With the aim of combining his professional life with the things he enjoys doing, Oliver Perkins, managing director of Brainovate, wants to grow his company in a sustainable and healthy way.
By Anda Dragan
Expatriate Oliver Perkins came to Romania at the beginning of 2000 with a specific professional goal and ended up staying here, first as an employee and later as an entrepreneur. His experience is a good argument that Romania still affords opportunities to those who can see and capitalize on them. Perkins established Brainovate, a company which offers professional services such as coaching, teambuilding, Strength Deployment Inventory (SDI) and training, in 2007.
But how did he first come into contact with the local market? “I visited Bucharest with the intention of staying a few months and was offered a position at a multinational training company. Ten years later I’m still in Romania,” says the businessman.
Expertise and professional background are two of the most important factors when developing a business. Perkins says that his business story and background is not exactly conventional. “After leaving school, I toured my native Ireland – organizing events, working in advertising and in various sales jobs before returning to education at Durham University,” he remembers. After the completion of his degree, he worked on a kibbutz in Israel and backpacked around the world before setting up an events company and language school in London.
The idea to set up his own business in Romania came naturally to Perkins. “Brainovate came about simply because I felt instinctively I should do it, as is the case with many entrepreneurs,” says Perkins. He was determined to start a business because he was convinced that he could do a better job on his own and have a great time doing it. Building up and maintaining a client base was crucial to his mission. “It also helped that I had built up a customer base who knew me and how I did things, so the transition from multinational to Brainovate was pretty straightforward,” adds the businessman.
While the unique selling point changed, the foundation remained the same. According to the entrepreneur, the company he is running is based upon a simple idea: that of trying to create environments to take businesses to better places and achieve success – in whatever way they define it. “The more I researched it and talked to people, the easier it became to determine what they did to achieve success and how, as a business, I could help others achieve it,” explains Perkins. According to him, contrary to popular belief, successful people aren’t always the most organized, the most intelligent, or the best communicators. But what most of them seem to have in common is the imagination, vision and desire to turn their dreams into reality. “We try to challenge companies by suggesting that it is not their people who are their greatest asset, but rather how these people use their brains and energy to create lasting success,” adds the Irishman.
Recalling the most difficult moment since he started the business, Perkins says that without doubt it was building the company headquarters in Bucharest. “Three collapsed walls and a court case later I finally realized the importance of forward planning and of having a good project manager,” he says. He says that both in his personal and professional life he doesn’t dwell on errors. “If there is something you regret and you can remedy it, then do something about it. If not, forget it and move on,” advises Perkins. Of the challenges that Brainovate faced, he believes that they were clearly part of the day-to-day life of any business. After all, most people realize that such challenges are part and parcel of who we are and help shape our character.
In a market that is quite crowded with players, an entrepreneur has to make the right decisions, move swiftly and avoid making mistakes that damage the business. For Perkins, competition is not something to be afraid of. “It is better to concentrate on what you can influence in your own business rather than wasting time on unimportant stuff. That seems pretty sensible to me.” In the same vein he also quotes Richard Branson, the founder of the Virgin conglomerate, who says that he doesn’t worry about the competition; better that the competition spends their time worrying about him.
Another business philosophy of Perkins’s is to do what you like to do. “Don’t’ waste time doing things you hate. That just about sums up how we do business,” he adds. In the future, the entrepreneur says that he doesn’t intend to build a huge conglomerate for a simple reason: “For me it’s not particularly interesting having huge teams of trainers or consultants wheeling out off-the-shelf programs to thousands of people,” says Perkins. He prefers to keep each business unit very small so that the company can concentrate on quality rather than quantity. “We are opening our Dubai office this month and we have plans for other countries in Eastern Europe and Asia,” says Perkins. As for Romania, he says that most of Brainovate’s focus will be on developing and marketing the Legacy Leadership program as well as the SDI profiling tools to managing directors and senior management teams.