Work trip around the world? Can be done in 14 days, recalls Tomáš Lojka

When you pass around Tomáš Lojka in the corridor, he seems incredibly modest and you can’t tell at all that he runs great international projects. And that he’s one of the very few people that had the chance to grab some lunch with the Wunderman founder, Lester Wunderman. Or that he has done a work trip around the world in just 14 days.

You celebrated 7 years in Wunderman just a few weeks ago. You came here after college and now you run big international projects. Describe your journey through Wunderman.

I started working here right after school. When I was studying I worked part-time in IBM so I had certain working habits. I was lured to Wunderman (or specifically to it’s global department MSC) by a global position for Microsoft. I went to work the day after my state exam.

I was lucky to have great managers and colleagues so the first 6 to 8 months was a very steep learning curve – I just had to learn on the go. I’m grateful especially to Mirek Křivánek with whom I’m working again nowadays.

But something unexpected happened…
Yeah, that’s true. I’m a lucky person my whole life so right after a while working here I had won Wunderman’s photo contest. I got a flight ticket to New York to have a lunch with the Wunderman founder – Lester Wunderman. And while I was in the States, I joined a global project in Seattle. That project was very successful, yet again thanks to the incredible people around me, so it was inevitable to move to US for a longer period of time.

How were your beginnings in Seattle?
Really complicated, especially the first trips to the States. And on the top of that, all sorts of unlikely mishaps happen to me – cancelled flights, cancelled hotels, airport strikes etc. Nontheless, from a work point of view, I wasn’t moving alone. My manager (now a leader of Wunderman/MSC in Prague) Michael Schindler got there a few months earlier which made it a bit easier for me. I focused on a global and centralizing projects in which we created „governance models“ for Microsoft homepage for all countries where Microsoft operates.

How do you see all this today?
I was lucky to have colleagues who were willing to share their experience so I usually ended up working within very exposed global projects. Thanks to that I visited a lot of countries, met and collaborated with different cultures. And that’s the thing that enriches you the most, I think. It forces you to be humble and understanding.

I won’t forget the 14 day long trip around the world when we worked 3 days in Manila, 6 days in Delhi, then we moved to Prague for 4 days, quickly moved to Cairo for 3 days and ended up back in Seattle.

Seattle became my second home. When I was there last year for a short while, I was moved. It was a great experience, I won’t ever regret it. But at certain point I had a feeling that I can’t move any further and learn anything more on my vendor position. That I’d have to work directly for Microsoft. Which would mean that coming back to the Czech republic would be incredibly complicated because international transfers within Microsoft aren’t very common. Especially for new employees.

What made you come back?
Being homesick, family and Interstellar movie 😊 – in this particular order. And like I said, I felt that work-wise I can’t learn anything else and would have to work directly for the client. And if I became a full-time Microsoft employee, I think I would never go back. That was something unimaginable for me. At one point I just got my priorities straight.

Your job in Wunderman isn’t just setting up the processes but much more. Right?
That’s exactly right. It’s not just about the processes, it’s about work organisation, system and overal mindset. When we need to deliver promised outputs to the new clients, we can’t rely on chaos. We need to set rules for communication, connections with clients, delivery cycle, reporting but also have space for improvement.

Our team helps to build the system that changes the heroic delivery under pressure, that by the way can work only for a while, to sustainable and repetetive. To put it clearly – it’s a system that everyone is happy with. You can have a very good system. But the whole system is only as good as people in it. So the right people management and hiring must go hand in hand. Our department is called Operations Readiness and Solution delivery which shows that we not only focus on preparing the whole system but also how to deliver properly to make the client happy.

Very few people know that large global projects are managed from Wunderman’s Prague office. You work for large brands like Ford, Microsoft, GSK, Shell… So you not only create webs, optimise and migrate them to modern platforms but you also create strategies, communicate with other Wunderman offices all over the world etc.
Yes, when it comes to global projects managed from Prague, we usually cooperate with other MCS Hubs – in Dhaka, Delhi, Johannesburg or Buenos Aires. In most cases we’re setting up new clients, services, teams, web migrations, platforms and everything connected to it. When you involve other MSC hub, the complexity of the delivery is greatly improved. Nontheless the cooperation with othe Wunderman offices is also very common – especially in Europe.

But everything has to has a proces otherwise there’d be chaos…
Process and system is a core and there no going around it. For some clients is a process almost a bad word. They are intentionally trying to avoid it. But they forget there is always a process – sometimes just less strict and tied up. However, that’s not all. Even a perfect process can form a perfectly made nonsense.

You take care of web migrations for big clients. What should a person, who is not fluent in marketing, imagine under this expression?
It’s a natural consequence of replatforming. As the clients are innovating their platforms, purchase new solutions, they need a partner to take care about moving the content to a new platform. These things are not technically challenging but they require quality process in the background.

If you compare Czech environment and employees with the ones from abroad, where do you see the biggest difference? You mentioned once that Czech people are still much more negative than other nationalities.
It’s, of course, a huge generalisation. However, purely drawing from a personal experience, we’re spoilsports and that’s hard to fight. On the other hand it’s good that we’re incredibly result-oriented and not excited about nicely polished half-assed result.

You’re taking care of two teams now. The Ford team just temporarily – it’s hard to deal with two teams at once.
I’m a very easygoing and consensual person and I believe that you can, at minimum, compromise with everyone. Discussion is the key. Conflict is necessary sometimes but I’m trying to avoid it as much as possible. I also believe that if you’re deeply coinvinced about something you can inspire people around you. By the was, we’re looking for someone to take over my Production Lead role in the Ford team – so if you’re interested, you can find the link to the job description below.

We´re looking for a Digital Production Lead and Process Consultant

Can you tell us 3 key advices on how to lead a team?
I’m going to mention 3 principles I try to follow. The most important thing is to dedicate time to discussion about problems of you colleagues and team leaders. It’s important to know they can talk about their issues and that someone listens to them.

Another important principle is to explain why – every time you need to explain to your colleagues why is something important, why we need to execute certain tasks, why do we deliver and prioritize. Last but not least, it’s necessary to give back all the credit you get because of the teamwork. A person who takes someone else’s merit can’t be successful long-term.

But life is not only about work. I heard you got married recently and got an interesting gift from your colleagues – a cooking course.
Yes, I recently got married to my girlfriend who managed to endure even the hard Seattle separation. She supported me all the way. And the old saying is true – behind every successful man is a strong woman. And the cooking course? I got it because of her. So that I can help her with dinner sometimes. And I promised my team that I’m going to prepare a steak for them as a reward. But that still hasn’t happened yet.

Lately there’s been a lot of talk about balancing your work and personal life. What’s your advice for work-life balance?
I’m not completely sure if you can achieve something like work-life balance. It’s very subjective. If you want to be successful in any field, you need to invest more time than the others, there’s no going around it. However, I’m trying to „clean my head“ and ideally I run to and from work. It creates a nice psychollogical divide between work and personal life.

If you’re not managing projects what are you doing in your free time?
I used to play football professionally but now I switched to bikes, ski and running. My friend showed me the beauty of night cycling so that’s the plan for this year’s long winter evenings.

What do you like about Wunderman?
It’s a very open company. Proactivity is valued. The opportunities in Wunderman are truly unspoken and you never know what’s going to happen the next day. On Tuesday’s morning you’re in Prague working for Ford, you find out there are some issues in the afternoon and on Wednesday morning you fly to Austin, Texas to work for two weeks for Dell.

Tomáš Lojka:

  • Works in Wunderman for 7 years
  • Studied at University of Economics, IT and IT management
  • Worked for Microsoft, Ford, DELL, GSK ViiV, GSK Consumer, Nestlé, Shell, Coca-Cola
  • Likes to ride a bike and ski. And runs – from and to work. Recently got married to his long-term girlfriend Sonča

Kategorie: Agentura, blog, Data, Wunderlidi, Zajímavé projekty