Ivana Karhanová (née Šalomonová in Znojmo) and finished her Master’s studies at the IES in 2005. She began gathering work experience while a student first as a hotel desk manager and later as a financial advisor. She continued working as a financial advisor after her graduation until 2008 when she joined Czech Television as a presenter for the programs “Studio Burza” and “Investorský magazín” on CT24. She stayed at Czech TV for two years before moving to Z1 television as an editor and a presenter of economic news. When Z1 TV ceased broadcasting Ivana started her own business, the PR agency Margetroid, which serves clients in the financial and investment sector. In addition, Ivana founded a babyfriendly café called “Králík v rádiu”(“Rabbit in the Radio”) The cafe quickly found a loyal clientele, leading Ivana to open a second establishment, a childrens` playroom with bistro, in autumn 2016. Ivana devotes her free time mostly to her family and to athletic activities such as running long-distance races.
Ivana, were your studies at the Institute of Economic Studies crucial in determining the development of your career or do you think that your career would have moved in the same direction had you attended another university?
I have never thought about it. and when I tried to just now, I didn`t get very far. I don`t even want to think about it. I never look backwards in terms of what -ifs. I find it more important to perceive the opportunities in front of me and not to make up reasons not to grab them.
If you want to call having a PR agency and two cafes a “career”, then in my career, the most important thing was my desire to do things my way, and not in ways expected of me by others. Thus, it is less a question of education, but of personal courage to step out of the routine.
When I was pregnant for the first time, I was working for Tomáš Hudeček, later Mayor of Prague, when he was deputy minister. I will never forget all the advice I got about how to prepare my company for the time after my delivery. People told me I would be “out” for at least half a year. I was, however, at home only a month and the people who were showering me with advice tried to snake me out of my position at city hall.
When I was opening the café for parents and kids, people around me, all of whom who meant well, warned me it would not work. They argued that people with children do not have money. Unfortunately, nobody told me it the real difficulty would be having too small a space. Our coffee-house is full all the time which means that the quality of service is not as high as I would wish. So now we are moving to larger premises and will open a new branch.
You have worked in economic news broadcasting for TV. People may know you, for example, from Studio Burza or Investorský magazín. What was the most important thing you took away from your time in television? Which experience is the most valuable to you?
In terms of work experience, the most important work for me was at the financial multilevel, where I spent four years. These systems are relatively “severe" in that you are working on commission, and how much you earn depends on how well you do your job. This experience has been the most valuable for me until now.
Working in TV is good for your ego, and you make a lot of valuable contacts. I use this experience in my PR agency, I know how it works in the newsroom and how the reporting process works and therefore am able to offer more efficient results to our clients. We save a lot of time because we do not send badly prepared topics to the media.
Otherwise I would not overvalue the work in TV. I learned more from seemingly "inferior" jobs, regardless if it was the aforementioned financial multilevel or work in the hotel, where I was during the crises of 9/11 in 2001 and the Prague floods in 2002. I will never forget the shifts full of mess and stress, and confused guests in an overbooked hotel. Even if you're already working 24 hours, you're tired and you endlessly explain to people that the center of Prague is underwater, you can not afford to show you are exhausted. Your feelings are not important, because people expect excellent service from you and are paying for it.
Ivana you have your own businesses. You have a PR agency, but you own also a successful cafe for parents with children. How does it happen that a TV presenter becomes a businesswoman?
It was simple. Z1 TV ended one day, and I was left without a regular salary (like many times before in fact). So I carried on with the projects that I was doing in parallel with my work at television, such as media training and professional financial translations from English into Czech. One day, one of my clients needed PR services, and so the agency was born.
By that time I had founded a corporation, albeit with a different intent. I needed to optimize tax accounting, and wanted to separate part of the activities into another company. Finally, I turned it into a PR agency, and after a few months I hired my first employee, then another and another, and now we are stable with five consultants. It came in useful to have contacts from television, because I gained the first clients thanks to TV. Often it was people I had interviewed or a company where I had shot reports. The agency has celebrated six years since its inception, and we have an increasing reputation in the fields of finance and ICT services.
After the birth of my first daughter, I realized that society is not quite ready for mothers who do not want to sit with a child at home or on the playground. Maybe a patisserie or children's playground in a shopping center is acceptable for some, but I wanted to function as I was used to, albeit in a modified mode of course. And I really do not like shopping malls! So I opened my own cafe, Králík v rádiu.
I started with things I missed - a playroom with a nanny, and a kitchen, where they cook food suitable for children, but enjoyable for parents too. We do not use any prepared babyfood or industrially produced "cans" or sweets. Everything comes from fresh ingredients, with love and respect for children and parents. Our nannies are dedicated to children, and love to sing with the kids, paint with them, and so forth.
Do you have other business plans and dreams for the future?
I would like to establish a franchise concept for the café “Králík v rádiu”. And I would also like to expand my agency. But generally I do not plan too much, and take things as they come. For example, in the fall, I was looking for suitable premises for the new “Králík” café, and discovered a playroom in Vysočany in an amazing location, and lo and behold, it was for rent. From my point of view their concept was wrong, so we have adapted it to our principles (fresh food, and so forth). So in addition to my agency and Kralík, we have a bistro with a children's playroom. Six months ago I would have answered a question whether I wanted to expand these activities negatively. Therefore, you can see I am not a planner.
And last, definitely an unoriginal question which you surely get often. How do you manage the care of the family, raise children and work? Do you have any time for yourself?
It's going pretty well. The fact is that my husband is terrific, and thanks to him I can accomplish what I need to without sacrificing family time. And we are careful to make time for ourselves too. :-)