Kateřina Vrátníková comes from Pilsen. She graduated from the IES in 2012 and reached her bachelor degree, during which she also spent one year at Sorbonne in Paris thanks to Erasmus programme. Kateřina then finished her masters degree in England, at Warwick Business School.
Kateřina started to work during her bachelor studies, when she began as an editor in the economic section of idnes.cz. Thanks to her studies in France, she then also briefly worked as a consultant at the economic mission of French Embassy Ubifrance, where she helped to connect Czech and French companies. She also joined KPMG, where she worked as a business analyst in management consulting. After completing her studies, she passed short internships at ARX Equity Partners in Prague and Erste Bank in London and then she started a graduate commercial banking programme at Lloyds Banking Group. After completing this program, she worked as a business support manager for the Group CEO and now is a senior strategy manager in Group Strategy.
In her free time, Kateřina likes to discover new places in London, play golf and sing in the choir.
Kateřina, after the IES you graduated from Warwick Business School. How much did the way of teaching differ? Have you been well prepared for this, or is there something you would like to focus more when studying at the IES?
I really enjoyed my time at the IES and it most definitely gave me a great basis to anything I have been doing since then. A Master degree packed into one year can be a pretty intense one, and the year at Warwick Business School was definitely challenging, but having strong foundations in mathematics, econometrics and micro and macroeconomics, as well as a good studying discipline from the IES really helped me and allowed me to focus on the new learnings for which I came to Warwick. In addition, being used to study, read and write in English was also a great advantage.
Apart from slightly different structure of the academic year, I would say that there was a bit more focus on project and team work, which formed a significant part of some of the courses’ final marks and is a great preparation for any future career.
You did several internships at various positions at KPMG or at ARX Equity Partners. What did the positions bring you, did it help you to choose you the right career path?
I think that internships and work experiences are a great way to try many different things, gain valuable skills and experiences, start building a network and also learn a bit more about what one might or might not enjoy doing. I also found them were helpful in making me more comfortable with and confident in job interviews. I tried to do many different things, but all somehow related to economics, finance or business - from journalism, to organisation of business conferences, banking, consulting and private equity. Every job helped me shape my thinking about my desired career path, but also taught me that you need to keep an open mind, especially in a rapidly changing world. Three and half years ago I thought I would be a corporate banker for the rest of my career, but then different opportunities appeared and although they were probably not completely in line with my original plan, but they were definitely worth exploring. And in my current job, I use all the skills I have learned in my previous work experiences.
How did you get to Lloyds Bank? Is it possible to take an interview for an English bank from Prague?
I returned to Prague after completing my Masters and was applying for positions both in Prague and on Graduate schemes primarily in commercial banking in London. I particularly liked the one in Lloyds Bank as it offered four placements across different areas of commercial banking and thus a great learning opportunity.
The application process is typically run online, including numerical and analytical tests you sometimes need to complete, and first interviews were done on the phone or via Skype in any case. I believe today even the later stages of the process can be run remotely. Most companies then sponsor a trip for any face-to-face interviews or assessment days and I never had any issue with having to travel from Prague. I think as long as they see the right skills, drive and fit in people, they don’t care that much where you are applying from.
You are currently working as a senior strategy manager. What do you exactly do at this position? What is your job description?
In Group Strategy, we are responsible for shaping the overall strategic direction of Lloyds Banking Group, this includes preparation of the Group’s strategic plans (which will be the main part of my job for next year as we will be drafting plan for 2021 to 2023) and various specific pieces of analysis that help the senior leadership, executives and the CEO make important decisions. We also act as internal consultancy, so we are often invited to run strategic reviews of parts of our business. It is a greatly varied job, not only because Lloyds Banking Group’s business spans across retail and commercial banking, consumer finance and insurance. It definitely keeps me on my toes and ensures I continuously learn new things and skills.
What about you and Brexit? Will it affect you?
Brexit... It finally looks like it will happen now! Hopefully the only real effect it will have on me is bit more admin I have to go through - I had to apply for a settled status and will be looking into applying for a citizenship perhaps a bit faster than I would have if Brexit hadn’t been on the horizon. I luckily work for a company with UK focus and 97% of business generated in the UK, so my job will definitely not be relocated.
I don’t think that London will lose its importance in the world of finance and financial services - the nature and types of jobs might change, but that’s more in line with the shifts happening in the industry more broadly, than due to Brexit.
What do you do in your free time?
London is a great city and there is so much to do all the time! I still enjoy exploring the city, visiting various exhibitions, concerts and theatre pieces. I have managed to continue in some of my old hobbies - I volunteered with a children’s choir helping them run the rehearsals and am hoping to restart singing with an adult choir in the New Year. I like to play golf, and I also try to keep fit, well needed with an office job! :)