“You literally have to rewrite your job description”

One minute briefing: In hard times, your network becomes more important than ever, says Prezi CEO Peter Arvai.

by Stephen Jones
Last Updated: 01 Jun 2020

Every ambitious business leader will aspire for growth, even at times like this.

But rapid growth comes with its challenges, not just on the structures and internal processes of the business, but on the leader themselves, who may have to adapt their approach on a fundamental level. 

Peter Arvai’s experience is no different. He co-founded the Budapest-based presentation tech startup Prezi in the middle of the 2008 financial crash and spent the first two years forgoing a wage while he and his two co-founders bootstrapped the business. 

It’s paid off - 11 years later the firm has grown to three offices (in Budapest, Riga and San) over 300 staff and 100 million users. Luckily Arvai says he knew just where to turn for help in managing hard times and growing pains. 

“Every six months we would double in size, that was a tremendous challenge. It’s very different leading a team of five to leading a global team of 330. You have to literally rewrite your job description. How did I figure out how to do that? It sounds obvious but I had a trusted group of advisors who I could talk to about things - and who’d been there and there and done it before. 

“I was very fortunate from my college years in Sweden. I had a mentor who was the second most senior person at Modern Times Group - a Swedish media company. She was my first and I was able to bounce ideas around, go to her for advice or support. Over the years that Prezi grew I have had many more people that I have relied on and still rely on as advisors, including Twitter’s Jack Dorsey

“You need to know people with experience of dealing with this kind of thing and build a network that you can tap into to talk about it.”

 

Image credit: Prezi

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