After earning his Masters Degree at Poznan University of Physical Education, Krzysztof Michniewicz began working in the corporate sector for British American Tobacco and was hired away by tour operator Air Tours Poland Group for his corporate experience. “I didn’t know anything about travel but that started me on the path of incentive travel,” he said.
At 34, he started his own company, ICP Group S.A., in his living room with one other person. Today, the comany employs 50.
“I dare say I am a very lucky man, as my job is my passion. I love traveling, visiting new places and meeting new people, discovering the unknown and exploring “new lands” recharges my internal batteries, fuels me and opens my eyes and mind to fresh ideas. I get revived with exotic views, sounds and flavors of local cuisine. I am really the great fan of being on the move,” he said.
When his company was in its infancy in 2002, he took the first steps to join SITE. “Poland was not even a member of the European Union yet. I was looking for inspiration, guidelines and examples of how to grow my business. Because of my experience with an international corporation I knew that I had to reach other markets. That is how I found SITE. It was a source of my motivation. I drew a lot from it, learned how to approach new challenges, how to look for opportunities and how to boost my business.“
While Krzysztof says he’s never really had a mentor, per se, there have been many people who have inspired him. “During my inentive trips and other travel I frequently meet very ordinary people who are just trying to get through their everyday lives, no matter how difficult. It is very often those people who impact me most. They have a very down-to-earth attitude, basic needs and humble perception of the world.”
One of Krzysztof’s most memorable incentive trips was to Costa Rica because of its CSR element. “Not only did we have a packed agenda, the whole group was invited to plant trees which they liked a lot. We actually won a Crystal Award in 2008 for this program. That also contributes to my great memories of this trip,” he said.
Krzysztof says his job and the company is demanding and his frequent travel takes him away from home a lot. So when he’s home all his free time is dedicated to his family. “I really care about the quality time I spend with them on very simple things—walking and eating delicious meals, for example. My family is my escape from everyday duties and obligations. I value our time together.
“My greatest source of pride, of course, are my daughters, second, is my company. When I started it almost 20 years ago, I did not dare to dream it would survive such a long time and grow so big. We opened up as a team of five people sitting in one room. Now, with almost 50 talented, creative, highly professional people we win the trust of the biggest players in the marketplace. Our hard work is appreciated. Our bold, unconventional, forward-looking projects win international and national awards, not to mention two SITE Crystal Awards and many more.
Krzysztof also likes to escape into music and movies and counts The Godfather one of his favorites. “My absolute favorite movie is 'The Godfather'- directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Winner of three Oscars, five Golden Globes, BAFTA and many others, with the great stars Marlon Brando, Robert De Niro and Al Pacino is, in my opinion, a fabulous story of honor, respect, loyalty towards one’s family and human relations.”
As for music, he likes listening to various types of music, but loves the classics like Edward Grieg’s “Morning Mood” or Claude Debussy’s “Light of the Moon”. But he’s also partial to Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and The Beatles. “Though, if I were to choose one and the only one song, I think I would choose ‘My Way’ by Frank Sinatra.”
If he had the chance to host a dinner party with a few famous people the first person, he said, would be Virgin Group founder Richard Branson. “I would love to hear him talk about his ideas on leadership, his taste for adventure, entrepreneurship and passion for humanitarian work. That would be a really fascinating.” He’d also like to invite U2 frontman Bono. “I think that conversation with him and Branson could open my eyes to new spheres of human life. Both businessmen and philanthropists, I admire them both. I’d also be extremely honored to spend a few minutes with the Dalai Lama. He is a person with such a great personality, a promoter of nonviolence and an indefatigable advocate for the rights of Tibetans. A dinner without a lady around the table is not a dinner. So let’s invite Oprah Winfrey to accompany us. Her life is a great story to base a novel on. How strong she has been to grow from her poor background and become the person she is. I’d also invite Maria Skłodowska-Curie, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the first and only woman to win twice and the only person to win a Nobel Prize in two different sciences. She was also the first woman to become a professor at the University of Paris, and in 1995 became the first woman to be entombed on her own merits in the Panthéon in Paris. Those would be five great companions. What a pity it cannot unfortunately come true.”