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An interview with Livia Klausová

Ing. Livia Klausová, CSc., an economist, the Ambassador of the Czech Republic to Slovakia and a former first lady in an interview for the Leaders Magazine.

 The Livia and Václav Klaus Endowment Fund (Nadační fond manželů Livie a Václava Klausových) has been around for a whole decade. When you look back at the ten years that have passed, which moments are the first ones to come into your mind?

“An important moment that comes into my head was the establishment of our fund, the first meeting with representatives of dozens of charities from all around the Czech Republic that took place in Lány. Reunion with the children and students to whom our endowment fund had helped through scholarships and language courses or assisted in coping with difficult life situation several years later was a wonderful experience, too. I also greatly enjoy meeting the senior citizens who learn to work with computers in our courses. We could not invite all the participants at once since there are almost eight thousand of them.”  

What are your visions for the future of the endowment fund?

“The fund continues in all its activities. We keep concentrating on the education area, also after March 2013, when the term of office of president Václav Klaus, one of the founders of the fund, has finished. We are of course considering broadening the scope of our activities and possible changes in our programme.” 

For you personally, which decision connected to the endowment fund was the most difficult to make?
After my cooperation with the Bone Marrow Transplant Foundation and the ŽIVOT 90 Civic Association in the 1990s, the most difficult decision was to establish our own endowment fund together with my husband and to decide on its orientation and scope of activities.”

One of the hot topics in the media at the moment is the position of the first lady. Did you succeed in developing this post further? Did you manage to meet your expectations?

Each president’s wife performs her role in her own way, according to her approach and her feelings. I tried not only to represent our country well but above all to act as a little “ombudsman” and personally react to issues troubling the citizens. I was given the opportunity to meet a vast number of people, to visit many places both in the Czech Republic and abroad, and I also found myself in extraordinary situations. When I say extraordinary, I do not mean only meeting kings and queens, outstanding politicians, scientists, and artists, but also many people who do wonderful things, as well as those who have been in need of our help.”

As the first lady, you were a significant personality; however, you probably did not have much time left for the area of your studies – economics. Are you able to keep an overview over the market and international trade?

“My life does not consist only of the period when I was the president’s wife. For many years, I worked at the Economics Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences, at a foreign trade corporation; I was an executive secretary of the Czech Economic Society, I participated at many international conferences devoted to economic topics, especially international finance, I held a presentation for the Canadian Bankers Association, etc. Recently I worked on an analytic study comparing various groups of countries from the point of view of international trade. Naturally, I was forced to follow much broader aspects of the development abroad, not only in the field of economics. By the way, this year‘s Nobel Prize in economics was awarded to three economists, Eugene F. Fama, Robert J. Shiller a Lars Peter Hansen, for scientific contribution to evaluating rationality and regulation of capital and financial markets. Interestingly, the first two economists are known to differ substantially in their approach.” 

Would you like to comment on your new role as the ambassador to Slovakia?

“I was pleased by the offer to become the ambassador to the Slovak Republic and I was happy to accept it. I have been carefully and systematically preparing for my task. I believe that I will make use of not only my knowledge and experience, but also of everything I have learnt during my very intensive internship at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and that I will be able to enhance the extraordinary mutual relationship between the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic. I do not like talking about my work theoretically. I wish my actions and results to speak for me.”

What barriers must be overcome in order for the Czech Republic to develop both economically and socially? In your opinion, is the country strong enough for that?

“I am convinced that the Czech Republic meets conditions for both.”

Can you imagine starting a career as a freshly graduated economist today? What would pose the greatest difficulties?

“This question is very hypothetical. I can imagine that my options and opportunities would be substantially broader than at the time when we did not choose our first job as it used to be assigned to us. These days, university studies and preparation of students for life and future career differ substantially from what I experienced during my studies. There are more career opportunities; however, the pressure of competition has grown as well.”

How do you perceive your current placement in the list of the 50 most powerful Czech women published by the Forbes magazine? How did people around you react to that?

“I was pleased to find that I was included in the list together with many women whom I deeply respect. I received some congratulations on my position in the list, but most people around me did not react to it in any significant way.”

In your opinion, what is the main prerequisite for a successful career? Ideas, personality, leadership?

“In my opinion, the main prerequisites are knowledge, hard work, motivation and ability to cooperate with others.”

Many of our readers surely remember the splendid social events held at the Prague Castle under your auspices. Don’t you miss the opportunity to host such – in many ways beneficial – events?

“I took great pleasure in organizing all the events that you have mentioned. They were connected to my then role of the president’s wife. I established a new tradition of inviting foreign female ambassadors and foreign male ambassadors’ wives, as well as Czech female ambassadors and foreign male ambassadors’ wives to Lány. Furthermore, I invited political representatives’ wives, as well as representatives of foundations and endowment funds. Delightful annual events include the reception of multiple blood donors or finalists of the Zlatý Ámos competition for best teachers at the Prague Castle and many other occasions. I am glad that some of these gatherings will continue also under the auspices of the new first lady.”

Source: Leaders Magazine - - Jaroslav Kramer
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