Portfolio project

Proofreading and editing for Business Inspirations book

Beata Woźnica

I was born and raised in Pępowo near Gostyń. My father had a construction company there and I remember spending my earliest years playing on the work sites with my brothers and sisters, climbing the scaffoldings and to the top of the sand piles all day long. As it would turn out, construction began to “run in my blood”, to such an extent that it would affect the rest of my life.

While my father ran the construction business, my mother stayed at home and looked after the house and the four children. She never seemed to regret leaving her career, but always told me to be independent, not to be in a rush to start a family of my own, and to concentrate on my education and career. Sometimes she joked that if she’d had a mind of her own when she was younger, then… She never finished her sentence, but I imagined that she probably missed feeling professionally fulfilled as well.

My parents were always supportive of my ventures, even those that seemed crazy to them…When I set up a café, and went to study in Germany, they never said: “What are you doing? This is a big risk, you’ll never pay off the loan!” or “Why do you want to study in a foreign country?” The only time my mother stopped me was when I told her that I wanted to ride horses. In Pępowo there is a large stud farm, and many of my colleagues took horse riding lessons and took part in competitions. This was the one time that my mother firmly said “no” because she was afraid that I might get injured. I love horses; unfortunately, I had to give in and have only ridden a few times, recreationally.

In elementary school, there was no indication that I would one day focus on building homes. I was born in 1975, and when I was in high school, Poland underwent some colossal changes. After the Round Table conference came an economic revolution, a free-market economy, and people started setting up businesses. That is why I chose to attend a Secondary School of Economics in Krotoszyn, with the intention of studying at the Poznań University of Economics. The only difference was that I didn’t attend the day school, but took the correspondence programme due to the fact that I was already running my first company at the time.

The village of Pępowo is famous for its beautiful palace and surrounding park and, as I have mentioned, for its large stud farm. There are annual equestrian competitions, and the village itself is dependent on horse-related tourism and events. Some of the surrounding communities have even opened small stud farms of their own. While I was in school, two women came up with the idea of creating a 120-kilometer horse trail around Pępowo, and my friend and I became absorbed by the idea. The trail was to run through five municipalities – we took over the management of the trail, cleared out the impassable sections, and organized the first horse rally, to which I invited television stations, the local press, and the mayors of those villages through which the route passed. It is a well-known fact that for a project of this size – such as rallies or horse competitions – you need an infrastructure of accommodation, cafés, restaurants, etc. My friend and I established an agritourism company, which ran training sessions for the local farmers on opening accommodation for people traveling to the events. Near the route, I also opened a cafeteria with a billiard room, which operated within the sports and cultural centre.

The business grew slowly, but I lost enthusiasm. It was difficult to shift the farmers’ mind-sets onto new ways; there were further obstacles and, all of a sudden, I wanted to totally change my life and move to another country. At primary school I had studied Russian but, like most pupils, did not like it because it reminded me of communism. In high school, on the other hand, I had studied German and now decided to master it. This is what drove my decision to move to Germany.

Getting admitted to study in Western Europe was not easy at that time, because you had to apply for funding, and fill in various documents and applications. Luckily, I was admitted to a very good university in Karlsruhe – a beautiful village with a great, warm climate, close to France, Italy and Switzerland. The University of Karlsruhe has a rich tradition, and its lecturers and students include numerous famous people, to include Heinrich Hertz – the electromagnetic wave explorer – and the owner of Mercedes. I wanted to study economics. Unfortunately, our Matura exam was not recognized in Germany, so I first had to spend two years in a preparatory college for university. The courses in Karlsruhe were full of scientific subjects, even in the economics department. At the preparatory school, I had to finish a German T-course, in which there were lots of mathematics, computer science, chemistry, physics, electrical engineering, and German, of course.

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