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Interview with Jaroslav Ďuriš, CEO, Prague Public Transport Company

“It is very often necessary to combine both feelings and rational approach; I am trying to listen to both heart and mind.”

Jaroslav Ďuriš is the CEO of the Prague Public Transport Company (DPP), the most important public transport provider in the Czech Republic. He knows the DPP very well as he worked here between 1981 and 2008. In 2008 he left and managed the public transport company in České Budějovice for four years. He returned to Prague as a crisis manager and immediately took on a challenging task: to save the local public transport company.

 You finished second in the last year’s selection procedure of the new CEO of the DPP. Could you imagine at that time that in the future you could lead the DPP nevertheless?

I did not think about it. I fully focused on my work in České Budějovice.

You managed the public transport company in České Budějovice. Are the two transport companies comparable? In your opinion, what is the same and where do you see the largest differences?

Of course, many things are comparable, from the main activities of the companies, the ownership structures, communication with the town hall to legislation. From my point of view, the main difference lies in the size of the companies.

Your “100-day grace period” (although the term might not be used in your field of business) is over. How was it?

During these 100 days, I was extremely busy. There are really a vast number of priorities and I often had to decide which of them is more important than the others. I worked from dawn to dusk.

It has been said in some media that you have a strong mandate thanks to your experience in the public transport business. They call you a new
“general” of the largest municipal company in the Czech Republic. How do you feel about this?

I appreciate this title; however, I do not overrate it.

On the other hand, when you took up the post, the politicians said openly that if you fail, the results for the DPP will be disastrous. With a bit of exaggeration, do you consider yourself an interim manager?

I knew from the very beginning that the situation in the company is quite complex. On the other hand, if I had not believed that it was possible to do something about that, I would never have accepted the job. I believe that the situation can be managed, even if the results will not be visible in the course of the nearest months.

Do the media follow your work more closely than you had expected? And how do you get on with them?

I am trying to treat the media fairly. My priority is communication in all directions; with employees, as well as with our owner, that is the town hall, and obviously also with the media.

When you became the CEO of the DPP, you announced some steps that you would like to take. Which of them do you consider to be of greatest importance?

In my opinion, the most important step, especially during my first months at DPP, has been the stabilization of the company. This includes internal cost savings, change of conditions regarding the order for new trams from the Škoda Transportation company, and of course also finishing the works on the extended metro line A.

Do you still communicate with ordinary employees like you used to do in České Budějovice?

In my opinion, this is one of the features of my management style. During the long years that I spent working here in the Prague Public Transport Company, I made a lot of friends and acquaintances. Therefore I communicate both with our social partners and with employees throughout the company.

You said that when deciding about taking up the leading post in the company, you had listened to your heart. Will this influence your management of the DPP in any respect? Or do you prefer strictly rational approach to decision making?

It is very often necessary to combine both combine both feelings and rational approach; I am trying to listen to both heart and mind. As I was a part of the company already in the 1980s, the heart plays an important role. However, as the CEO, I often have to take the rational approach. As you see, I combine both.

When did you last travel by public transport?

I travel by public transport almost every day, so the last occasion was today. For me, it is the fastest and at the same time very comfortable way of travelling from the headquarters of the DPP to the city centre and back.

Do you have any proven recipe for relaxation?

In my opinion, everybody must learn to “switch off” after work. I have two proven recipes. First and foremost my family, and secondly fishing.

Author: Jaroslav Kramer
Photo: DPP
Translation: Zuzana Halamíčková

Source: Leaders Magazine -  
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