Foreigners.cz’s Prague branch celebrated the 5th birthday last month. It was Gabriela Šilhánová that got up enough nerve to open the office in the Czech capital. A beautiful, smart and capable woman who leads her team with a heavy but friendly hand.
Gabi, you started to work at Foreigners.cz 5 years ago, right?
Yes, that’s right. I am with Foreginers.cz from its very beginning, actually, when there were only 4 people in the entire company: co-founders and owners Andrea with Vojta, a woman who was in charge of Brno office and later on, me.
How did you guys meet?
We all were working in the student organization ESN Buddy System in Hradec Králové where we looked after foreign students. It was the common idea to help foreigners which got me to Foreigners.cz. And, naturally, I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to be a part of something new developing with a vision I believe in. Great people to work with was only a bonus 🙂
You are the Executive Director in the Prague office, currently. Which positions did you experience before this one?
As mentioned, I am the one who opened the office in Prague. It was back in 2012 and I was all alone so I carried out the duties of each position we have at Foreigners.cz now: Office Coordinator, Expat & Immigration Consultant, Relocation Consultant. I kept the ball rolling in the office, arranged insurance and assisted at the local authorities, rented flats. Step by step, we hired colleagues who took over my duties so there is only the management for me 🙂
What do you like about your job?
It’s the work with my team and their motivation. I love looking for reasons of their success or unsuccess, finding and adopting them for the activity of the entire team. I enjoy creating new methods to make the office going like a bomb. I like meeting new people in the way of co-operation, too. I visit networking events that give me energy and endow me with resoluteness.
On the flipside, what’s the least favorite part of your job for you?
I don’t like doing anything that doesn’t go along for a long time 🙂 Although, I live up to a motto ‚Everything happens for a reason‘ and try to follow that while doing everything, especially when something goes wrong in my life.
You are the one who hire new people in the Prague office. What’s principal when you interview a candidate to your team?
Mutual sympathy is the drawing board. The feeling we both have that we are on the same wavelength and we want the same thing – to help foreign employees and other expats to feel at home in the Czech Republic. After that, it is perfect English. Also, I consider important a certain level of self-confidence because the positions at Foreigners.cz are mostly business oriented and such a business person can’t suffer for a lack of confidence. So, as you can see, to find a good candidate is not easy!
The office in Prague moved recently. How do you like the new place of work?
Yay! I am very happy we moved to a beautiful office at Karlovo náměstí (Charles Square) 17. Our new office is more up to standard, I would say. We have a separate meeting room and an office for management. I think we all got used to it and we are keen working here!
What’s your experience of living abroad?
When I was 18 years old I moved to London for 2 years. It was an opportunity to grow up for me, to get independent and arrange my thoughts. I can say it has changed my life – instead of a graduated child I came back home as a woman who wanted to live alone and independently. I left my parents‘ house, started a university and took care of myself.
What did you study?
I studied Tourism Management at the Faculty of Informatics and Management in Hradec Králové.
Would you like to move abroad?
Probably not. I feel at home in the Czech Republic and each time I leave I love coming back.
From which part of the country do you come from?
I was born in Krkonoše mountains. That may be the reason why I love mountains in general. But I have lived in Prague since I was 2 years old so I have the courage to say I am a typical Praguer 🙂
How do you relax?
Mostly by doing sport, walking or running with my dog. I also ride a motorbike with my boyfriend and read books at our little cottage.
What dog do you have?
It’s a cross-breed of Labrador and shepherd dog. He has 35 kilograms but he is a real darling.
What’s your well-liked place in Prague?
I love Prague city center at 6 am. The empty, rousing Prague is wonderful. It is worth to see Charles Bridge in such an early morning, believe me. But on the weekends I usually go away from Prague to nature, preferably to the mountains.