Ladislav Bárta comes from Cesky Krumlov and graduated from the IES in 2009. Then he continued in Switzerland at the University of St. Gallen, where he finished in 2012 with a master's degree. He studied abroad already during his high school, when he spent a year at Rangitoto College in New Zealand, or during his bachelor studies, when he spent a semester in Umeå, Sweden.
During his studies, he worked as a consultant at Ernst & Young, where he worked in Transaction Advisory Services. Thanks to this, he has passed the CFA tests and has come to appreciate almost everything from financial derivatives, through customer portfolios and cutter loaders to O2 arena. After his graduation at St. Gallen he joined ČEZ as a Specialist in the Corporate Development team, where he took part in determining the strategic direction of the whole CEZ Group. In 2014 Láďa became the leader of the innovation team, which developed new products and services.
In his free time, Ladislav likes riding bike uphill or long distance, riding a motorcycle in Asia, going anywhere by cabriolet or drinking beer.
You studied in Switzerland, you work in the Czech Republic. What made you come back home? Usually, the graduates of foreign schools are staying abroad ...
Nothing made me return to the Czech Republic, however I did not see the reason to stay abroad. I went to Switzerland to have the best education and to learn something new. Before that, I studied in New Zealand and Sweden. All these countries are among those officially "best for life". Having the chance to live there was a great opportunity, but I never felt it would be better than in the Czech Republic.
What surprised you the most when studying in Switzerland?
I was not surprised. The studies were much more demanding than at the IES, I had to work much harder. But at the same time I did not have any deficit compared to the other students, I was well prepared thanks to the IES’s Bachelor.
For some time, you have been working in CEZ, during the last years as the head of innovation. What is the key issue in this field of business? What specifically did you managed?
Energy industry is changing a lot now, there is a lot of pressure to shift away from fossil fuels and to reduce consumption. In this context, we have dealt with two main themes in innovations: (1) which new technologies could affect our commodity core business and how to respond to it and (2) where could we expand our activities beyond traditional commodity sales. We had a really wide range of activities from a pilot installation of a new type of small hydropower plant to an investment in the Amsterdam Startup Accelerator.
Ladislav, you work at Rohlík.cz now. This is not quite a typical employer of IES graduates. What brought you here?
Here I will correct you, the company is called Velká Pecka :). You know how it is in a corporation, you are moving a huge boat, which is great, but it is very slow, which is frustrating. When I led the department of innovation at CEZ, we started to watch the startups closely. It was time to stop watching them at the conferences and get familiar with them personally. I am extremely excited about Rohlík.cz being already a big company (last year, 1bn CZK of revenues, this year heading to 2bn CZK), but we still have start-up flexibility and courage. I had 2 people in my team in July, I switched positions and am responsible for 400 employees today. I can call the CEO/main shareholder any time when I feel we should do something different and we go for it right then. Where else is this possible?
Do you use your experience or school knowledge here?
At the IES you learn calculus, logical thinking and how to work hard when needed. This is useful everywhere. I enjoyed studying at the IES and in St.Gallen, it was a good intellectual challenge. But already at school I knew I did not want to work on things that I had studied there.
In the free time you do the cycling, but also ride a motorcycle. You ride even relatively long distances, or in non-standard conditions. Which trip was the most interesting for you and what would you like to achieve in the future?
I do not really do the cycling too much, but a few times a year, I grab a bike and make some bigger trip. I went by bike with a bunch of friends from the Czech Republic to Venice or to Croatia to the sea, always with all the equipment. We slept outdoor, where possible. For the last 2 years, I've also been riding the VltavaRun by bike, the same route at the same time as the run is held. At the motorbike Indian Himalayas were the prettiest by far. I was really excited with this experience. Next adventure of this kind will probably also be in some of the more remote parts of Asia.