We never got a ride. We succeeded thanks to our own courage and hard work, agree Michaela Bakala and Katarína Kohlmayer
The interview was conducted by Jaroslav Kramer, Managing Partner of the #FinŽeny content platform.
Today’s Women in Finance podcast discusses courage in personal and professional life, creating a balance between the two, and the attitude of the young generation to both values. In the new episode of Women in Finance, we’ll hear from successful female managers who dared to seize the opportunities that came their way. Our invitation was accepted by Michaela Bakala, Chairwoman of the Bakala Foundation Board of Trustees, and Katarína Kohlmayer, Member of the Board of Directors and CFO of KKCG Group.
Michaela Bakala feels that courage is lacking in the Czech Republic, even from those she would expect to be able to argue and stand up for their opinions. Where she does not lack openness and stepping out of her comfort zone is in the generation of young people, especially students, whom she helps within the Bakala Foundation. “I meet the smartest kids in our country, and that pours the greatest optimism into my veins. I see hope and a future in these people,” says Michaela, who finds philanthropic work fulfilling.
At the same time, she is grateful for all the opportunities and experiences she’s had in her life. “I have met many interesting people throughout my life, enjoyed many interesting opportunities, and in retrospect, I am glad I have tried varying roles and positions. It’s helped me find out what I am not good at, where I have succeeded, and where I can move on,” says the Bakala Foundation Board of Trustees Chair.
As described in the Women in Finance podcast, she has current plans to capitalize on her experience and study psychology to help people as a therapist later. To that end, she will soon attend the University of California in the US to study full-time.
When you enjoy your work, it’s a hobby.
Katarina Kohlmayer is no stranger to being adventurous and taking risks. When she had the opportunity to travel abroad after school to learn English, she didn’t hesitate. Along her career path, she met people with MBAs who steered her to pursue a business career. So she decided to try it, and it opened the door to a new job.
Katarina worked for many years at Morgan Stanley. She says she doesn’t feel the need to change jobs often, especially when she enjoys her work. “If I feel I am good, I have stamina at work,” she says, adding that after 15 years, she wanted to try something different and, by instinct, chose KKCG, where she has been ever since.
KKCG’s CFO, as she recounts in the Women in Finance podcast, is characterized by her hard work. “I have always worked apart from my mother. (Does she mean separately from her parent her mother? Or does she mean separate from being a mother herself?) I was happy for all the opportunities, and I was afraid that if I jumped off the successful career train, I wouldn’t jump back on,” she says, adding that as a result, she spent too much time working. “But when you enjoy your work, it’s actually a hobby,” she adds.
You always have to work for it.
According to Michaela Bakala, the younger generation is more sensitive to the work-life balance topic. “I’m a bit nervous that people nowadays want to enjoy themselves right from the start of their lives. Nothing in life can hurt them; everything must be easy, and someone will always help them. Yes, we will help them, but they are expected to work for it. You always have to work for it. It doesn’t just happen,” Michaela explains.
She always takes the time to stop and look at herself and her situation and analyze it. “My career path was about succeeding in the position, learning something, and doing a good job. Neither I nor Katarina took the ride. No one did it for us; it was all our job and responsibility. As well as the need to face criticism or failure,” Michaela Bakala concludes.
What failure shaped Michaela Bakala and Katarina Kohlmayer’s professional journey? In what area did they last outperform themselves? And in what ways are they rigid? They talk about that, too, in the new Women in Finance episode.