I graduated from law school before studying at UNYP, and I got involved in a few businesses after moving to the Czech Republic. Although I guess I have always had this entrepreneurial mindset, I was lacking in theory so I decided to go for an MBA in Business to get a bird’s eye view of business management. I chose UNYP because I wanted to get practical information from real professionals. I am grateful to Sotiris Futsis (UNYP General Manager), Andreas Antonopoulos (UNYP Rector), and William Pattisson, (former director of the UNYP MBA program), for understanding my intentions and letting me pursue a business specialization, even though my qualifications matched the LLM program that UNYP offered in collaboration with Greenwich University back then.
“Coming to Prague as a foreigner, I saw an MBA program at UNYP as an excellent opportunity for making local and international connections, and some of them grew into serious friendships.”
I worked as an internal advisor (in-house lawyer) for a development company in Russia, and I was collaborating with many real estate agents. Back then, the Russian real estate business seemed like the Wild West, and the most annoying part was the absence of professionalism. I had a similar impression from the Czech real estate market when I moved here eleven years ago, and that’s why I turned down many job offers as a company representative in the real estate industry – I wanted to work on a different level. Thanks to my UNYP MBA degree, I started an M&A consulting company with a focus on small and medium companies. At the same time, we were involved in a variety of projects, from construction and design to consulting. The economy and the real estate market were booming, and prices were going up. At that point, my partners and I finally started and ran a real estate agency under an international franchise, and that was the beginning of my journey in the residential market. After a couple of years, I saw a new opportunity and participated as a member of the core team bringing the master franchise of the USA’s biggest real estate company to the Czech Republic.
At this stage, there are not too many challenges in day-to-day transactions. Previously, the primary challenges were isolating the top priorities, identifying my strengths and weaknesses and of course building my team from scratch. As a foreigner, I had to be exceptionally professional, because it directly influenced the trust of local clients. The administrative side of this business requires serious attentiveness and profound knowledge of the law, which luckily wasn’t a problem because of my background.
Thanks to my years of experience in the real estate residential market, I discovered that we had to grow as a fund registered by the Czech National Bank, which is not the easiest way to proceed. I am a member of the Investment Committee and one of the co-founders, so for me, it’s very important to keep a hand on the pulse of every transaction real estate wise.
Right now, I see my business activities as a combination of real estate and fundraising, which is something new and somewhat challenging for me. However, I have envisaged the Fond as a clear structure since the very beginning. At this stage we focus on small real estate transactions, we do buy-outs, and the strategy is not to buy and hold, but to buy, fix and sell. We focus on buy-outs and have a substantial pipeline thanks to all our partners and customers. We have the experience and the know-how. Our next step will be to expand this project to other countries, but as one of my mentors says, “you’d better learn how to walk before you run,” so I prefer to follow this model right now. Seven years ago I was in Moscow with one of my MBA friends, and she asked me where I see myself in ten years’ time. I told her, “In ten years’ time I want to have my Fond,” but I forgot all about that discussion until we had opened and were running operations. I don’t think that you ever know what’s coming next, but if you have a big goal, it’ll take you in the right direction.
If you have the time and financial resources, do it. And as soon as you have started your MBA program, do it with total commitment. Jump in and forget about feeling tired. Of course, sometimes it can be intense – especially if you are an international student, away from home and family – but at the end of the day, it will be worth it. This experience will stay with you forever and will guide you through your career. Also, don’t forget to have fun – an MBA course is a beautiful time when you will meet many like-minded people. I was lucky to make a few very good friends during this program. I see the UNYP community as a way to open doors – we meet for alumni reunions, staying connected and keeping up with each other’s professional achievements.