A lifetime of software and seeing the bigger picture

28 Sep 2023

STX Next CEO Ronald Binkofski

Ronald Binkofski discusses his software career with Microsoft, his plans for STX Next and the importance of taking a calm and balanced approach to work.

Ronald Binkofski is the CEO of STX Next, a Polish IT consulting and software company that aims to help businesses on their digital transformation journey.

Binkofski is a relative newcomer to the company, taking the helm at the start of 2023 to push its growth strategy and help the company access new customers and markets. But he is no stranger to the software sector, with decades of experience with tech giants and leading his own businesses.

Before joining STX Next, Binkofski was with the Fortune 100 company Honeywell as the VP for its EMEA operations. He said that – due to the current volatile market – it felt like the right moment for him to join STX Next.

“Leadership is what the best companies need now in order to be the winners of the future,” Binkofski said. “For me, being back in the software industry feels like returning to the mothership in many ways.

“This is where I have always felt at home so it is great to be back, especially with so much innovation happening in the industry.”

From a start-up to Microsoft

Binkofski’s career began with a German company called Software AG, where he worked until 2004 when he decided to run his own company.

He described this work as similar to the role he has with STX Next, though working at a different stage of technology as mainframes, Unix and the importance of the internet were the “hot topics of the time”.

“In many respects, it was similar to what I do today, but within the limits of the technology of the early 2000s,” Binkofski said.

He eventually joined Microsoft, where he would stay for more than 12 years in various management positions, becoming a general manager in 2010.

“Each role I held at Microsoft had different characteristics, but the eight years I spent as a general manager for different markets was what I felt I was born for,” Binkofski said. “Being part of one of the biggest companies in the world and contributing to its business in central and eastern Europe was a great privilege.

“I hope I was able to leave my mark – former colleagues I’ve met after many years have said nice things at least.”

The various positions forced Binkofski to navigate differing cultures, business ecosystems and some “very unpredictable work scenarios”, which he said all helped teach him about risk and avoiding serious problems.

One of the most daunting experiences came when he was asked to take responsibility for the Russian market for Software AG, a move which he described as “a journey to the unknown”. This feeling was repeated when he became the general manager of central Asia for Microsoft, when he moved with his family to Kazakhstan.

“In the end, both experiences were amazing and taught me the most valuable lessons of my life,” Binkofski said.

A focus on AI

The software sector has witnessed a global shake-up recently, particularly with the larger focus on AI. Like many companies, it appears that STX Next aims to focus on this rapidly growing market under Binkofski’s leadership.

“We will look to capitalise on the growth in AI by becoming a leading AI player who not only knows how to embrace it conceptually but can actually deliver on its promises,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for the company and I’m looking forward to seeing what the future holds.”

He spoke positively about the software sector and remains confident that it will be an “engine of growth and innovation” for the future. He also said STX Next has the foundations to be “one of the best players in its industry”.

“The key is to recognise these trends and ensure company strategy is aligned so that we can properly adapt to them,” Binkofski said. said. “Executing this strategy is always the biggest challenge and the real measurement of success.”

The bigger picture

Binkofski has gained a lot of valuable experience over the years and said he strives to “lead by example” in the workplace. He endeavours to help employees express their creativity while ensuring they feel supported during difficult periods.

He said one key piece of advice was given to him when he was travelling in Moscow airport with a “very experienced person”. This individual told Binkofski that – through observation – he could tell that “from doing business you [Binkofski] have no time to do business”.

“He was referring to how my intense focus on certain things was limiting my ability to see the bigger picture and have maximum impact, and he was spot on,” Binkofski said. “From that moment on I took a much calmer and more balanced approach to my work, and it paid off in the long run.”

To that end, despite having knowledge about various software, Binkofski said his greatest work tools are his time management and passion for getting things done, and “all the rest happens on its own”.

Binkofski showcased his focus on time management when he suggested that it is only necessary to read the intros to management books as “the rest of the content is obvious”.

“If I had to recommend one I would always read David and Goliath by Malcolm Gladwell,” he said. “It inspired me to realise how often we are blinded by our circumstances and don’t see the power we have and what we can achieve, even if what we are trying to do seems impossible.”

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic