How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted your professional and personal life?
(VU) I consider the Covid-19 pandemic an ultimate and merciless change manager. It invaded our lives and changed them from the bottom up. And people simply did not have the other way, we just needed to change and accommodate. The Covid-19 pandemic taught us to be very flexible, improvise big time and make compromises.
(VŠ) Siemens Healthineers has a long history of supporting its partners in the healthcare system providing the best possible patient care. During the pandemic we worked very hard to ensure our usual high level of service and implemented our new shared purpose: We pioneer breakthroughs in healthcare. For Everyone. Everywhere. We understood that this goal became all the more important during the last months and years, with COVID-19 hitting countries globally.
Our medical imaging, laboratory diagnostics, and point-of-care testing solutions have and continue to support physicians in the difficult process of determining the severity of COVID-19 cases, helping medical professionals offer the best treatments for patients, and assist with follow-up to monitor a patient’s recovery.
In the last two years we were successful in enabling healthcare providers’ smooth operations despite the repeated lockdowns. We have also contributed to the pandemic management by delivering antigen and PCR tests in Slovakia.
Our personal and professional lives were directly affected by the pandemic as well. We were forced to change our lives and office culture dramatically, and struggled like many to create a home office regime. And yet, despite these hardships, our team rose to the challenge beautifully.
Were you able to identify any positive side effects or opportunities resulting from the present situation?
(VU) As for my professional life, we needed to implement the digital tools and processes as quick as possible to transform our working environment to a virtual one. This was the mission from the beginning of the situation. The first to adapt wins, obviously. However, the most challenging part was to include the clients into the very same environment. Despite the fact that our clients used to be quite resistant and responded differently, we all managed to adapt at the end of the day.
As for my personal life - our family bond was recreated at a totally new level. I need to say, that “the necessity” to be together with my husband and young adult children allowed us to take care of each other much more than before. We lived next door to my old parents in a quite small city and you could feel an unbelievable atmosphere of protection and support there. From my experience, people have become more thoughtful and supportive during the pandemic.
(VŠ) A key factor of our success has been and will remain the close interaction with our customers, policy makers, and industry associations. This is only possible with the support of our professional team of more than 750 employees locally in Slovakia and
66 000, globally.
We in Siemens Healthcare were flexible and resilient and we managed to rapidly accommodate and adapt to the changing conditions. We have acquired new skills in remote work and communication. The healthcare industry experienced new opportunities in antigen and PCR tests deliveries, automatization, and usage of Artificial Intelligence.
Our company also experienced an increased demand in X-ray and CT examinations that have triggered the need for acquiring diagnostic imaging equipment all over the world. Siemens Healthineers has managed to support its customers both on the local and worldwide level as a truly reliable business partner.
What is the favorite part of your day and why?
(VU) Early morning, definitely. The time when everyone else is asleep; the only sound coming from the birds. The smell of coffee in the room opening up my senses. It is my private time to go through the upcoming day while visualizing the outcomes.
(VŠ) The early morning - with its promise of a new day, new opportunities, and new challenges, is best for me. I like to think of every day bringing a new “adventure”, but in a serious way, as a way of serving our customers to improve healthcare for patients in Slovakia. It is very likely that each of us will one day need to rely on healthcare personally or for a family member. As such, I am trying to keep our company’s promise towards our customers in my daily work, to make things better for everyone, now and in the future. I trust the whole team feels the responsibility as well, during our personal daily engagement and commitment.
Do you have any habits or routines that help you maintain your work-life balance and work well for you?
(VU) I was an excellent student. I was collecting only the best grades. Anyway, when I happened to get a worse grade, I used to be quite unhappy. My mum would always take me to the patisserie and buy me an ice cream or something delicious and praise me for the effort. In fact, she praised me for my accomplishments as well as motivated me when something didn’t go so smoothly.
This habit was naturally built into my life. I often praise my children, my husband, my friends, my colleagues as well as myself. We all are on a long journey influencing so many people around us. And everybody is happy to get some praise. Ultimately, I am sure that everybody is capable of giving it to somebody else as well.
(VŠ) I believe in professional hard work and in continuous life-long education. So, I try to get the most available information and to gather inputs for the topic I am momently focused on.
I have managed to maintain my personal work-life balance and recharge my batteries during my daily walks with our dogs which help me clear my head and improve my mood. If I don´t have enough time or energy for a walk, I seek inner peace and serenity while briefly relaxing with a couple of minutes spent watching the fish in a small aquarium in our living room which still doubles as my home-office.
What advice would you give to your 20-something-year old self?
(VU) Search for your future and do not be in a hurry - the end is the same for everybody - your journey is the goal.
(VŠ) Observe, absorb, and learn from your more experienced colleagues and role models you meet in your life. Try to have the most possible experiences abroad either via study, work, leisure, or pure attentive observation and use them to find drive to help in Slovakia.
What are the parts of your work that still excite you and give you motivation?
(VU) My work could be considered to be a strategic game. There are clear strategic goals received from the headquarters. A very important part of the game is that I have magnificent team players ready to achieve them. There are so many challenges approaching us externally as well as internally and we are processing them level by level. Every player is different but willing to get more. And together we work as an unbeatable machine. This diverse mix of colleagues ready to help, to support, to cooperate, to brainstorm and to have fun motivates me to reach the next level.
(VŠ) The core of a manager’s work is to motivate people, coach them, and be ready to help overcome barriers and obstacles team members run into on the journey to reach common goals and success. Achieving a team goal evokes the feeling of victory, which motivates me to get ready for new challenges.
If you had to make a career switch, in what other profession can you imagine yourself?
(VU) I can imagine myself as an artist, as a painter. For me, the painting process is an escape to the “other universe”. It is so simple, just the canvas, acrylics, brushes and a bit of water. Next, there is the stage of playing with colors, mixing them with feelings and imagination. I am not really sure about the public reception :) However, this would be the profession where I could combine my creativity and imagination without any limits.
(VŠ) Well, should I make a career switch it would be towards sharing my experience and knowledge. During my professional life I have managed to collect quite a vast information base from numerous professional trainings and meetings with inspiring people that is worth sharing with young people.
Can you name three sources you have recently learned from or have inspired you the most (e.g. people, books, websites...)?
(VŠ) Everyone should find some time to expand their knowledge and wisdom, explore and get inspired, or follow successful examples of companies or individuals. Often out of the box thinking sparks innovations or leads to great goals. So, I like the inspiration of real success stories, of personalities from industries who have been and are changing our lives like Steve Jobs or Elon Musk. Inspiration can be found likewise in exceptional athletes like Michael Jordan and his cooperation with NIKE.
There are several Czech and Slovak personalities who also have very inspiring lives and business stories, such as Tomáš Baťa or Jozef Škoda, whose achievements are motivating and surely worth learning about.
What is your biggest fear for the generation of your children? What about the biggest hope?
(VU) The biggest fear? That common sense is destroyed and people are put in the middle of a war. Our generation had the unique privilege to live our lives in peace without experiencing terror. My biggest hope for the next generation is to earn the same privilege to be able to enjoy their life.
(VŠ) The current economic situation with its double-digit inflation hit most of us unprepared. Our children’s generation has been raised in a relatively high level of comfort, abundance, and wealth. I hope they are able to summon enough inner strength to adapt to the new reality and the potentially challenging times it may bring. I also have a strong hope that the situation in Slovakia will change so that our young talent, who study and work abroad- and we have plenty of them- will be attracted to return to Slovakia and in so doing help our country on the way to success.
I would like to conclude with a quote from Benjamin Franklin, who said, and I fully agree with his wisdom: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Viera Uherová, General Director, Oracle Slovensko
Vladimír Šolík, Executive Director, Siemens Healthineers Slovakia