Phenomenal Women of AltoPartners – Veronika Kaštovská
Armed with a master’s degree in adult education from Jan Amos Komensky University in Prague, Veronika Kaštovská, a partner and senior consultant for the Accord Group, AltoPartners East and Central Europe, tells why she gave up a career in physiotherapy for executive search.
Why executive search?
Every day is different, every person you meet can influence you and open other points of view, and you have the opportunity to learn about different sectors and industries. I also get enormous satisfaction from helping clients and candidates find their perfect match.
Did you choose executive search, or did it choose you?
Like many in this field, I entered the industry by accident. I trained as a physiotherapist and was working in a hospital, helping people recover mobility post-surgery. I was also taking care of soldiers returning from the Yugoslavian war. After that, I wanted to try something different, and I had my sights set on the ICT sector. The HR Director of my former employer introduced me to the Accord Group. As the executive recruitment industry was relatively new to our region (eastern central Europe), I had no clue what it was about. I took the plunge, and it was very tough initially. In the early years, I even considered an opportunity on the client’s side. But, after some soul searching, I realised that I valued the freedom that comes from working for yourself and being responsible for your own decisions, even if it meant also being responsible for your successes and failures.
How did you make it happen?
I’ve spent almost my entire professional life with the Accord Group, helping to set up offices in Poland and Hungary. I learned the industry from scratch: starting in research (long before Google or LinkedIn), I spent lots of time talking to people and listening. Mostly I learned through trial and error and grew into the Consultant and Partner roles. I was lucky enough to be supported by my family on one side and great colleagues on the other. Being part of AltoPartners has also allowed me to travel and meet and cooperate with colleagues from different countries. Apart from the joy of travel, it has helped me tremendously in my professional growth. It is also tremendously energising to be surrounded by like-minded people who are similarly motivated! These days, I love being surrounded by Millennials – I love their energy and willingness to find and use new tools to identify the perfect candidate.
Did you have a mentor? What was the best piece of advice you ever got?
I have had several mentors in my career, including previous bosses, colleagues, and even some clients. Best piece of advice? At the start of my career, it had to be: “If you don’t ask, you won’t get”, and, as I get older, I increasingly appreciate the wisdom of “less talking and more listening”. This is more and more important.
What advice would you have for your younger self?
Travel! Spread your wings. Working in different countries is a wonderful way to learn about cultures and industries. Be hungry for new opportunities and stay open to new ideas.
Who has been your main inspiration to date, and why?
Elon Musk, for his innovative ideas and single-minded determination; my boss, Jana Martin, for her rational approach and strong goal-orientated work ethic; my husband, for always providing different points of view and for knowing when to stay silent; and my children, for bringing joy and balance to my life.
Veronika specialises in executive placement in the FMCG, ICT, finance, life sciences and pharmaceutical sectors across East and Central Europe. She is based in Prague.