Success Stories: Alena Friedel
HR Manager, Volvo Group Czech Republic
Please, tell us something about you, what post do you recently hold?
Actually, I hold two posts. In 2007 I took up the post of the HR manager for the Czech Republic, at that time we had about 100 employees, later we established new services and in 2012 we managed to merge with Renault. Recently, we have 370 employees and 15 services.
At the end of 2014 our region was divided into two new regions, so in 2015 I became an HR Director of the Central East Region which had primary consisted of 14 countries, later it was joined by Austria to its recent 15 countries. I also worked as an HR Manager for the Czech Republic.
Can You briefly describe your professional career?
After my graduation I taught at the high school; then I worked in the field of finances; wages; economic consulting; accountancy for companies and financial advice; later I started to focus on the HR where I have been working up to these days. So now it is 20 years since I began to work in the HR. I find my work interesting and diverse, rather more than an ordinary paperwork. Even though human development, communication, and work with people seem the hardest tasks, it is surely the most interesting work for me. Our company is more and more taking into account people, even in the business, business is made up of people – that's why we are always talking about people, we want to have the best stuff to be a successful company. And there is still something new to learn, we are still facing new challenges.
How long have you been working for the company?
It has been 9 years since I began to work there.
What is the most interesting milestone in your career? What post or rank...
Certainly, it is my recent post. The post which I have been holding up to 9 years now. Previously, I changed 4 jobs in 2 years. I didn’t even mean it, but there was always somebody to offer me a job. That also naturally helped me to move forward.
What is your greatest achievement/achievements during your career?
I have implemented a bonus system in one company functional up to these days and many projects for Volvo since there are always new challenges. Since the successful merger of companies Volvo and Renaut we are now managing the whole region to guarantee uniform processes regarding new benefits; bonus systems; sales processes; etc..
Were there many differences between individual states?
Some countries have many benefits, others almost none, so we decided to work on their unification.
What is the most important project/task you are facing now? Of course, only if you can talk about it (laugh).
The most critical task? It is a continual active work with people; human development and stabilization; because not only in the Czech Republic but also in the Slovak Republic or Hungary the labor market is so demanding, therefore if we have the competent staff we must take care of them, not only of their personal development but also of their motivation. Let them feel satisfied and enjoy their work.
Take, for example, the Czech Republic which has a really great team. We have services throughout the whole Czech Republic and it is great our individual subsidiaries help and cooperate with each other. Our business culture is, therefore, of the top quality.
“It certainly gave me a lot, I enjoyed the variety of subjects and acquired much knowledge. I have also met very interesting people.”
What do education and personal development mean to you? Why do you think further education is so important?
One cannot just stagnate and stay passive. Time is changing, evolving. The world is changing so we have to constantly improve our knowledge. There are still newer and newer technologies, for instance, our mechanics working with trucks have to constantly undergo training to be able to make the latest models of trucks/engines. Also our other workers. For instance, since Austria joined us (as I mentioned previously), I began to learn German. Time and circumstances are changing rapidly and one must respond adequately.
Why did you decide to continue your studies? And why at the LIGS University?
I wanted to study an MBA program long before, but there was never a right time to start so I permanently postponed it. Then I saw your advertisement, visited your website and realized it is exactly what I am looking for. My husband supported me so I went for it. However, I didn’t know about the following merger of Volvo and Renault. That’s fine, because if I had known it, I would have probably postponed it again. (laugh)
How do you find the study at our university? How did it enhance Your knowledge?
It certainly gave me a lot, I enjoyed the variety of subjects and acquired much knowledge. The study also involved writing of essays I personally found really hard since you have to think about various issues. I have also met very interesting people and I often think back about that great times.
What subject/field do you find the most contributive/interesting? Simply put, what did you enjoy the most during your studies?
Finances. In pursuance of the finances, I did a case study, I analyzed the company I had once kept accounts for from the financial point of view. It was interesting.
And definitely some other subjects such as Law or Banking, since in my practice I usually don’t meet with the banking. And also the HR.
What was the most practical knowledge acquired during your studies?
Presentation skills and also one subject, I cannot recall its name. We did interviews shoot them on the camera for their later analysis.
You probably mean Crisis Communication...
Yes, that’s exactly what I mean. Our lecturer was a really strict woman (laugh) since we have to actively participate in all discussions, to argue about the chosen topic – who didn’t participate, later failed. It was so exciting.
Also, Mrs. Markéta Hinková was gorgeous. I could name many other high- quality subjects. Even though I am still working on various projects, I am doing it my own way so I guess this subject was the most demanding for me.
Also Banking, I even have to rewrite my work. (laugh)
What is the aim in your life?
I want to have a decent living I needn’t be ashamed of. To look back once and say it was a good life.
I want to raise well-mannered children and be contributive for my company. Just to enjoy my life and work hard. These are really tough questions! (laugh)
I found it really important to have everything in balance – my family and work. Without my functional family and supportive husband, I would never be so successful in my work. Since I travel a lot, spend a lot of time at work and often work in the evenings, it is really important to feel the support. It would never work without it. Thus, in turn, I am supportive of my husband every time he needs it. For instance, he is recently in Sweden so when he’ll return home, I will be abroad, we would miss each other, therefore we share our work schedules and support each other, that’s really great, I think.