“I see important to set priorities.”
The year 2015 has been very successful for Czech Trade. What are your aims for the upcoming year 2016?
Our aim for this year is to transform the enhanced activity of Czech Trade foreign offices into successful business cases and there are several aspects how to measure the success. Not only numbers and the volume of export materialized but also further criteria, such as the size and experience of a company with export, the origins of the goods whether they are traditionally produced or new products are introduced or the fact whether a company is trying to access traditional markets or new complicated territories. We also want to more portray successes of Czech companies on foreign markets in media and so to motivate and inspire potential future exporting companies.
Bringing the services of Czech Trade agency closer to the regions in the Czech Republic represents the second priority for this year. In March, we have launched “Export Coaching” program that is designed to attract the segment of small and medium enterprises aiming to expand to new markets. This program offers a complex set of services starting with the first consultation in the region, continuing with the detailed outline of the strategy drafted at the headquarters to the final stage to assisting the entry to the chosen foreign market.
The third priority is to enlarge the portfolio of the targeted markets that we want to make accessible for the Czech companies. Already at the end of 2015, we have launched the preparation for the enlargement of network of foreign offices to add new representations in Singapore, Iran and to open the second office in Bangalore, India and already the fourth office in Canton, China. Furthermore, we want to open an office in Lagos, Nigeria to cover the region of tropical Africa and to strengthen even more our offices in the Unites States, since Czech companies are very interested in this particular territory.
What are the trends supporting the export activities that can be inspiring from other countries and how does the Czech Republic characterized by its open economy stand in comparison with other countries?
We have been inspired by several cases presented at the meeting of the European Trade Promotion Organizations (ETPO). To mention some specific examples, Denmark is trying to link the foreign development assistance hand in hand to the support of the trade and support of the employment, in Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia organizations supporting export are closely co-operating with early start ups and so speeding the process cycle with regards to the export.
Who are currently main clients and what are other target groups?
Czech trade is primarily designed to assist small and medium enterprizes, however we also work with several large companies. I have already mentioned our program “Export Coaching” in regions. In various parts of the Czech Republic we regularly held export forums where heads of foreign offices introduces European and non-European territories. Individual consultations are being part of these meetings.
Furthermore, we have created a network of five offices in Ostrava, Pardubice, Brno, Pilsen and Ústí nad Labem. Regional export managers are particularly sensitive to the needs of local companies. In case of an export potential identified in a particular company, sectoral specialists from Prague Czech Trade headquarters would prepare a specific strategy for an entry to a determined market that would also take into consideration the company readiness for export, its commercial strategy and a specific product. Employees of foreign offices then make happen the service directly on the selected territory. The service is therefore tailored made according to the client ´s needs and requests.
Our clients repeatedly confirm that our services have helped them to make new connections, to gain commercial opportunities and also they have saved costs and minimized risks connected to the entry to unknown markets. We regard export successes of our clients the highest reward for us.
When it comes to the civil service, the quality of human resources is often a subject to criticism. You have experience both from private and currently public sector. What is your approach to the leadership?
General directors of Czech Trade foreign offices are truly those who bear the biggest part of know-how. I have realized this fact as soon as I assumed my position. Therefore it is crucial that the most qualified people serve abroad. In order to select new general directors, we have started to use the method based on success factor index to ensure that the right ones are sent abroad having the right key competencies.
What is your approach regarding work-life balance?
I see important to set priorities, both in professional and personal life. Feel satisfied at both parts and be able to separate time for both of them.
Talking about separation, how do you see the theme of dividing competencies between two different ministries – Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Ministry of Industry and Trade? This seems to be a never ending story and evergreen for media debates, but is there an easy way out?
I believe that the solution lies in the agreements between two ministries concerned, specifying roles and scope of both actors participating at the economic diplomacy, as well as joined projects, such as Client Centre for Export that offers all services of unified foreign network to which belong diplomatic missions as well as foreign offices. Working with both ministries, we have created a Catalogue of services for Exporters that are provided by all of the subjects mentioned earlier.
There is currently a trend in the corporate world supports many programs to enhance diversity and so productivity. Are there any similar trends to help any particular highly specialized export groups?
Yes, such trends exist. I can mention the support of our agency for export companies that are highly specialized. There is an initiative in our office in Israel to assist with the help of obtaining a certification, key contacts and presence at the important trade fairs with regards to the kosher rules food products.
Czech and Slovak Leaders Magazine has been recently extended to cover also Slovakia. How do you personally see Czech and Slovak relations?
I perceive them excellent, given the fact that my wife comes from Slovakia..
What are your final words for Czech and Slovak Leaders Magazine readers?
I wish that readers are successful in finding interesting information, relevant to identifying new opportunities to find new ways to foreign markets, to have many ideas and last but not least enough of drive to materialize their export visions.
By Linda Štucbartová