Keeping Our Promises

Cornelius Brody - CEO iQuest

iQuest is currently working with powerful brands such as Roche, Financial Times, Virgin Atlantic Airlines and Puma. It was not always this way and it was not easy to get here either.

In an interview with cariereonline.ro, Cornelius Brody, iQuest founder and CEO, shares a few secrets about successful Romanian entrepreneurship.

He began his carrier as an engineer in a computing centre in Baia Mare, after which he left for Germany in 1988 to work for a company in Bonn. After several years of professional development, during which he was a project manager, department manager, received an MBA and then became a management consultant and country manager, Cornelius had the idea of starting a company in Romania. All of his experience was relevant in order to understand the way things work inside a company, especially regarding the management aspects. There was no need for a special tactic at first. He chose to focus on talent and training the Romanian workforce and people’s enormous desire to cater to Western European clients’ needs. This is how he created a company united by its values and its principles of operation, through the quality of the products and services it offers.

“The fact that I was in Germany at that time is relevant because I spent half my life in Romania and the other half in Germany”, says Cornelius.

Please read below a translated version of the interview:

Cornelius Brody – Offering Software Solutions for Financial Times and Virgin Airlines

iQuest offers software solutions to clients in Germany, Switzerland, England, Sweden and Romania. Solutions are complex systems, customised to fit the client’s needs, which cannot be bought like you would a standard product. Their clients are large and multinational corporations constantly requiring characteristic solutions that can help them stand out. iQuest is currently working for powerful brands such as Financial Times, Virgin Atlantic Airlines and Puma.

Cornelius Brody began his carrier as an engineer in a computing centre in Baia Mare, after which he left for Germany in 1988 to work for a company in Bonn. After several years of professional development, during which he was a project manager, department manager, received an MBA and then became a management consultant and country manager, Cornelius had the idea of starting a company in Romania. All of his experience was relevant in order to understand the way things work inside a company, especially regarding the management aspects. There was no need for a special tactic at first. He chose to focus on talent and training the Romanian workforce and people’s enormous desire to cater to Western European clients’ needs. This is how he created a company united by its values and its principles of operation, through the quality of the products and services it offers.

“The fact that I was in Germany at that time is relevant because I spent half my life in Romania and the other half in Germany”, says Cornelius. He feels at home in both cultures now, which helps him raise the bridges necessary for the business model: understanding and communicating with the client in Western Europe on the one hand and an understanding of the cultural and organization in Romania on the other. Ever since he founded the company 13 years ago, the manager has constantly been travelling between Germany and Romania, spending a week in each country, which makes his friends wonder how he is able to keep up with such a pace.

Business Strategy

During the first 2-3 years Cornelius had to struggle constantly in order to find stable clients. They became more respected over time and clients started looking for what iQuest people call “the outstanding quality of our work”. The situation led to client retention, meaning that clients would maintain their business relationship with iQuest over a long period of time.

Cornelius tells us that “iQuest remains an attractive target for passionate specialists, interested in continuous growth in a high level professional and, I believe, also a human environment. Their products and the way they approach customers brought them clients known around the world. iQuest works with 15-20 large clients, companies such as Roche, Vodafone, Puma, Financial Times, Microsoft or Virgin Atlantic Airlines. “Their businesses are constantly growing and they always have new needs and innovative ideas and they challenge us to work together for the right solutions. Once they started working with us they were pleased with the solutions and services we offer them and they wanted more. They are the ones who basically make us successful”. Once you start working with large clients and you have a retention rate of almost 100% you don’t really need an elaborate sales effort, it comes naturally. You do however need to maintain the organizational culture with elements such as internal procedures or the professional and personal growth of our people. It matters how we function amongst each other, values matter, the way we keep our promises, the way things work once the steps are defined.

Even though we already are a relatively large company, we do not define ourselves as a corporation, but rather an entrepreneurial structure, in which we encourage people who take action and who take responsibility. As a confirmation of our work, one of the software products we have developed received Google’s Android Developer Challenge 2 (or ADC2) award in 2009 for the Trip Journal app in the “Travel” category. iQuest wants to grow together with their clients and at the same time win over more clients with a focus on telecommunications and life sciences.

Finding Yourself

When I asked what he would tell Technical University students during a speech at the beginning of the year, he said that sometimes he actually does speak in front of students. “My experience tells me that the most important thing is that you should find yourself: you need to know exactly what you want from life and your profession, so that you can dedicate yourself. Sadly a lot of young people do not ask themselves this question and spend a large part of their lives doing something they are not passionate about. This is a shame, wasted lives…”

If you have found your calling, dedicate yourself to it. Find a true mentor as soon as possible for your journey.” Cornelius thinks that web entrepreneurship can develop more in Romania, he even says that our specialists are sometimes more creative than the European average. However, in order for our specialists to be discovered, more intense exposure would be necessary, maybe through direct contact with successful entrepreneurs (such as start-up incubators).

The company finished 2011 with a growth of over 40%, after they had initially expected 20-25%. They prefer to be cautious when it comes to predictions and then exceeding them. iQuest has been constantly growing since the beginning, organically by 20-30% each year, which means that it is always looking for talent. This is to be expected for the current year for which they predict a growth of around 20%.

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