Jakub Rod has been working at Rockaway as an M&A lawyer for over six years, and even though it’s sometimes hard for him to find time for anything “extra” in his busy schedule, you’ll always see him with a nice smile on his face. He’s got the reputation of a laid-back guy who balances work stress with longboarding, for example, but above all by spending time with his family. And if you’re interested in what took place behind the scenes during the recent sale of the Mall Group, Jakub was one of those who played an important role during key negotiations.
What do you do so your responsibilities at work don’t drive you crazy?
I try to balance things out mainly with active sports, ideally ones involving adrenaline – one of my favourites is downhill longboarding. And last year got my paragliding licence. But responsibility as such isn’t a problem for me, I take it as a challenge, part and parcel of my work. And work can sometimes elicit stress, of course, which it why it’s important to stay cool, so that various decisions aren’t then made chaotically.
To a certain degree I’m also trying to develop various alternative methods like meditation or conscious breathing, which definitely have an impact on daily life and work, as they help you keep things in balance. It’s this yin and yang: maintaining internal calm and then using energy to improve your performance, be it at work or during longboard racing, for example.
Which M&A transaction is most memorable for you?
There have been many such moments, small and large, but I guess my first transaction, when I joined Rockaway in 2016. At that time the purchase of MALL was underway and right after that we started negotiating a joint venture with EPH and PPF. This meant I got up to speed quickly at Rockaway: I quickly got to know not only our partners and their negotiating style, but also the Rockaway team, especially Robert Chmelař (note: one of Rockaway’s investment partners), who managed the entire transaction. The negotiations involving the whole deal were quite intensive. This transaction has stayed with me my whole time at Rockaway: we often look back at it and we’ve used it to create a sort of “Bible” or rather a manual of relationships and negotiation we’ve used for the past six years. And, as I’m sure you already know, last week we finalized a very successful exit from MALL I’m honoured to have been a part of it all.
What skills are you working on because they seem important for the future?
For me, it’s important to pay attention to details while not losing sight of the big picture for a given deal or Rockaway’s broader strategy. At the same time, the arsenal of every M&A lawyer should include the ability to negotiate, listen, and quickly process information form the other party. This has several overlapping levels. At the start of the investment, we usually have some sort of vision, goal, or position we want to achieve. Part of my work is implementing the given structure into the contractual documents and incorporating our rights and position. When drafting and negotiating documentation, attention to detail is very important. When several deals are on the go simultaneously, you’re under pressure and looking at dozens of interlinked documents and hundreds of pages, where even one wrong word can have an impact on the investor’s position. Maintaining focus, awareness of context, and following the negotiating strategy in these situations is a challenge that I enjoy. I’m consciously trying to move forward and get even better in these areas.
What’s the best investment you ever made?
When I was growing up in Australia, one of my best investments was into education. Macquarie University had a popular bar where I spent more time than in class, but aside from those “bar studies” I quite liked studying law and it opened up the world to me. It’s also one of the reasons why I ended up at Rockaway.
Currently, my most important investment is in my family and the time I spend with them. It’s also my most difficult investment, one that I have to fight for; combining family, work, and the occasional hobby isn’t something that’s completely easy, and balancing it all is a challenge for me.
What rule that you follow at work do you consider to be #1?
To admit my mistakes and be honest with myself and with others. In general, I think that it’s important to respect people and try to be someone that’s open and positive, and above all: don’t crap your pants over anything.
What area of law that people tend to forget about do you consider important?
Law and society are interconnected, they mutually identify each other, and to a certain degree it’s important for law to evolve as society progresses. It seems to me that this aspect sometimes takes a back seat – at least that there are insufficient legal instruments to keep pace with our fast-paced high-tech era. I see a certain parallel with the traditional school system, which doesn’t want to adapt to the needs of children and society, which is in a completely different place than several decades ago.
What life hack helps you most in life?
Intermittent fasting. It has lots of health benefits – if I don’t overeat in the evening, I sleep better an in general have more energy, my body isn’t as weighed down. That main advantage at work, is that when I visit our cafeteria (which we’ve nicknamed the “chemical plant”), after 16 hours of fasting I’ll eat pretty well any “slop” prepared by the chef (laughs).
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