Heroes Work Here: Piotr Augustyniak
07 November 2020
“Today, I specialise in international tax law as well as in private wealth law.”
In your own words, tell us a little bit about yourself
I was born in Warsaw 45 years ago. I studied at Warsaw University, Warsaw School of Economics, Vienna University, Harvard University, New York University, London School of Economics and HEC Paris. Currently I live in Geneva. I am keen on sports, particularly tennis and golf.
What inspires you?
I always look to art and culture for inspiration. Today’s world is very fast, full of data and fake news. For me personally, I find classical opera and ballet balances out a lot of the day-to-day noise. In particular, I am a big fan of Italian opera. Whenever I can be in the opera house, I start dreaming. Surprisingly, there’s a lot of inspiration just waiting to come to you, if you give it a chance.
What pieces of advice would you give your 20-year-old self?
Plan, act, verify, react, be agile and do not give up.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do in your spare time?
I try to play golf once a week, regularly play tennis and do as much outdoor activity as possible (jogging, walking with my dogs). Being in the fresh air helps me refresh my brain…I also like to read books (biographies, historical, economics and politics). During non-COVID times I am a frequent guest at opera houses and philharmonics. I also look for some new interesting pieces of art, particularly paintings to enlarge my private collection. During COVID some online auctions were really tempting!
If you could have dinner with one person (dead or alive) who would it be and why?
Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. She is a witness of our times and for somebody who is a fan of history and politics, this would be a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
What single achievement are you most proud of?
We’ve recently celebrated the 25th anniversary of Awans – which is today the Warsaw office of ZEDRA after it was acquired earlier this year. Awans was a corporate services company which I established as a student. While I’m proud of that achievement, I am still young enough to say that I hope the things I will be most proud of are still to come!
What is the last thing you think about at the end of the day?
I try to reset my mind, so I usually cuddle my two Pomeranian dogs and, consequently focus on them and their toys. Playing with the dogs helps me think about pleasant things. Animals are great companions, and I think everybody should have one!
Do you travel for work? If so, where do you go?
Before COVID I was a holder of a few Gold Frequent Traveller cards…I regularly flew more than 150 times a year to European destinations as well as to Asia and North America. This year I fly less and drive more.
How do you think the industry will change in the next 5 years?
The world is more and more complicated. At the same time though, work has become more automatised. Therefore, I expect that it will be crucial to focus on compliance to protect clients against any regulatory issues. I also believe that the industry will consolidate as costs of IT and compliance will not allow small firms to generate satisfactory margins. At the end of the day, though, the importance of a human touch will remain unchanged. People will need to be highly qualified and skilled to be successful.
What are the responsibilities of your job?
I am the Head of Central Europe at ZEDRA. I take care of clients from the region by coordinating the work of the offices which are engaged in servicing them. Lots of clients are becoming more international, and ZEDRA’s presence in many important jurisdictions is a big advantage. At the same time, it requires action and teamwork from many colleagues. I also work with my Polish clients and support the ZEDRA team in Warsaw.
What jobs and experiences have led you to your present positions?
For many years I worked for big international law firms from the United States. I started as an associate and ended up as a partner specialising in international and domestic tax law. At the same time, I benefited from my dual education (law and business), literacy in accounting and an industrial family legacy business created in Poland after the transformation. The one thing remained unchanged. I was lucky enough to work with fantastic entrepreneurs and family-owned businesses. These led me to my current position as one of the most eminent private wealth lawyers in the region according to international rankings.
What makes ZEDRA unique in the industry?
ZEDRA proposes perfect value to its clients. The philosophy of the firm: “Do More, Achieve More” reflects what clients can expect. Agility, responsiveness and the competence of the team makes ZEDRA a real ‘one-stop shop’ in the corporate services industry. Today clients are very conscious and demanding and we can deliver what they expect.