The International Entrepreneur Podcast

#6 Part 1: Europe with Hanns-Georg Schell and Theo Theodoulou

January 18, 2023 Kreston Global Season 1 Episode 6
#6 Part 1: Europe with Hanns-Georg Schell and Theo Theodoulou
The International Entrepreneur Podcast
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The International Entrepreneur Podcast
#6 Part 1: Europe with Hanns-Georg Schell and Theo Theodoulou
Jan 18, 2023 Season 1 Episode 6
Kreston Global

In our sixth episode, we visit Kreston's European business arm with two brand new guests to share some personal client experience, what it's like to work with interpreneurs, and some insights into what surprised them about the report.  Part 2 coming out next week!

Link to the full Kreston Global report can be found here:

Written, hosted, edited & produced by Infinite Global:

Show Notes Transcript

In our sixth episode, we visit Kreston's European business arm with two brand new guests to share some personal client experience, what it's like to work with interpreneurs, and some insights into what surprised them about the report.  Part 2 coming out next week!

Link to the full Kreston Global report can be found here:

Written, hosted, edited & produced by Infinite Global:

Kreston Ep 6 Part 1

Hannah Robinson: [00:00:00] Hello. And welcome to Kreston Global's, the International Entrepreneur Podcast.

I am Hannah, your host, and we are back from our lovely long break for the holidays with two new incredible guests to continue our discussions around the entrepreneurial mindset. Today we are in Central Europe to get their take on the Kreston Global Entrepreneur report. If you've just joined us as a new listener, I'd recommend listening to episode one, part one for some general housekeeping on how this podcast works.

But in [00:01:00] short, we'll be speaking with our two new guests for two episodes where the discussion will be split over a part one and part two, part two being released next week to keep these sessions easily digestible for busy listen. Just a quick note before we start. Uh, there may be a little distortion on the line this week, so please bear with, but we can guarantee that what our guests have to say today is worth persevering through some less than desirable audio quality patches for.

I'm thrilled to have our episode six entrepreneurs here today representing the European arm of Kreston Global. Would you both like to introduce yourselves to the listen. 

Hanns-Georg Schell: Okay, then I, I start. Hi. Hi everybody. My name is Michelle. I'm, um, managing partner of, of, uh, Kreston Bans, and I'm with Kreston since more than 30 years in the audit profession.

And, uh, actually I'm more working in, in transaction services [00:02:00] and I'm, I'm happy to, to be part of, uh, this podcast. 

Theo Theodoulou: Morning all. I am Theo, theo du. I am the chairman of the Kreston Global Audit Group and also Director of Audit and Assurance of Kreston I a h in Ni Cypress. I deal mainly with the audit and assurance, um, related services, and I'm happy to be part of this podcast.

Hannah Robinson: And why did you choose to get into accountancy, um, particularly consultancy for accountancy? What inspired your career trajectory over the years as an entrepreneur in your own rights? 

Hanns-Georg Schell: Well, for me, that's explained quite simply. My, my father was already a public auditor and I gained my first insights into the profession through.

and I, I found it exciting not only to be able to look behind the scenes of companies and to understand business better. What I also wa, wa was, uh, wished was, uh, to accompany companies and entrepreneurs [00:03:00] as, uh, part of their way and to help guide the development of entrepreneurs and their companies as, as a.

In addition, um, I have always wanted to contribute in the development of the company for which I'm responsible. Um, and that's why I'm, I'm very grateful that I've been on the management board of Kreston Bansak for 12 years and the board of Cresent Global for almost two years. This, uh, this has given me the opportunity and, uh, the confidence to contribute actively in shaping our company as well as network that has been co-founded by our company more than 50 years ago.

And it makes me very happy and proud to be placed in such a position, um, of, of trust, both companies. Thanks. . 

Theo Theodoulou: So how did I get into accountancy? Um, similar to Han, uh, I was influenced by my father my early age. Um, spending my summer, um, break during, [00:04:00] um, when had a holiday break, I would be here at the office, uh, learning the basics of, uh, bookkeeping and accounting.

Um, I was never really forced into the profession. It's something that I, I, I actually liked. Obviously, having my father as a role model, it was easier for me to follow the profess. I then trained, um, with, uh, Mo Stevens in London. I did my charter accountancy and I've joined Kreston I t h. It's been almost 10 years now.

I've been with the, the firm here. Um, again, having the opportunity to get involved into Kreston Global as well as part of the, uh, global audit group is a, is a great opportunity for me. And, um, I find the opportunities given to be very exciting, especially with . 

Hannah Robinson: Now we usually do a brief warmup question just to get you as guests in the flow, as well as allow the listeners a little more insights into you as people.

So if you wouldn't mind humoring us, um, if you could have dinner with anyone in the world, pastor present, who would it [00:05:00] be and why? 

Hanns-Georg Schell: Hmm. Well, I, I can think of many people who fascinated in, in, in, pres me in, in Germany, there's an adjective, um, named, um, male Munich, which is literally translated into English.

Worth to remember. And I have met many people who are worth to remember, many entrepreneurs especially, and any more fascinating people. Unfortunately, I have not seen only read about or. and, uh, well, who I would like to meet is, um, is the soccer coach of Ofe Fryberg, the, the city in where I'm, I'm I'm living.

Um, uh, I, I'm fascinating how he, he, uh, every year he manages to put together a great inspiring soccer team on a small. He trains them and makes them perform at their best. At the moment, they are leading the, the German, um, soccer, [00:06:00] uh, league. And, uh, this art of molding young people into a team, helping them to develop is one reason I would like to meet him.

And in addition, uh, that's, that's much, much more important for me. He, he keeps a very clear view on the really important things in life and repeatedly speaks out on political. And that's why I would gladly get to know this facet better as, as well. So basically, 

Theo Theodoulou: if I could have dinner with anyone, um, in the world, that would be, um,

He's a very, uh, famous Italian chef. Um, other than a comment in my, my passion is, is cooking. Um, the reason why I choose Masimo is because, um, I've seen his, um, commitment to promote his hometown Moderna, uh, local products. And, um, I've seen his story where he began, um, and where he ended up being, uh, obviously, uh, starting from nothing, uh, coming into a, a world, uh, nonself.[00:07:00] 

Uh, and again, the way he promotes his, um, hometown, his, uh, home products. It's, uh, something that fascinates me and, uh, uh, gives me great respect for this person. 

Hannah Robinson: Great. Thanks. I know you're both busy people, so let's get straight into it. What were your thoughts on the entrepreneur report overall? Anything that really stood out, um, and anything in particular that may have kind of surprised you a little bit?

Hanns-Georg Schell: Hmm. Well, um, also, I, I, I've been advising and supporting internationally operating companies for over 30. , I find the results of this study, uh, very, very helpful for, for further, um, advice of, of entrepreneurs, whereas my view was previously very much shaped by the, by the German lens. As I'm, I'm working in Germany and with German entrepreneurs, the, the study expands my view of, of global business to include, in particular the regional economy's [00:08:00] motivation for internationalization.

And it is interesting to note that internationalization always takes place close to the, to the home, home base. I thought that mostly Germans go, go, um, over overseas and, and do business in, in the US or in Asia. But, uh, that internationalization, uh, took place close to, to the, your home country. It was, uh, was, uh, really new for, for, for me.

Theo Theodoulou: So my thoughts on the findings of the white paper. Um, first of all, it's exciting to see how the new generation or the young gen generation is more open to the idea of, uh, entrepreneurship. Uh, obviously it's interesting to see the contrast of, of opinion between different regions, uh, highlighting once again, um, the importance of, uh, diversification and difference in the, in the business cultures.

Um, and, and again, um, it's surprising, I would say, to see that. There's a shift of, uh, interest [00:09:00] from the west to the east and the Middle East, uh, on, uh, doing international business. And what were 

Hannah Robinson: your thoughts on the findings, more specifically in relation to your own region and the countries where you work most?

Any key takeaways you think the listeners should really pay attention to at all? 

Hanns-Georg Schell: Well, related to to, to Germany, I, I was really surprised that that only, um, one fourth of the German companies surveyed are actively, uh, international. Through subsidiaries, I would've expected that there's a larger number for, for Germany as, uh, Germany is Apod Nation and, uh, I thought they're doing the export more through to subsidiaries than to to sales rep president that is who are not part of, of, uh, the group of, of the German mothers.

So that was really, really, um, new for, for. 

Theo Theodoulou: So my thoughts on the findings in relation to the, to my region, uh, being Cypress, part of the Eastern [00:10:00] Europe, Europe and, and the countries we work, uh, most with, uh, I agree with France is it's, it's a surprise to me that, um, I would say I would not split, uh, I would say Europe, um, in, in unity, um, is less active in, in international , it's less active internal business.

Um, one of the reasons I would, um, use is the, Um, following the European Union and the Eurozone, there seems to be a comfort between European countries to do business together, and probably it makes it easier for them to work together rather than going, um, outside their borders. Um, again, the comfort zone, uh, probably the ease of doing business in Europe, but, um, I will give that as a number one factor in, in, in justifying the, the discrepancies identified in the white table.

Hanns-Georg Schell: Yeah. I think they, they do not face the, so, so many cultural differences if they stay within Europe, then, uh, going overseas to, to US or, or Asia. That right. 

Theo Theodoulou: [00:11:00] Europe. That's right. Exactly. I agree with you. It's, it's much easier doing business. You have a, a massive region actually, um, the same, um, rules, the same regulations.

Um, looking at, uh, at it from a European perspective, it, it's much easier. And, and looking at Cyprus, to be honest, uh, this is what we look into when looking for international business. We start with Europe because Europe is whole. and then we, we go abroad. So it's totally understandable. And I, I, I just by the results of these, uh, findings, 

Hannah Robinson: and just to dig a little deeper, did you think there was any big surprises or was it all generally what you'd expect to see for the most part for this kind of research?

Hanns-Georg Schell: Well, um, the big surprise for me was, uh, the findings about China to, to be honest, not the fact that so many companies, 89% are internationally, That's not a really big surprise, but, but the motivation, I thought, and I [00:12:00] expected that the development of sales market. To be more important the for, for Chinese companies.

Uh, the, the, the fact that for Chinese, the development of suppliers is almost as important, um, than the motivation for internalization in other regions was, was a great surprise for me. I thought that sales is more important than, than sup, uh, the, the purchase supply. Um, but uh, yeah, the, the white paper shows a different, uh, So what were the 

Theo Theodoulou: big surprises from the whitepaper?

Um, there were a couple of surprises for me. Uh, firstly the shift of trend. I would say our mindset between the West and the East or Middle East, I would say. Um, I, I think it's, uh, if you were to conduct this survey 15 years ago, I think that the results would have completely the opposite. Um, it's amazing how, um, the, the mindset has shift.

Obviously, [00:13:00] um, happy to see how globalization has had an impact on this and, uh, obviously, um, affecting the, the way that, uh, um, the, the, the, the east is thinking about doing international business. Um, the other thing that was surprised was the, uh, gender, um, apologies, the age gener, the age, uh, uh, gap. And obviously I would expect that more, uh, Um, business people would look into expanding internationally, whereas it, the results show that, um, the younger generation is looking into obviously the entrepreneurship mindset.

Um, and I'm really happy to see that there are no differences in, in, in gender when it comes to doing. 

Hannah Robinson: Briefly. Moving back to a slightly wider view of the research, how has the entrepreneur landscape evolved since you first entered the workplace yourselves? Do you see more entrepreneurs than when you started your career or fewer?

Anything that you think may [00:14:00] have helped people expand globally as independent businesses? Any kind of observations at all on on how the landscape has changed since you both started your own careers? 

Theo Theodoulou: Well, 

Hanns-Georg Schell: I think the, the landscape has changed because, um, the, the Asia and, and far East, um, companies and people are, are more hungry, I would say, than, than, uh, the, the Europeans we have.

Uh, good life standard, let's say. And, uh, we are safe. We could, um, um, uh, buy what, what, whatever we want. Uh, and uh, yeah. And, and in the eastern part, uh, of the, of the world there, there's still. Have to, to, uh, come to a, a reason, a level of, of, uh, worth, uh, which we already, [00:15:00] um, have. And, and I think that's, that's the reason why they're more active.

They're working harder. Um, you know, I remember when I, I started in the profession. It was, uh, was, um, uh, quite common to work on weekends. And do, do the final, uh, do, do the, the finalization of audits, writing the reports on, on weekends or in in night nighttime nowadays, um, no one will be in the office over the weekend.

It's just, uh, from Monday to Friday. And, uh, that's. Why I think we are, we're, we are too, too not, not hungry enough, uh, as they're in the, in the Eastern hemisphere. 

Theo Theodoulou: Um, so what, what basically, uh, justifies the change in, in shift of mindset that we've discussed before? Um, I think I agree with Han is basically the fact that the, the east part of the world is, um, some of the emerging economies.

[00:16:00] They're hungry, I would say, and I agree with that by hands. Actually, uh, succeeding in developing their business. Um, obviously as, as I said, globalization is, uh, has had a huge impact. Um, uh, I think the other thing that's, um, that has obviously, um, motivated this notion is, um, technology as well. The development of technologies is a huge contributor, um, especially assisting, um, eastern, uh, countries, uh, entering into international business and promoting their.


Hannah Robinson: what has been your experience of working with entrepreneurs who may just be starting out on their own global expansion journey? Um, what is the general attitude that you seem to seem to encounter when you're working with these people? Hmm. . 

Hanns-Georg Schell: Um, great question, uh, experience with, with entrepreneurs. Um, well, as I, as I already said, um, entrepreneurs are, are worth to remember in the best sense of, of the world.

Um, [00:17:00] they always. Clear, uh, clear goals and in, in, in mind, and, and they want to realize them, and many of them have, the model can't be done, doesn't exist. And that's a great challenge for especially all for, for consultants. Um, uh, especially if, if entrepreneurs go abroad for the first time and if they leave, then Europe, they ex expect that the, the European way of, of dealing with things, administration, uh, they will find it also if they go overseas.

And, uh, that's where, uh, good, uh, network is worth its weight in gold. And thanks to our colleagues, uh, at, at Kreston Global, we can prepare entrepreneurs for, for local conditions and thus, The surprises are limited and, uh, I think, um, for investments are as successful as they could be, uh, using, uh, our, our network colleagues.

Theo Theodoulou: What has been my [00:18:00] experience, um, with entrepreneurs? Um, it's, uh, fascinating. I would say uhs by default have been entrepreneurs for decades now, actually. Um, due to the small size of our economy, um, we have always been looking for ways to, um, expand internationally and obviously think outside the box. Uh, my day-to.

Um, exposure I have with entrepreneurs um, reflects actually your findings in the white paper and mainly the, the, the mindset you get to see in an entrepreneur. Um, my opinion is that there's, um, at least from the CPR perspective, there's no restriction in age, which is great. Uh, contrary to what the white paper shows, uh, and again, what Han has mentioned this, um, entrepreneurs today, especially the young generation, they do not take no for an answer.

They, they would always. Trying think outside the box. Um, obviously again, technology is a massive factor in, in, in contributing to this mindset. Uh, but I, I believe, um, it's, it's fascinating working with them. And [00:19:00] Ashan said, at Creton Global, we're looking to sh to, uh, reshape the, the mindset of our advisors and making sure that we can accommodate, um, the new mindset of, uh, these entre.


Hannah Robinson: I think we'll leave it there for this week. We've covered loads of great stuff, and I'm sure this is all invaluable to our listening entrepreneurs and anyone who's interested in global business really. As always, there's a link to the research report in the podcast description, and join us again next week to finish the conversation with Han and Theo.

Lots more to come. Until then, have a great week and catch you next time. 

Music: Bye.[00:20:00]