COO Heureka Group Michal Vodák: “Independence of others helps me concentrate on my own work.”
Everyone we’ve presented in our Rockaway Insider over the past two and a half years likes and is fulfilled by their work – but Heureka Group COO Michal Vodák could be the spokesman for this inspiring group! His charming drive is infectious, but he’s also able to talk about travel or discovering exotic flavours with the same enthusiasm. At the Heureka Group, Michal is in charge of the largest department – Commerce – which includes Brand Marketing, Performance Marketing, the Business Department, Customer Care, Yield Management, and Business Development. What’s the most important thing at work, in his opinion, and what’s his dream? Have a look at the new Insider…
Which work skills also come in handy in your personal life?
I’ll put it differently – I thought that at work I’d learned to be patient, and that would definitely come in handy in my personal life too. Alas I repeatedly found out that I don’t have this capability (laughs). I’ve got a family with three small children, and they try my patience immensely. And when my wife happens to be away and I have to manage them all on my own, I’m outnumbered and it’s a major burden on my patience. I always thought of myself as being a calm, patient person, and then I found out that I’m not…
What or who inspires you most at work?
I’m inspired by Tomáš Braverman – and I don’t want it to sound like I’m trying to flatter him, but for me he’s really the CEO I’d dreamt of. Tomáš is extremely open and there’s nothing he won’t say. Certain people consider this quality of his a bad one since he’s a CEO, but I really like it. I myself experienced many top-level managers who didn’t have this trait and played various political games – that’s something I’ve always hated. Then when I met Tomáš for the first time – back then I was doing business development for a start-up solution – it occurred to me how excellent it would be to work with this spontaneous and open person. He levelled with me and didn’t play any games with me as a potential supplier. His openness can sometimes be a bit of a disadvantage, but for me it’s an extremely inspiring trait that I really like.
What characteristic do you consider most important in your colleagues?
That I can rely on them. I believe that I don’t have a really good memory. I use various techniques to avoid forgetting things, but they’re not completely foolproof, and I know people that are much more organized. That’s why I can appreciate it when a person who works with me is capable of taking the initiative, can be relied on, and needs me only when some sort of obstacle crops up or a problem needs to be discussed, helped with. This characteristic in people really helps me concentrate on my work.
How do you balance your work life?
I really love working (smiles). Not that I’m a complete workaholic, but I like a job where I’m capable of doing things that I’ve got in my head, know they’re good, and can implement immediately. That’s happening now and I don’t think that it’s because I’m part of the company’s management team and have the authority to do so. It’s because Heureka is a specific type of company and every single employee here has this opportunity. We expect a great deal of independence, proactivity, and entrepreneurship from everyone, including people in entry-level positions. These things really motivate me to work hard too, I like my work and don’t have the feeling that I need to balance it out. But of course we sometimes get stressed out or into situations that you then deserve to balance out with some relaxation. In my free time, I mainly travel – I really love discovering new countries, cities, and exotic foods, too!
What would you say to those who would like to have your job one day?
There are many great paths to top management, and it depends on the given person’s profile. I think that what got me here is my future-oriented personality. That’s my advantage. Thanks to this I introduced such measures to the company that I felt should be done, so things improve. Then when it works, it’s a path to greater competencies and responsibility. The fact that I care about how something will end up is also important. That’s why I’d tell people this: be motivated to work and show that what I am doing, and my vision will help the company move forward a bit.
In interviews, what question do you ask first and why?
I usually ask people about things related to the given position, their profile, or CV, like everyone else. But in my view, the most important thing in an interview is whether the person is capable of talking about themselves with some sort of emotion. They will thus reveal whether they will have an emotional connection to their work and whether they will put everything they can into it.
This isn’t something I came up with – but when I myself was being interviewed once, I was told: If you hadn’t just now so graphically described a story from your past work life, I’d have asked you about a project that you care about a lot and that you can describe in all aspects – what went well, what didn’t. I’d then watch how graphically you’d describe everything and how involved in the story you were.
That captivated me and I try to do it similarly. I look at how involved people are and when I see they’re not, that’s exactly what I ask.
If you could pick any other profession, which would it be?
What I’m doing is my dream job. I always wanted to do marketing and then I realized that I like doing sales a lot too. But one of the things I’d still like to experience is working abroad. I always worked for big international companies, and at Heureka it’s actually also like that, because we have a presence in nine countries. But so far I’ve never succeeded in working abroad for a long time. I think that it would really enrich me! Perhaps for two or three years… We’ll see whether it’ll come to pass one day (smiles).