Lenka Dvořáková, CFO Colours of Ostrava: “In our team, I most value empathy, healthy insolence, and assertiveness.”
A human touch, friendship, team spirit, mutual motivation – nothing could characterize Lenka Dvořáková’s mindset more when it comes to work. For ten years she worked on audits at KPMG, she spent two years as Head of Controlling and Reporting at the INVIA Group, and is now jumping into a world where numbers and spreadsheets merge with music: “I don’t know how everything will work out, but if I don’t try, I’ll never find out,” says the new financial director of the Colours of Ostrava festival with a smile. And it’s no coincidence that she was recently selected for the #finwomen project – a list of 131 inspiring women working in finance. A new year, new challenges, and lots of new faces – another round of the Rockaway Insider newsletter is here, and in the first issue we’re introducing Lenka.
Which work skills also come in handy in your personal life?
Two things: patience and being organized. Patience is related to the fact that our teams – be it at Invia or now at Colours – are varied and people have various ways of working and their results vary. We also all communicate differently. Many times I used to have the need to redo something, and said to myself that I’d rather do everything myself – I had the feeling that I’d do it best. I wasn’t patient enough to wait and see how my people would handle individual tasks. And because I work with an excellent team, I gradually learned to have patience and wait to see how others do a given task. The patience I’ve learned at work is something I need even more in my personal life (laughs). Especially now, when my son is in Grade 1. I often feel the need to read something for him, to write it better and in a nicer way, but I try to be patient and say to myself that we’re all different and do things our own way, not better or worse.
As far as being organized goes, that’s clear: I’ve got lots and internal and external deadlines, team meetings, my own tasks – right now I’m juggling Invia and Colours – I need Outlook, a diary… So to plan my time to make everything work efficiently. I also started doing this in normal life, where on Sunday evening I make plans so I can combine time with my son, his school and after-school activities, my exercise, getting together with the family, or activities with friends. It really does work, and I’m glad that my work life has taught me this. I’m then capable of working efficiently wherever and with whomever.
What or who inspires you most at work?
It’s not just one person. I’ve had several jobs, and in each one someone inspired me, but in general I think it’s the team spirit in which I want to work. And in all the companies where I was, it was excellent – which is what “forces” me to go to the office. When I see how “team flow” around me is working, it gives me energy and motivates me.
What characteristic do you consider most important in your colleagues?
That which I value in myself too: a combination of empathy, healthy insolence, and assertiveness. I like when people in the team are able to support each other and know what others need, and at the same time I want people to be able to come to me and tell me that something isn’t working or that something is wrong – even if it’s me, as their boss. But also for them to ask for more work or a raise, because I don’t always have the opportunity to notice it on my own.
How do you balance your work life?
Most of the time I don’t spend at work, I spend with my son. We do lots of activities that help me switch off my brain and not think about work – we play various games, for example, where he occasionally annoys me because he beats me, and I can see how he thinks in a childlike way, with ease, while it takes me a while to switch off, and I lose fair and square (laughs). I also go to a fitness centre regularly, which I don’t only do for the exercise itself and I occasionally do more talking with my trainer during my session than exercising, but it helps me get out of work mode.
What would you say to those who would like to have your job one day?
Even though it sounds like a cliché, definitely that they should get out of their comfort zone. A lot of people stay in jobs they don’t enjoy or where they don’t make any progress. Perhaps only because the work is two stations farther away, because they already know everyone in their existing team and they don’t want to try something new, or they don’t have enough self-confidence. Then they get stuck in the same job for ten years, for example, without making any progress.
When I was leaving KPMG, or now, when I’m moving from Invia to Colours, I also didn’t know whether I’d succeed, because I’ll be doing things I’ve never done before. Plus I don’t have to take a job that’s two stops farther away, but several hundred kilometres (laughs) – I don’t know how it’ll all turn out, but I won’t know until I try it…
In interviews, what question do you ask first and why?
I also worked as a recruitment coordinator, so I’ve done several dozen interviews, and my first question was always: “How are you today?” Because it really interests me, plus I also need to get the applicant talking and make them comfortable before I start asking work-related questions. I’d want them to feel that we’re going to have a relaxed conversation about how we could work together. My priority is the team and team spirit, and the applicant should know this from the start. And before I ask any sort of question, it’s usually preceded by a handshake, which will tell me with 90 % certainty how the interview will go and whether the given person will fit in with my team.
In interviews, what question do you ask first and why?
That’s something I know for sure (laughs). Given that I work in finance and reporting and used to work in audit, where everything is organized, planned, and “clean”, my biggest childhood dream fits in with this world perfectly: I’ve always wanted to have a stationery shop! And I’d actually even enjoy selling things in it. I like how everything smells and is organized, everything is in its place and on the right shelf. I always loved when at the end of August my mother would take me to go buy exercise books, I love clean sheets of paper, empty notepads, sharpened pencils – plus I inherited a love for sharpening from my father (laughs). Hopefully, one day I’ll make this dream come true. And if not, I’ve got one more wish waiting in line – a flower shop. Even though I can with certainty say that nobody would probably buy my bouquets, and in this case I’d really have to limit myself to ownership, and leave management and creativity to others.