Born in 1961, in the former Czechoslovakia, Zdenek came of age at a time when an authoritarian communist regime controlled his native land. Faced with an uncertain future, Zdenek left his home in Brno to seek a better life, mainly education, in the US at just 19 years of age.
Zdenek got a job in a restaurant, learned English, and took classes at a community college. Later he gained admission to the University of California, Berkeley, and earned a scholarship to pursue his MBA at the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1989.
Zdenek began a career in investment banking with jobs at Drexel Burnham Lambert, Bank of America, and later, Credit Suisse First Boston. He returned home to Czechoslovakia to join his compatriots in the country’s transition to democracy and to play a part in its emerging free-market economy.
He helped establish Credit Suisse First Boston’s Prague subsidiary, which he managed until 1994 when he co-founded the Czech Republic’s first private investment bank, Patria Finance. The bank played a significant role in privatization and restructuring projects such as Skoda Auto, the first issue of Czech sovereign bonds, and the establishment of asset management. Patria Finance also played a vital role in establishing corporate financing standards, and the establishment of the Prague Stock Exchange, where Zdenek became a member of its first supervisory board
In 2004, Zdenek and several partners acquired the Czech investment firm Karbon Invest, which owned OKD, at that time the biggest thermal and coking coal mining company in the Czech Republic. Four years later, OKD’s parent company New World Resources listed on the London Stock Exchange in the largest Initial Public Offering of 2008.
In 2010 Zdenek revitalized a historic industrial site in the Karlin district of Prague creating the unique administrative and communal complex Forum Karlin. The complex includes a multi-purpose hall and the modern newsroom of the Economia media house. The commercially successful, architecturally awarded complex sold in 2018 to a new owner.
Today, Zdenek continues to be an active global investor, mainly in the real estate market. A special place among his investments is the Czech media house Economia, which Zdenek owns. He sees his involvement as part of his long-standing promise to support free and independent journalism in the country.
Zdenek also follows his passion for cycling. He owns the Belgian cycling team Deceuninck – Quick-Step and has founded a cycling center of excellence at the University of Leuven.
Zdenek initiated the opening of the Aspen Institute Central Europe and supports both the Vaclav Havel Library in Prague and the Design Museum in London, where he sits on the Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the Board of Advisors at his alma mater, the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth College.
More than anything, Zdenek loves the time he spends with his wife Michaela, their four children, as well as his son from his previous marriage.