacting in a flexible and adaptable manner; watching, analyzing and communicating because information means power; and lastly, continuing to create, despite the odds or difficulties the future might bring in our course.

Nicodim Hagău: How to increase employee performance during and after the pandemic?

  • Business Partner at LMI Romania

Mr. Hagău is an HR specialist who, throughout his presentation, emphasized the key role human resources play in the increased performance of any company. According to a study he quoted, merely 14% of employees are fully engaged at their jobs and the reasons for this are quite interesting. According to him, managers and employers should take the time to assess how employees fit into their company, what are their personal objectives and how these can be moulded into high performances at the workplace.

The journey of finding out these details starts with one simple task: understand why they are not performing well. Is it because they don’t know what to do, don’t know how to do it or aren’t actually capable of doing the tasks assigned to them? The next step is to discover what motivates them and recognize that they need strong leaders in which they can believe in and which, in turn, believes in them and their performance. The key to having well-performing employees is to align all the roles of the company with the roles of the individual.

Employers need to ignite passion and integrity and in order for people to follow them, they need to be of service. This way, employees will understand that service creates commitment and stewardship creates loyalty. Culture change starts at the top, so if a leader leads with consistency and accountability, the employees will follow. You have to own the process as a leader, understand the problems and be part of the solution, so your employees can look up to you and so that you can understand your employees better and find good matches that will help your company grow.

Adriana Popescu: Intermodal Serices: Fast, efficient and environmentally friendly

  • Intermodal Transport Director at Yusen Logistics Romania

In her presentation, Adriana Popescu presented the undeniable benefits and the challenges of intermodal transportation systems. But what is intermodal exactly? This efficient means of transportation combines different types of transport options to offer door-to-door delivery. Throughout the process, containers are taken from the shipments arriving to the ports, which are then loaded on trains, taken to a major rail freight station, from where the cargo is loaded onto trucks and taken to the destination warehouse.

Ms. Popescu proclaims that the intermodal market is not very strong or developed yet in Romania, since it’s not at all cheap and the poor infrastructure contributes to slower transit times. Because of the long time locomotives and wagons spend in transit, rail operators still have to pay for the rolling stock, even if it’s standing in one place, which is quite an expensive endeavor

There are currently 7 intermodal terminals in Romania, along with 2 in the port city of Constanța. And while the Black Sea port is connected to Bucharest, Ms. Popescu claims that the main goal is to connect it with Curtici, which can be found on the Hungarian border and which will then open up the possibility of accessing other parts of Europe more easily. But in order for this to be achieved, teamwork and cooperation is required.

In order for Romania to be put on the map of such investments, efficiency and credibility are required. New technologies need to be implemented, for example semitrailers can move a certain amount of cargo from point A to B without any drivers. Decarbonization and going for green options should also be goals that every rail company in Romania aspires to.

Cristian China Birta: Which are the best tools for obtaining benefits from social media?

  • Cofounder and General Director of Kooperativa 2.0

The last speaker of the evening was Cristian China Birta, a marketing specialist who presented a few important tools that can help companies have a better performance on social media. He started by pointing out that in the magical world of social media, anyone can basically say anything about you or your business. And while traditional marketing is great, it isn’t worth much without digital.

As Mr. Birta put it: doing marketing without digital is like taking a shower with your clothes on: you get wet, but you don’t really wash yourself. So an online presence is extremely important and a company website basically serves as an online business card, so it should not be overlooked. Gathering testimonials from clients and business partners is another great way to showcase your expertise and you should never overlook the importance of social media sites either. It is important to do a bit of introspection and discover what exactly you want to achieve with social media and how can it help your business and only then you should choose the platform that best suites your goals and build up your strategy.

According to Mr. Birta, it is also important to recognize how much you know and don’t know about marketing and either hire someone who’s an expert at it or reach out to an individual agency to help you out. While it’s always good to have a strategy in plan, one should also be prepared for rapid changes as the circumstances around us evolve.

LinkedIn is one of the greatest tools for companies and especially B2B businesses. This platform is not as crowded as Facebook or Instagram, so people are still hungry for useful, resourceful and innovative content here. The business-oriented social site gives home to people that are either looking for jobs and career opportunities or are in search of new information professionally, are open to learn more things and feel like they’re part of a more elevated community, where the conversation is about much more than funny memes.

The Stay competitive in the new landscape of freight logistics webinar ended with an in-house wine tasting event, courtesy of Romanian winemakers from Zaig. While in previous years we’ve always managed to meet face-to-face with our partners, we are still very happy that we managed to get together in the online world for a few hours of insightful talks, inspirational dialogues and a small celebration of MMV Rail Romania’s 5-year anniversary.