The Team Player: Antonios Vonofakos
As the Vice President and Managing Director of medical management solutions provider BD Rowa, Antonios Vonofakos believes that empowering staff to make their own decisions is the key to a successful business.
People are at the heart of everything BD Rowa does. From the groundbreaking products and technologies it creates and distributes, to its internal company culture, the focus is always on supporting people, first and foremost.
"We believe that treating our employees well helps to bring the best solutions to market," Vice President and Managing Director Antonios Vonofakos tells The CEO Magazine. "I think it was Richard Branson who said, ‘The way you treat your employees is the way they will treat your customers.’ We very much believe in that.
"It’s a very inclusive culture, with agile teams and decentralized decision-making. The complexity of our business and the global nature of it makes it necessary for teams to feel that they can make decisions and are not afraid of going in the wrong direction or making a mistake."
Fail fast culture
This "fail fast culture" that’s been carefully cultivated encourages staff to talk openly about mistakes in order to make the right corrections, and learn how to do things differently going forward.
"I think that’s what makes us strong, and also will make us strong for the future," Vonofakos says. "Because if you base your culture too much on one strong CEO, it’s not a very sustainable model.
"I could even go further and say, my job and my focus over the past five years or so has been to make myself superfluous. If one day I wake up and I realize I’m not needed anymore, that’s a good day for me."
My job and my focus over the past five years or so has been to make myself superfluous. If one day I wake up and I realize I’m not needed anymore, that’s a good day for me.
Indeed, as a leader, Vonofakos favors an approach that breeds autonomous workers, at the same time as ensuring he is familiar with all elements of the business. "I try to be in touch with all levels and layers of the company," he explains.
"When I started in this job, the first thing I did was to go to an installation. I spent a week in the field installing a robotic unit. I was there with a team of installers doing that for a week. Lifting, screwing, hammering and all that good stuff. I communicate very openly and use many different communication channels."
Based out of Kelberg, Germany, BD Rowa has been supplying the world with dispensing robots, digital solutions and pouch packaging systems for over 25 years now. Currently, there are more than 12,000 dispensing robots across 53 different countries, with the company also holding 80 patents globally.
However, while it is consistently creating the most cutting-edge, innovative and essential products, that’s not to say that marketing and branding are unnecessary. On the contrary, Vonofakos believes that the way BD Rowa markets its products is a key factor in differentiating itself from its competitors.
"If you look at our industry, we are essentially a robotics manufacturer," he says. "So we do lots of heavy metal hardware pieces, motors and moving parts. And if you look at other companies in that category, they usually focus on just, ‘What’s the product? What are the features and the benefits of the product?’
"We have deliberately gone away from that, and have developed a branding that focuses more on the value of the solution. The value it brings to pharmacists, the value it brings to patients, and not so much the detailed features and specs of the product. Innovation for people, not innovation for the sake of innovation. And I think that has also helped us in solidifying our position in the market."
[We] have developed a branding that focuses more on the value of the solution.
From here, the sky is truly the limit for BD Rowa, given the almost endless opportunities in the field of medication management. "I see continued growth for years to come, for the foreseeable future," Vonofakos predicts.
"What excites me is to make our robotic storage solutions even more intuitive and more foolproof. Basically, to offer the iPhone kind of experience – very intuitive, very easy to use – and to make it available to an even broader range of pharmacies, medical clinics and outlets in the world."