“Being happy is the most important thing in my life”

Posted on 09/08/2021, Teodora Stojšin

Interview with Michal Hlaváč, Product/Business Analysis Team Lead

Michal Hlaváč, our Product/Business Analysis Team Lead is originally from Slovakia but he has also studied and worked in Belgium, The Netherlands, Czechia, and now Spain. He left Kiwi.com for Uber in Amsterdam in 2019 and returned to Kiwi.com in Barcelona in 2021. We talked with him to hear what motivated him to rejoin Kiwi.com, what challenges and learnings he experienced in the meantime, but also to learn what inspires him, what makes him happy, and so on.

Hi Michal, could you tell us something about yourself? 

Hi Tea, sure! I am Michal, a guy who enjoys sports, mountains, traveling, and music festivals. I am out there looking for snow to ski almost all year long 🙂 Since the start of my university time in Czechia, I have been living abroad. A Business Intelligence course that I took during Erasmus studies in Belgium motivated me to focus on the data and analytics area. I found a part-time job as a Business Intelligence developer in AVG Technologies (now Avast), back in Czechia, and continued in a full-time role after finishing my degree. 

After a few years in a developer position, I have joined Kiwi.com as a data analyst to be closer to insights and business decisions. As the team grew, I took on a team lead responsibility in the pricing and competition area. While I enjoyed my job, I decided to challenge myself even more and try another shift in my career, a role in Strategy & Planning, and in life, relocation to Amsterdam. I have joined Uber, even though I really missed the Kiwi.com family. I remember telling Lucka, my manager back then, that I will probably come back later anyway. And I did, on April 1st this year,  I rejoined Kiwi.com! 🙂

What made you leave Kiwi.com in the first place?

I didn’t plan to leave Kiwi.com, but the opportunity I was offered was hard to ignore. Many factors played a role in why. One of the biggest reasons was the role itself. I was curious what working in Strategy & Planning really is as I correctly assumed it is even closer to business and facilitates a higher-level view on company operations compared to an analytics role. Also the idea of working for Uber, one of the biggest tech companies, was very exciting.

I bet you learnt so many things in the meantime! Were your reasons and goals for leaving accomplished?

Yes, I have learned a lot. One thing is that every change brings us to a different environment, different company culture, a different set of responsibilities. That can only enrich us and make us more adaptable. Another thing comes from the specifics of my role at Uber, as the company structure is much more complex and interconnected, one has to learn how to navigate it and how to provide relevant information to colleagues in different positions. Clear communication and business acumen are the most important skills I have improved.

How did you make the decision to come back?

Even though I learned a lot and it was an enriching experience, my role at Uber was not the right one for me. I felt I was not using my full potential and didn’t bring as much value as I did in my previous positions. So I started looking for a new call where I can use my skills, and I am happy it worked just with Kiwi.com. But it wasn’t without a proper hiring process – I had to pass technical and social rounds to prove I am the right candidate. It was both the same old and brand new for me. I jumped into a different and quite specific area of Consumer Product analytics with a lot of challenges that need to be tackled. Also I had the option to work from our Barcelona office, which is for me a great place to live. Of course, I already knew the Kiwi.com culture, which I was really looking forward to being a part of again. So the combination of these three was a clear sign that my comeback is a good idea.

How was your adaptation to the Kiwi environment after your short break?

The adaptation was very smooth, as the culture I loved before is still there – very open, honest and friendly. So it is a great fit and familiar environment for me. Also, I was in contact with my former colleagues so I was up to date both from the outside and inside of Kiwi.com. The biggest help to re-adapt was my team – the welcome was very warm. One of the changes I see after the 2 years being away is that Kiwi.com is getting more organised, which is great for the company. It brings a little more overhead, but that is balanced by enabling better prioritization and focus on what really matters.

What are the biggest challenges at work right now?

Building the team is the most important and probably the biggest challenge for me right now. It includes both hiring new team members and also set us up for success internally – I need to define our scope, find blind spots, create, optimize and automate processes. Of course, having correctly defined and calculated metrics and reliable AB testing infrastructure is crucial for us all the time.

Is the Covid 19 pandemic affecting your work and how?

I used to prefer coming to the office, meeting people in person, and discussing things at a desk when they come up, so it was hard for me to adapt to the home office at the beginning of the pandemic. The blurry boundaries between work and home were and sometimes still are a challenge for me. It’s getting better as the offices are opening up and we have the flexibility now that allows us to choose what is best for us. When I need to focus or travel, I can work from home, but most of the time I am opting for the office.

What are some things in life that you are the proudest of?

I would like to connect proud and grateful in my answer. I am proud of my professional journey so far. I have gained experience from different positions that provide a bigger picture of the data and insights landscape and are all important for a role in analytics. At the same time I am very grateful for having the opportunity to experience all of it, and to my managers, colleagues, friends and family, for their support.

Who or what is your inspiration?

I am finding inspiration simply in people who are excellent at what they do. It can be anything: art, sports, leadership, problem-solving. What I admire most about other people, and what many areas require for someone to be successful, is the ability to improvise and adapt to change. Being able to look at a task at hand from a different perspective has always been an inspiration for me. And looking for inspiration outside of my area of expertise is often even more enriching because instead of details, I can focus on general ideas and thinking behind the decisions.

And the last question for today, what is the most important thing for you in your life?

The short answer is being happy. For me, that includes having great people around me, being able to find time for sports and travel, and having challenging work that’s also fun. To be challenged and also to be able to relax with friends and family is of the same importance to me – it is a great balance for a happy life.

Are you ready to boost your career with us and work with Michal? Check out our open positions and apply today!