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    Karl Konicz: How TV’s Blackadder Transformed my Career

    Picture of Bill Mair
    Bill Mair 5, July 2023


    How did Karl Konicz progress from rough-sleeping in a London park with only three words of English to become COO of a multi-million pound UK company? And he went on to save Christmas in the UK! He attributes an important part of his success to watching Blackadder on TV.

    The Man

    Karl studied business at Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń before moving to the UK to build his life here. He is now COO of Circle UK Group, a thriving Facilities Management company, based in North London.

    Actually, Facilities Management does not really do justice to the range of services this company provides: from all aspects of security, through aircon and refrigeration, asbestos removal, cleaning, equipment servicing, HR services, training, vetting… and that is really just skimming the surface.

    He speaks English, German, Polish and Russian, has RQF diplomas in the Delivery of Conflict Management Training, in Education & Training as well as Business Management with Accounting. He is a Member of the Security Institute and a Member of the Institute of Directors.

    He lists among his interests Animal Welfare, Children, Disaster and Humanitarian Relief, the Environment and Human Rights.

    Karl Konicz does not laze around.

    PBLINK Stories Karl Konicz

    The “Silly Plan”

    He never really has. Originally, he had a “silly plan” to come to the UK for a couple of months, 18 years ago, do whatever work he could find and make some quick money to take back to Poland. That silly plan turned out to be a life choice.

    He spent many years working in manual labour roles, putting down roots, learning all about British life. His jobs included labouring and carpentry, and he was a doorman for five years in many London nightspots. Everywhere he worked, he resolved to learn something from those he met.

    One day, Karl found himself working in Canary Wharf, in an unskilled capacity. He looked at the whizz kids in their suits and reflected that he and they probably shared a very similar education, but he was being paid for providing manual labour and they were being paid for what they know. What were they doing differently?

    TV Comedy Transformed his Career

    He realised that the only thing separating him from the suits was language skills. Until he was able to communicate effectively he would not be able to change anything. He decided that perfecting his English had to be a priority.

    Karl believes strongly that if you learn the culture and humour of a place, you will learn the language. So it was that he immersed himself in the satirical TV comedy series, Blackadder Goes Forth, and honed his English-language skills by listening to Rowan Atkinson!

    Let Our Customers Be the Star

    We have seen that Circle UK Group provides a wide range of B2B services. Karl generally sums up the services his company provides as

    “The people behind the scenes that nobody sees and nobody knows about. We take care of every logistical detail and risk in the background so the client can get on with being the star of their own show.”


    Saving Christmas

    There is a great example of this philosophy in action. One December a few years ago, Circle UK Group received a call from one of their clients, a major distribution company. There was heavy rain and they had a leaking roof close to electric panels and control boards. They were at risk of losing their logistics and comms systems. If they went down, not only that depot but perhaps their entire interlinked delivery systems across the UK could be disabled. Hundreds of thousands of parcels intended for delivery to residential addresses in the UK and abroad in time for the 25th of that month would not be delivered.

    Literally 60 minutes from receiving the call they had an engineer en route, who quickly identified and fixed the problem.

    The next day, the CEO of the distribution company called Karl from the other side of the world to personally thank him for reacting so quickly, rescuing Christmas and saving the company millions of pounds. All in a day’s work for Circle UK Group!

    Leadership – The Mentoring Programme

    For a few years, Karl’s company has had a mentorship programme in place for young employees. This goes above and beyond a traditional apprenticeship, teaching the valuable life and business skills needed to excel at whatever the participant chooses to do.

    Karl’s latest plan is to team up with PBLINK, the UK Polish business support organisation, to expand that scheme to include young people from outside Circle UK Group. It does not matter what the participant’s goal is, it will teach them how to plan and build a career. If they want to be a bricklayer, it will teach them how to be the best bricklayer in the area, or even the country. If they aspire to management, it will not just tell them that they need to be able to multi-task, but show them how to get there.

    Participants can choose their duration: 3, 6 or 9 months. They will shadow certain trades and positions, but also spend time with programme coaches too, who will teach them how to visualise, how to dream. The coaches will show them that a career is a journey, usually a long one. A crucial skill is not to lose motivation in the face of inevitable failures along the way.

    Young Dreamers

    Following on from this, Karl offers some key advice to offer young people:

    Be brave with your dreams. Employ self-discipline. Take one small step every day towards your goal and you will achieve it.

    Specifically for Polish people, he adds that it is important to come out of your comfort zone and learn from people who are different to you. A mistake he made in the beginning was to confine himself to the Polish community. Diverse perspectives are invaluable.

    To everyone climbing the ladder, he advocates that it is important to remain humble and respectful of others once you achieve your goals. Otherwise, he warns, your success becomes vulnerable.

    The Secret of Business

    What is the secret of business? How could you or I achieve something similar to Karl’s success?

    On this topic, Karl is clear and concise:

    • Motivation to start
    • Discipline to continue
    • A desire for self-improvement, and
    • Surround yourself with people who share your values.

    I can’t help but think that watching Blackadder on TV might help, too!


    Karl Konicz spoke to Bill Mair of for PBLINK Stories.