As I travelled in the taxi from my City centre hotel to the office in ul Pulawska in the popular business centre in down town Warsaw I was really struck at the speed and the extent of growth, in this energised City. To be honest I have been fortunate enough to witness its growth and development of this thriving capital city, and not just with the architectural landscape This change is deeper and more important than just the physical manifestation, it is more about the growing confidence and capability of the people powering this transformation.
And no where is that more apparent than in the office of HRO/ Verita HR where we are in the process of moving our head office from the 11th floor to a new office, twice the size in square feet than our present location. In addition we are also moving to a new office in Krakow and appointing a new Operations Manager. When I got involved initially back in 2008 we employed 12 people. I have watched the Company and the people mature and gain in confidence and ability. In Poland they talk of the Malo Polak or the White Eagle, It is an important symbol of Poland’s heritage and history.
And the truth is that the Eagle had its wings well and truly clipped for generations after repression and political dogma that was enforced upon it. After accession to the EU in 2004, the Eagle was gradually allowed out of its cage but it had no confidence and was very uncertain of it’s place in both Europe and on the world stage. Well, not anymore, that has changed dramatically and in my opinion positively, although bizarley the political landscape has actually regressed. I was amazed to discover that the political leaders have just imposed a ban on trading on Sundays. This is as much a protest by the elderly and in fairness those who have seen attendance at church on Sundays dissolve as families worshipped at the new cathedrals of shopping malls, Ikea, and KFC.
So, almost unbelievably the law has been changed and now whilst the economy continues to grow at 3% and expansion of trade continues it does so against a backdrop of closing down the economy on Sundays. Looking back I suppose that this is a protest by those who saw the liberal implementation of western values and fashions. Long gone was the fabric of the family and the role of the Catholic church, I had a Polish girlfriend for a number of years, they came from a very small traditional village where life was simple and easy and everyone went to mass on Sunday as they had done for generations. Slowly but surely I witnessed real and significant change as a new generation worked and lived abroad they expected the same freedoms in Poland that they enjoyed in the UK and EU. It was not so much the change from Pope John Paul the second, as the rise of John, Paul, George, and Ringo, the older generation did not like it and they voted for reform, and they certainly have it now.
It will be interesting to see if daily life will continue to change as politics dictate lifestyle choices and limitations, although when I look back on my life and times I can remember a time when every Sunday was a day of rest. No shops, pubs, restaurants and business were allowed to open. Today the power of religion over people has declined dramatically in the UK with more empty churches being turned into pubs, restaurants, and even other places of very different worship. I will as ever continue to watch how this rising nation continues to grow and hope that balance and modernity can live in harmony with old fashioned values and tradition.