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UnitedLife 02

Interview with Monika Céreová (J&T)


Vladimír Orth
United Group, s.r.o. ׀ founder & CEO
Bratislava, Slovakia

Who am I?

• I am a representative of J&T Finance Group for which I have been working since 1996.
• I am one of the founding member of J&T Finance Group.
• In 1998 I was in the acquisition of Podnikateľská banka in Czech Republic which became J&T BANKA.
• In 2006 I established J&T BANKA in Slovakia. I was a direcor of bank of till next years and now I am a vice-president of J&T.
• During my leadership in J&T Bank we established well-known and respected private bank on the market with more than 10 thousand clients and interesting market share in the most affluent sector.

1. What does your job mean to you?

   My job? It’s what I enjoy.
I have always had a close connections with banking. Shortly after finishing the university I started working for J & T, it was a business with stocks at that time, now it is the successful private bank and big finance holding. My job became my hobby too. I am convinced that to give the best performance it is inevitable to find a hobby in your work. I held the position of J & T Bank director for many years, at present I am a vicepresident of J & T Group and I am confronted with new tasks which are challenge for me every day. I travel a lot, get to know new people and I am still gaining valued experiences which move me forward in my life.

2. Which career were you dreaming about when you finished the university?

   I have always wanted to do what fills me, what has a meaning and what I enjoy and just then you can be better and successful in that what you do. Then you do not look at time which you spend working, because it is something what you could do all the time. But after finishing the university I did not have an idea that in the end I will be a banker. It is important to find your place in life with you feel at „home“, where you are better than an average and to go that way. And at the same time you cant forget to work on yourself, to move forward and have new challenges in front of you so you dont get stuck in a same place and that seems to work for me at this time.

 3. What is your opinion on the saying „money spoils the character“?

   Unfortunately, I have to agree partly. However, despite of that I know lots of successful people, who are gratefull for their jobs and had achieved much, which has of course reflected on their incomes. However, they managed to stay true to themselves. Money definitely makes our life pleasant but the real life is about other values. But many people do not realize this fact, and only find out that money doesnt buy everything when they loose somebody or something of a ‚real‘ value.

4. Do you think it is possible to build up a country which is similar to Switzerland in Slovakia?

   In my life I follow the principle that nothing is impossible. Slovakia is a small country indeed, but with a big potential. To become the „second“ Switzerland will be however very long and demanding journey, where it will be inevitable to approach many fundamental system changes, anticorrupt measures and many other interventons. Without them, future Slovakia will still remain at the stage from before establishing the republic, so at the level of promises and wishes.

5. What is in your opinion the difference among poor, the middle class and rich people? What does differentiate them in principle?

   Thereby that J & T Bank is aimed at private banking and it can be said at the richest people in the country, so I personally know very well couple of them. And I have to say that in general it is very enriching to talk to them about their opinions of a life, their hobbies, ways how they came to success and wealth. And as the wealth I mean not only the amount of money on the bank account, but mainly the life experiences, what they had to go through in life to be here today and who they are. The rich peple surely have more opportunities, they can afford a more comfortable life, they can secure more quality education for their children or health care which is above the standard. The poor or middle class people often cannot afford all this things and certainly not to extend. Money is however only the mean to a more pleasant life and it does not say nor it is a guarantee of happiness or satisfaction of the human.

6. In your opinion is the development and origin of finance groups in Slovakia unique from the view of surrounding countries?

   The origin of finance groups in Slovakia is mainly connected to the times of privatisation. Their existence in this country compared with the situation abroad is nothing unusual. It was a group of young people who were not afraid to start a business shortly after „gentle revolution“ when the business was very unknown word for many people who were living for a long time in socialism. On our territory people look at finance groups „through fingers“ and they perceive them sort of negative. However, the fact is, that they have an impact on our economy, they employ lots of people, pay not little taxes and last but not least they invest in development in our country.

7. Do you think it is possible to help others by changing their thinking?

   Certainly yes, but you will never change somebody who does not want to be changed. I am convinced that the whole life is based on internal setting of the human, his psychic and thinking. We can not influence certain things but to think positive is the basis for human satisfaction. Very important is the feedback, man should always have somebody who can direct him or show him another way. In this direction the most important role play our parents, friends or partners. As the part of the primary social group they influence our thinking perhaps the most and so they can help us.

8. Is it in your opinion possible that admiration will overcome envy one day?

   I believe in it :-). Even though one of the not very flattering traits of Slovaks is already the envy and the looking at what somebody else has compared to me. I think that with time there will be a shift towards better in this direction. There are still more successful people in Slovakia who can and should be an example to us. I believe that one time it will be so.

9. Can the leader as the personality be irreplaceable in the company?

   From the general-economic view every human is replaceable. Not every manager in business will however also become the natural leader. Leadership is something what the person has to have in himself, what he has to be born with. From this point of view leaders play a very important role in the company leadership and thus they are certainly more difficult to replace, but in my opinion they are certainly not irreplaceable.

10. If you had a magic wand and one wish, what would you wish for?

   To only have happy and smiling people around me. And I believe that in a short time this wish will come true for real;)

Vladimír Orth


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