Vestberry has been very successful in attracting female talent from the IT sector. Mirka Uhnak, the CEO of Mini Tech MBA, an educational platform that opens doors to the world of IT for all women, has interviewed one of our bright young women, Tereza Kmecová (Terez).
Terez, our Product Manager, talks about her role at Vestberry and the path that led her here. Before her mid-teens, she didn’t even think about ending up in IT, and now she leads a software development team. She is someone unafraid to take charge and jump at opportunities. Terez talks more about what makes a good product manager, how to lead a successful life thanks to an excel sheet, who in the company knows the product the best, and what’s up with Vetberry’s founders and explosives.
Hi, this is Mirka from Mini Tech MBA. Today I’m talking to Tereza Kmecová, a product manager at Vestberry. Terez, your profile told me that you are already quite seasoned in the world of startups and technology and feel pretty comfortable there. What is your relationship with information technology?
Well, since I work for a company that belongs to this industry, I have to say it’s very positive and warm. When I was about 13-14, at the beginning of high school, I didn’t think that information technology was for me. I was lucky to have excellent math and computer science teachers. I found out those were the only subjects I didn’t have to study for. It didn’t feel like I had to memorise anything. There were just some connections and principles that needed to be understood, and that was it. So that was kind of my start, which opened the door for me to study and explore information technologies.
When I looked more closely at your CV, I saw a decent track record across different companies and coworking. I think it’s been about eight years that you’ve been part of the startup community in Slovakia. Ultimately, you chose the path of a Product Manager at Vestberry. Why did you choose this path, and why Vestberry?
I started working for Campus Cowork while still at the university. We reached a point where we wanted a complete rebranding, which also meant redesigning our website. Almost randomly, this project for a new website landed on my desk. A colleague went on an extended vacation, and she asked if I could do it, and I was like, ‘Okay.’
That was the first time I truly felt in my element. At 22, relatively early in a career, finding something that really suits you is fantastic. I was in charge of communication with the programmer, the designer, and the team. I felt very good about it; the results were great, and it went pretty smoothly. However, afterward, I continued working for Campus and not on product management or software development. Then covid came, which for coworking as an offline business led to exploring possibilities for an online community or what else we could create.
At that time, I honestly thought about completely changing my job to a company where I would devote myself to product management. But the corona crisis put a halt to that. I thought, ‘Well, it’s probably not best to change jobs now.’ We started working on various projects and new online products. But then I almost naturally moved on to Vestberry. It is a sister company of Campus and has a common founder, Marek Zámečník. They were at the Campus, and I somehow got stuck in the office. At first, I did other things, but then I told myself it was time to apply my skills and experience. When the product manager position opened up, I immediately applied for it. Since I was already on Slack, it was just about writing to someone there, ‘Listen, I want to do this.’ And that’s why Vestberry, because I knew them from the community, from the Campus. I have already worked with them in some ways, and it somehow worked out like this. So the big elements were chance, covid, and the Campus community.
It is said that you make sure that you have a relatively balanced representation of women and men at Vestberry and that you are generally successful in achieving this. Do you feel any support from the management to feel welcome and appreciated in the company?
I don’t feel treated differently than others in the same position or on my team. Instead, the focus is much more on experience and results. So I don’t feel any specific support as a woman. We are all treated equally.
That is also very important, thank you. In a growing startup with great potential, spending a little more time at work than those 7-8 hours a day is often necessary. How is it with you? How much time do you spend at work now? Not only physically but also mentally.
Well, I’m a person who doesn’t really like every day to be the same or have some brutal routine. This is disturbed a bit by my daily morning standup, so I’m slightly pushed into some sort of stable mode. Also, my brain takes about until lunch to fully wake up. Much of my work is about meetings and communication, but sometimes I need to sit down, write something or give it that structure. So if I have a meeting, that’s fine; I’ll take care of that. But when I have some focused work of my own and a product that I have to deliver, I prefer to do this in the afternoon and sometimes in the evening. Quite often, questions come up from clients, the company and the like. Therefore much of that day is unplanned because some unpredictable things will happen.
Usually, my day looks like this: I’m on standup around nine o’clock. After that, I often take a moment for myself. So I have my morning routine, and then in the evening, I stay a little longer, until maybe six or seven, depending on what needs to be done, because then it’s calm enough for e-mails and messages on Slack, and I can focus. Even adding it all together, I probably wouldn’t say that it is necessarily more than 8 hours a day.
You have been in Vestberry for about one and a half years. I assume you already have some insider tidbits about the company or perhaps the founders you have already mentioned. Do you have something you could share with us?
Well, I’m not going to share anything from the parties.
Right, that’s not allowed.
We did this event for students in cooperation with Nexteria, which I liked a lot. The founders had their discussion about how they founded the company, how they got to know each other, what kind of relationships they have with each other, and how they approached building the company. It was a great interview. They talked about what they did before Vestberry, and our CTO Jano admitted that he also had a shop with fireworks, just like another of our founders. We knew that about our CPO, Matej Pavlanský, but not at all about our CTO. So although they have known each other for years, maybe 5 or 6, they didn’t know this about each other. So you could say our founders are pretty explosive.
So we salute Jan and his lovely career with fireworks. If anyone reading us is considering a similar career path to yours, what would you recommend? Maybe they are thinking about a career in product or fintech like you? What would you say to them? Any advice, tips and tricks?
Structured thinking is necessary, which I got from studying mathematics. It’s not like I use integral calculus now, but that study gave me a lot of the mindset I use daily at work. Of course, you don’t necessarily have to study mathematics. I have colleagues who didn’t need it to have that mindset. I would look for things that train the brain and teach this analytical and structured way of thinking. It was definitely worthwhile to devote some time to this in my life. Maybe even try to program something. I tried it for my bachelor’s degree and diploma, and it gives me a lot of insight into the work of the people I work with every day, and it’s also something that, in my opinion, opened a lot of doors for me. So I would, for example, look up Mini Tech MBA and try some such courses. I think it can also help a lot in a product manager’s career.
Excellent advice. This cannot be stressed enough – train your mind. Whether analytically, algorithmically, or however you decide, train, train and train.
Disclaimer: This article was translated and written by Adam Petrek. It is based on the audio recording from the interview between Mirka Uhnak and Tereza Kmecova.
Vestberry is hiring
With global expansion on its way and a growing client base, Vestberry is rapidly expanding its team. There are several positions available for driven and talented individuals who like to take ownership and make an impact. You can join Terez and the rest of our team at a crucial stage when the company from a small country in the heart of Europe is beginning to take on the world. You can be part of something really big. If you have any experience with fireworks, you might have a leg up with our founders.
Vestberry is building a fintech analytical platform helping Venture Capital and Private Equity investors manage their capital smarter, allowing them to invest in companies who strive to solve the world’s most pressing challenges, from climate change to mental health.
With Vestberry, our clients increase team productivity significantly, streamline internal processes, and can make better investment decisions faster. As a result, Vestberry brings clients a competitive advantage, both in terms of speed & quality of investment decisions and also the potential to attract increasingly data-oriented investors.
Life at Vestberry
Nov 25, 2022
Our Women in Tech – Tereza Kmecová | Part 2
Vestberry has been very successful in attracting female talent from the IT sector. Mirka Uhnak, the CEO of Mini Tech MBA, an educa...
Nov 10, 2022
Podcast: How to set goals & KPIs for your SaaS business
Vestberry CEO Marek Zamecnik recently shared insights on how we set goals & KPIs for our SaaS business in the popular podcast ...
To keep up with the industry, company and product updates.