PragueConnect.cz - Leadership

PragueConnect.cz is providing resources for English speaking Business Professionals living in, visiting, or interested in Prague and Czech Republic. Browse our latest Leadership articles, if you have interesting content to share with our users, please feel free to contact us anytime to discuss with us possible publication on PragueConnect.cz!

Ambassadors without diplomatic passport - Vladimíra Glatzová

Vladimíra Glatzová is one of the founding partners of the Glatzová & Co law firm. In 2010, her firm was evaluated as being the top firm, according to Who’s Who Legal. In 2009, 2011 and 2012 it was evaluated as being the best Czech law firm, according to Chambers Europe.

  Even though her company employs more than 60, as well as a branch office in Slovakia, Glatzová considers herself first a lawyer, rather than a manager. Regardless of these facts, managerial work is never postponed or considered a secondary matter. She values the team spirit of her co-workers (introducing the tradition of common lunches), so her colleagues characterize her as a very humane person, along with strict, decisive and demanding.

Within the Czech legal environment, Glatzová is an exceptional woman. Her clients are not her rivals, the lecturing style of some lawyers is unknown to her and she has a great respect for them. She earned her reputation thanks to a profound knowledge of the legal system, her delicate approach towards client business issues and a positive attitude in solving legal issues.

She studied law at the Law Faculty of the Charles University and at the London University; then studying corporate finance at the London School of Economics. With two children, she experienced a turnover in her career at age 30, deciding to experience the unknown and move to London for an internship at the Freshfields multinational law firm. Her original three-month internship turned into a two-year stay, during which she gained a great deal of experience. Apart from London, she has also worked in Frankfurt and Paris. A day after her return from Paris, on 1st April, 1994 she opened her own law firm with one very clear vision: to provide clients with legal services of international

quality, comparable to the foreign firms where she gained the tools. Her 20 years of success in the Czech legal market and the reputation of her firm inside and outside the country, along with being on top in the Czech Republic, indicate that her decision was no April Fool’s joke.

Vladimíra is demanding of herself and towards others as well. Everything she does, she does fully. In her leisure time she manages to dedicate herself to horseback riding, marathon running and, despite her altitude sickness and several unsuccessful attempts, she managed to climb Gokyo Peak in the Himalayas. She also embarked on a one-month tour to Santiago de Compostela, where she walked almost a thousand kilometers, alone and with only a backpack. Still, she finds time to play in the theatre.

 

A first traditional question – how do you perceive the contemporary world?

I see the present world definitely more positively than negatively. I do not fancy laments about where the world is heading. The world is constantly changing rather fast these days. Yet the fundamental things remain the same. The elderly do not like the lifestyle of the young, because it is different and, from all that, they conclude that the world is heading for the worse. That’s been the unfortunate truth throughout the history of the world. To me, the young seem no worse than what we used to be. They possess the same purity and honesty and are careless and full of hope and trust, just as any other young generation. Compared to us, in my opinion, they are more diligent and certainly more motivated than the youth during our totalitarian regime, when they could succeed only by protecting or cooperating with that regime. The current young generation has the courage to aim higher than these subjugated generations, who were led to mediocrity and where no one stood out.

What do I perceive negatively? I do not like that the world is hasty, that people read less, give less time to their families and spend more in front of the television and on their computer. People are obsessed with surfing the net for a kind of pointless search of information. I shudder at the thought of our fast-growing population and the madmen in power, who have nuclear weapons at their disposal.

Thanks to globalization, from an economic aspect, the world is becoming more complicated. We are trying to take advantage and in all spheres benefit from size, but what is sizable is also cumbersome, confusing and poorly controlled. I experienced the growth of many clients, for whom I began working 10 years ago, when their businesses were still small, private and flexible. It was a pleasure to work with them back then; everything went lightly, easily and with no waiting for the “board” to make a decision the second Monday of the month. As these companies grew larger, they introduced new rules. More and more people had to be copied in the mail, internal intrigues and communication noise appeared, with new and newer announcements. Today we write reports on things no one knows, for instance, how much we may charge someone in the next quarter of the year for legal services.

However, this doesn’t only apply to companies, the European Union strives for a united and large-scale economy. Even there, we emphasize issues that root from clumsiness, bureaucracy and the inability to control reasonably and effectively. For Western Civilization, the greatest pitfalls are high expectations. In the past, mankind was humbler, more prepared for disaster, famine, poverty, wars and plague. Today, Europe is spoiled and complains about how the crisis hit it. In Greece, bombs are being thrown as a sign of protest against the cuts and savings and nobody realizes that, despite this crisis, we still live in prosperity. However, no one will explain to the masses that not having two cars in the family is okay, that 20 years ago even one car was a luxury and yet people survived with just that. To let yourself become spoiled is incredibly easy. Each generation takes for granted the environment in which it grew up. The stories of our parents living modestly are simply an embarrassing and trite cliché.

We live above our means and spend more than we earn. When my parents bought me my first car from their savings, my grandfather crossed himself: “You are not supposed to touch your savings in the bank!,” he said Today, it’s natural to live in debt. The savings accounts offered are so tempting and suggestive! Who could persuade people that living in debt is a route to hell, since advertisements all around us claim just the opposite? Even whole states are in debt. In the world there is such a high accumulation of debt that, in reality, the option to pay them doesn’t exist anymore. And no one counts on that.

It’s a paradox that rich countries are in debt, and practically everyone owes everyone. When there is a financial deficit, more money is released into circulation, which supports the economy but provokes inflation. We are accustomed to the security we have and governments are trying to preserve it by all possible means. Even though it is humane and important in order to obtain votes, it’s not promoting responsibility, which is what we need in order to recuperate from the crisis. In this relation, many sin consciously and then others pay for that. The richer we get, the fewer children we have and yet we want to have pension security. How? It is not known.

Despite all this, it seems to me that the world is evolving. We have never been better, life used to be harder and full of wars. Of course, we Europeans see the world from a European perspective and judge according to the views of the western world. Few in their assessment of the world take into account what is happening in Asia. For instance that, in China over the last twenty years the number of university students has quadrupled; that the Internet allows access to information, of which twenty years ago the Asians could only dream. Asia is moving, there are a lot of talented young people who are prepared to work hard and do not expect any guarantees of prosperity. How will this reflect on Europe, we still don’t know. So far, the vast majority of the world’s wealth is in the hands of the Western countries. When Asia achieves wealth, it will stop being a source of cheap labor. On the other hand, this will greatly increase the market, which should have a positive overall effect for everybody. But what exactly does this imply for the West--we do not know – will it have a smaller share of a larger pie? And, if so, how big will it be? 

The number of people who suffer from famine is decreasing. We live longer, are more educated, are learning to solve conflicts other than with wars. The world made enormous progress over the past 100 years regarding the protection of human rights, minority rights, equality of races and the emancipation of women. Over the past 20 years our responsibility towards the environment increased. People are more eager to help. Currently, for the first time in history, a movement among the richest men is being born, as men  are more ready to give up part of their property to charity.

The essential good news, that concerns our part of the world, is that all the developed countries are democratic. That has its negatives, but it is democracy and today’s teenagers have no idea what  totalitarian regimes looked like.

I would summarize all this by saying everything is getting better in our world.

You are a legal advisor to entrepreneurs in the field of solar energy who decided to oppose the bill on supported energy sources. Is it difficult to fight against your country, or is this just a case, like any other?

It is a sad affair for me, as if I was scoring an own goal. On the other hand, I do not believe that because of this I should not represent the investors. If I am convinced that the state had violated international treaties and constitutional principles, I will fearlessly fight for the rights of the victims.

Are your clients mostly Czech or international companies?

It is difficult to distinguish them today. Most of the Czech company owners are foreign, so the number of pure Czech clients is considerably lower. Many of our clients are foreign investors, whom we advise on the acquisition or sale of their businesses in the Czech Republic, while resolving various problems related to investment, such as financing or restructuring and we deal with relationships with other shareholders or various other disputes. In the past few years, we are focused more and more on the Czech market. We advise Czech companies, whether they are owned by domestic or foreign investors, on dealing with their everyday legal issues. We outline contracts for them, advise on labor law, competition in the market and lead disputes or communal agendas.

You successfully compete with large reputable international legal firms. In the Czech Republic there is a long-lasting tendency to assume that everything foreign is automatically better. How did you manage to reverse this stereotype?

With twenty years of hard honest work and by searching for the right people and a relentless selection of who should be part of the team, as well as who does not belong here. People from the business spheres often say that they never heard anything negative about our firm. This is exactly what I always wanted. The quality must be balanced. Some firms employ very competent and also not so remarkable lawyers who are being assigned different cases, depending on the importance of the client, meaning that the more important ones get the high-caliber lawyers. I do not like this approach, because a firm must be coherent and the work – exceptional. This is the only way to stand out and maintain a privileged place in the market.

Do you believe in coincidences, or external influences on a career?

To a certain extent, yes. He who has the poise, will not drown and he who carries the marshal’s baton in his pack will probably pull it out. Certainly there are a lot of coincidences that drive people in diverse directions, but not all of us have the ability to take advantage of them. It is said that fortune favors the prepared and so it is, indeed. I see talent in the ability to take this advantage, to be in the right place at the right time and recognize an opportunity. Those who complain they never got it, probably just did not recognize it. Or perhaps they did not have the courage and strength to utilize it.

You have been identified as the third most influential woman in Czech business. How does this influence manifest itself in practice and how do you actively apply it?

I have a lot of opportunities to publicly express my opinion concerning certain questions and I do respect that. I am pleased when I can inspire someone, if only to a simple change in perspective, just as I am inspired by the numerous articles I read. However, I do not consider myself an influential person.

This evaluation is more a reflection of the practice than vice versa. It is certainly not the case that, because of this evaluation, I gained an advantage while doing my work or in obtaining new clients. The question could therefore rather be why I obtained this appreciation. The answer would then be that it is mainly due to the firm I founded, but which is far from being only my doing. We are 5 partners and 30 lawyers and many others who contribute their efforts to the firm, their enthusiasm and a piece of themselves.

During your work in foreign countries, your husband did not accompany you and you left with only your sons. According to your experience, is a dual-careered marriage possible?

Certainly, yes. The single-career marriage is simpler though. It is valuable to be a married man with a loving wife who has enough time to care for the children, her husband and the fireside. On the other hand, such relationships often face problems due to an imbalance in the social importance of the partners. When a woman manages to organize her life in a way that she has enough time for her children, while a third person is taking care of the household, she can then dedicate herself to her career, be a good mother and an equal partner to her husband. It requires good organizational skills and a great amount of energy, if one strives to have the strength and mood for children after work. 


Previous article in this series:
Ambassadors without diplomatic passport - Jana Adamcová

Linda Štucbartová graduated from the Institute of International Territorial Studies. After a one year scholarship at the Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies, she obtained a Diplome d’études supérieures from the Graduate Institute of International Studies in Geneva. Between the years 2002 and 2006, she worked in senior positions at the Diplomatic Academy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Since 2006 she has functioned in the private sphere, and lectures at the Anglo-American University, where she was named the Chair of the Department of Diplomacy. In addition to training in negotiation and communication of clients from the private, public and non-profit sector, she regularly collaborates with NGOs in the projects of the International Global Young Leaders Conference and the Women and Leadership Programme. Linda Štucbartová is a member of the Rotary Club Prague International. She currently works for ŠKODA AUTO a.s. as a Learning and Development Specialist. Articles are extracts from her book Velvyslanci i bez diplomatického pasu (Eng. “Ambassadors without a Diplomatic Passport”).

Source: Leaders Magazine - www.leadersmagazine.cz