They say one shouldn't write too long texts on the web because nobody reads them. But how can you fit more than 20 years of professional life into a few sentences or bullets? I'll tell you. Hardly.
Therefore, for you who do not have the time or mood to read further, I have an official CV on LinkedIn. And I would like to invite those, who want to know my professional story from a slightly different perspective, to continue reading.
starting as a technician
beginning of 00'
first team and responsibility
first international experience
mid of 2015
for positive signs
desire to pay back
After finishing high school in 1990, I joined CTU in Prague, as did many others. I chose Environmental Engineering. Honestly, it probably couldn't be otherwise. Both of my parents worked in the industry and my future was clear. At least for that moment.
After the necessary first years of general engineering studies, I began to realize how much I enjoyed the chosen field and what "competitive" advantage I gained having the opportunity to work in a small family design company of my parents. Unlike my classmates, I was honored to work with great - today we would say - mentors. My classmates were starting their careers as juniors and thus they could not get to interesting projects for a long time. That fortunately was not my case. I could grow professionally really fast as it was an interest of my parents to develop me so that I can quickly help them in their business. However, it soon became clear that I enjoyed one thing besides designing. Meeting people, understanding and then solving their problems. Whether training them, giving them advice, or selling a selected products to them. So I decided to leave our family business and try something else.
I was lucky to have joined a company that was and still is the best in their field, so there was still a lot to learn. And I enjoyed it just as much as I shared the acquired knowledge. I was in charge of sales in one third of the Czech Republic, started to work with the main players on the market and slowly started to get our products specified on the biggest projects in Prague and the Czech Republic.
At the beginning of the century, our parent company was aquired by one of the largest engineering companies in the UK. Teams were merged in the Czech Republic and I was given the opportunity to lead my first team of technicians and business developers. Somewhere here I heard about complex sales for the first time.
The idea was so interesting to me that I couldn't get it our of my brain. I became enthusiast defending complex sales approaches, which I often did in the late evening hours in the hotel lobby bars against the "traditionalists" preferring standard sales approach. At the end, I succeeded to convince them and the Czech branch was one of the first to put the system of complex sales and adequate sales team structure into practice. "My" technicians talked to the technicians, the sales reps to sales reps and we actively helped them in the gray zones. At that time, a unique idea quickly showed its benefits. We have become - we have been young enough so we thought so - "famous" and our sales approach has been copied by both direct and indirect competitors.
At the same time, I had the opportunity to pursue my second passion, namely the education of others. Thanks to the technological edge of the company and the hunger of the professional public for new information at the time, it was no problem to organize training or seminars for up to 250 people. It was indeed a great school of presentation skills and stress-management. Fortunately, listeners were often forgiving.
Thanks to the success of the Czech branch (here it is nice to thank all the former colleagues, without whom I would never get such a chance - those I talk about will certainly recognize themselves), I got the chance to "grow" and got in charge of the Caucasus and Central Asian countries of the former USSR. The task was simple: "Train people and help them to start their business." But how to do it? Culture was different, market not existing, climate conditions completely different (which was crucial for our products and systems)…
To be honest, I often must had been seen as an arrogant jerk, not respecting local principles, habits or climate. And so I rightly hammered my nose several times. Luckily, my good new friends, which I got here, brought me back to the ground quickly. So I started from scratch again. And then a few more times whenever I took over a new country or region. Learning to know who plays important role in the "my" territory, what can influence our business, what can be actually offered from the existing product portfolio… The clear essence of the method of complex sales and business development. If you guess that such pioneering work had to amuse me, you are absolutely right. In fact, my passions - the desire to learn, the desire to pass on knowledge and to meet different people, cultures, habits - were properly mixed in it.
Later I was responsible for the whole CEE region (including direct business management in Russia and Kazakhstan) and then for Emerging Markets (Baltic, Poland, Russia & CIS, ME, AsPac, Australia). The larger the region was and the greater the strategic responsibility I had, the less contact with the external customer I managed to have. But I never gave up on it, because only direct contact with the market keeps you in reality. On the contrary, I enjoyed contact with the internal customer more. It was incredibly instructive to meet different people from different continents almost every day, adjusting my behavior, speech, etc. It was a university of life that I would like to repeat at any time again. It taught me that if you have a team of employees scattered over several time zones, you can't achieve anything with direct control. The only option is to show people their way so that they take it as their own, and after a short help they are they are prepared to go on their own.
An overview of what's happening in the markets, especially in Asia, has brought me to another job that I only dreamed of. I got a chance to find acquisition targets that would give our company access to new technologies or products. Previously, I only heard about such positions in Hollywood movies. Now, I was part of the M&A team! To have the opportunity to work with financial specialists, contact the owners of various companies, listen to them, try to understand them, negotiate. Be trained by former MI5 negotiators. It is hard "to stay normal". Hopefully I succeeded and did not change much.
Later, I continued in started job as Director of Strategic Alliances. From the potential "desperate" I returned to business development, as I like the most. Understanding the needs of others, combining them with our own needs and building long-term partnerships - surprisingly - not only at the business level. I still have number of friends form this period too.
It had to come up once, but I didn't admit it for a long time. People have changed around me over the years, and I have not even noticed how much my business has changed due to all the traveling. Change of CEO and change of strategy. Everything was the other way around. And my position has become redundant. After 17 years in one jersey, they called me on my cell phone....
No, I'm not going to criticize corporate life here like many others. The corporation gave me a chance for a career, taught me a lot of things that I would learn elsewhere for a long time, or I wouldn't get even close to them. It was my fault and I should have been more responsive. Today I know that life in a corporation has two sides: "From zero to hero" and "From hero to zero". You just need to read correctly which half-time you are playing in.
I believe that "as you treat live, life treats you". Every cloud has a silver lining. And the end is the beginning of something new. In this case, a unique opportunity in a new jersey with a new global team to build a new B2B sales channel, to develop and to launch innovative products, and to build from scratch educational structure that will consolidate the fragmented activities so far.
The enthusiasm of his colleagues was worth it. It was intense and contagious. A unique divisional board experience. For the first time experience with business in US. And then once….
And then once you do not want to fight with colleagues for resources in the matrix arrangement and the time of your "doted liners". Who passed through the corporation will understand it. I still do not criticize, I still appreciate what corporations have taught me, only my priorities have changed.
I feel more and more it's time to pay back. Participate in what's happening at home. Trying to hand over a little of what I learned "in the world". Spreading the optimism that we are fine and that if we want to be even better, then it is possible but it is hard work too. And I'm not afraid to roll up my sleeves. I will continue to love learning, teaching others and having fun.
Hopefully this chapter will be pretty long ...