Colleagues can become smitten with each other even years later, says the pair brought together by Wunderman

When you run into Zorka Čapkova in the hallway, you may feel a little nervous. As Account Director, she comes across as strict, but when you get to know her better, you find out what she’s holding back.

When I came to Wunderman a year ago, and ran into her in the hall a few times, her expression made me say to myself “Oh well, we seem to have one decidedly unfriendly colleague here. I had no idea at the time how mistaken I was. The better I get to know her, the more I see how wonderful, open, hard-working, sensitive and empathic she can be.

And it was exactly the same with her husband, Zdeňek, who is head of the programming department at Wunderman.

Both have worked here for years and still remember Wunderman as a small company. They have gone through different positions, departments, and are definitely among those for whom Wunderman is an affair of the heart. What to add? At Wunderman, they found one another, and today they have a daughter Karin, together.

Read our double interview to find out things you never had any idea of about them. Personally, they taught me one thing – when you feel like you just can’t connect with someone, give it time and don’t force it. Time and various life situations will help things along…
What was your path through Wunderman? Do you still remember what Wunderman was like back then?
Zora: In August 2007, I was interviewed by Karel Duchek and in September I joined as account manager in the data team working for O2. After a month, I moved to the position of account director in the MARCOM team, working for O2. After five years, the client left all the agencies, so I took care of clients such as Nokia, ING and other smaller ones. After that, I went maternity leave.

I watched the company grow, but the biggest jump happened while I was involved in our joint project, our daughter Karin. My return to Smichov happened in 2015, as the head of the Labstore agency. With a small break in between, I then moved from Smíchov to MSC, where after almost a year I returned to Wunderman Core. And so the circle closes 😊. Today I’m part of Jarda Novák’s team, responsible for delivery, that is, everything necessary to a functional team – capacities, finances, process … whatever.

Zdeněk: I started in November 2008, and at the time I was the only project manager for all online projects. Wunderman had just one floor, and everyone knew each other; you could say it was a family company. Then the online business took off, and I rode that wave all the way to where I am now.

Do you collaborate on any projects, or do you not work together at all? What is it like when you have a difference of opinions at work; do you bring it home with you?
Zora: We don’t work together directly on projects, but we do have disagreements, and yes, certain differences of opinion are echoed at home as well. And it doesn’t really matter how you imagine that 🙂

Zdeněk: Mostly, we don’t meet, and when we do, then we act with the utmost professionalism. Often, I say to myself, if an impartial observer was watching, he would have no idea we were husband and wife, or that we even knew each other. When we get into a difference of opinion, we always reach some solution. We both want to resolve the issue, not argue or negate each other’s point of view, which doesn’t lead anywhere. So, some kind of solution always comes out of it that is good for both sides.

Do you manage to keep your personal lives and work separate, or do you talk about work even at home, after dinner?
Zdeněk: We don’t discuss work issues at home, we only talk about people from work, just like it would be if we both worked in different places. Only, we both know these people. Or we talk about problems at work that are different for each of us.
You met at work and became a couple. What attracted you to each other back then?
Zora: The expression “back then” is quite accurate, because it’s soon going to be 9 years ago. Anyway, I can’t describe what it was exactly, but we both know which meeting it happened at somehow, because we’d been working together almost a year and there was no spark between us. And then one day you’re discussing free SIM distribution and suddenly it feels like something has changed.

Zdeněk: It was the fact that she’s just as terrible as I am, and can be both my partner and competitor. She’s reliable, and puts herself into everything she does 100 %

Don’t you sometimes get on each other’s nerves, when you see each other at work every day and then at home in the evening?
Zora: NO, we enjoy being together, and we don’t run into each other that often. We have lunch together only about 5 times per year.

Zdeněk: We almost never run into each other at work. We don’t even commute to or from work together, because of household arrangements and Karin. If we end up commuting to work together 1 day in the week, it’s like a holiday. So, no, we don’t get on each other’s nerves.

Do you have similar personalities, or are you both different? Which character trait of the other’s would you like to have?
Zora: We’re similar, sometimes almost too alike, both born under the sign of Leo, both fast moving. Zdeněk is definitely more the architect and planner of our life together. He is certainly better at separating work life from personal life, which I have a hard time doing, and I don’t always manage to leave my work at the door when I come home.

Zdeněk: I think we’re both equally terrible, and that’s why we’re together, as a mutual punishment 😊 I don’t have the same empathy that Zorka has, and that is her worst trait.

You got married after a very long time. Who first mentioned the word wedding?
Zora: Our life planner. Ideas like wedding, child, those are his 🙂

Zdeněk: I did. It was logical next step in our relationship – that’s a dumb phrase. Simply put, I just wanted it that way 😊.

Which of you is the stricter at home? What is your parenting approach to your daughter? Are you strict or are you more the benevolent type of parents?
Zora: We are definitely strict parents, and sometimes we think it’s not very easy for Kar with us. Fortunately, she seems to be of the same mettle, and our life style and pace suits her. She’s already starting to outpace us in planning and organizing.

Zdeněk: I do not think we have a benevolent approach to parenting. I don’t think our child’s got it easy with us, but then neither do we with her. 😊 „Sometimes it seems to me like she’s the one bringing us up. My approach is very similar to the one I take with my guys at work (my colleague Dasa, who’s a part of our team, will surely forgive me, but I kind of take her as one of my guys too). Basically, there are some boundaries that we set and as long as everything stays within these, there’s no problem. But if things get out of hand, it’s necessary to talk about it and explain why we’ve gone too far and how to learn from it. But I only explain twice. Then I get angry. 😊

Between work, a child and family, there’s not much time left for hobbies, but nevertheless, what do you enjoy doing in your free time?
Zora: We spend our free time together. I started running this year, and that’s my time away from it all.

Zdeněk: We all have our hobbies, even if I do more so than Zorka, who unfortunately has little time for hers. We try to spend all of our free time together, and then it doesn’t matter to us what we’re doing. We enjoy travelling and going hiking, and we like to ski…

Zorka, you’ve been through the Czech division of Wunderman, but also the global MSC. What are the advantages of each, and what have they given you?
Zora: The great thing about the MSC part of the company is that everything is in English, which was definitely a great benefit for me. I see it as an advantage that you never end up having to meet in person with a client unexpectedly, because planning business trips and flights is not that easy. On the other hand, working for local clients sometimes involves these surprises. Getting to know people in person and resolving whatever is needed eye to eye is a big plus in the Core part of Wunderman. And that is what I enjoy about it.

Wunderman has grown a lot over the past few years. You were present at its transformation into a big agency. What is the agency like today, in your opinion?
Zora: Even though the agency is bigger, I’m still working with people who I’ve known the whole time, so I don’t feel the change so much. It’s just the processes that now complicate what used to be simple decisions, but I can live with that. It’s no different anywhere else.

Zdeněk: Well, there are more of us, but I enjoy meeting new people, so I don’t have a problem with it. And it doesn’t seem to me that the original atmosphere has changed much.

You both lead teams. Zorka, you come across as very strict, but those who know you, know that you are very human, kind and empathic. What, in your opinion, is the most difficult thing about managing people? What kind of behavior can really get your hackles up?
Zora: I’m very nice, even at first glance 😊 Nothing is difficult. It’s all about communication, and it should not matter where you find yourself on the organizational chart. What gets me angry is when people are too lazy to think and learn.

Zdenek, you manage the programmers. During the time you’ve been here, the team has changed a lot. What type of management approach do you prefer? You’re known for your specific sense of humor – does it get you into precarious positions sometimes?
Zdeněk: The team has changed because guys who’ve been here 7 and more years left. They simply wanted to try doing something else, whether that was going into business for themselves or working with new technologies. But I know they faced difficult internal struggles with giving their notices and leaving. For example, some had their resignations written for two years. 😊 They were simply hesitant about leaving here.

I don’t have any preferred management style, or any perfected approach to people. I try to tell them the truth and say things as they are, and I expect the same from them. The truth hurts sometimes, and sometimes there are even tears – but that’s life. Maybe it could be said that it’s the carrot and stick method, but that could be misleading. I’m actually more like their dad/mom, or preschool teacher. My humor doesn’t get me into any precarious situations, more likely is that it gets others into those situations 😊, and that I enjoy.

 If you were to name three of the most fundamental things that you have learned here at Wunderman, what would they be?
Zora: After all this time here, it’s difficult to separate out what I’ve learned here, and what the passage of time has taught me. But I definitely know that only respect and truth works – towards clients and colleagues, and even more so when you want something from them, like money or overtime. 😊

Zdeněk: Over the 10 years that I’ve been here, I’ve learned a lot, but I cannot think of anything specific that fundamentally changed who I am. Mainly, it’s been new things in my field.

 If you could thank someone here, what would you thank them for?
Zora: Karel Duchek, for hiring me and for being here (note: Executive Director Karel Duchek died last year in the fall, at the age of 48. He worked at Wunderman for 18 years, and filled us with optimism to the end, despite his serious illness).

Zdeněk: There are many I would like to thank, but clearly Karel, for being who he was and for his approach to life, people and work. He was a very calming influence.

What do you like about Wunderman? And what do you sometimes struggle with?
Zora: The people here (including the clients) – that’s what I enjoy here. I fight administrative work, and I’m not winning, and I’ll probably never win.

Zdeněk: People. Because the people here make Wunderman what it is and how I like it. My struggle is with people, those who do not follow the established processes and are lazy 😊 I understand that we all have our limits, but when I know that some people really have more potential and do not use this potential, that really bothers me.

Also, I like that here things get resolved, and not just left to fester. It seems to me that the people in management really care about the company, that it’s not foreign to them, and they are not indifferent to what will happen. Likewise, they care about their people, the company spends a lot of money on the training and development of people, which you don’t see everywhere.

 Are you looking for any new members for your teams?
Zora: At the moment, we don’t have any open positions.
Zdeněk: Exceptionally, I’m not looking for anyone just now.

If you’d like to work with us, have a look at overview of open positions at Wunderman. We’ll be happy to see you.

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