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“I had just become pregnant when I was nominated for the directors’ panel. I had not expected such flexibility. I had not expected to continue to be nominated given that I was pregnant. I thought they would stop the entire process,” says Tereza Kavan Klimešová in recalling 2012, when she became a Tax & Legal Director at Deloitte. From then on, she managed to take one more maternity leave, work part-time, strengthen the position of the Japanese Desk and achieve the ultimate goal: this year, she became a Partner.

How can you combine a managing role and motherhood? What should you know if you work with Japanese clients? How has the firm, at which Tereza has been working since 2002, changed over time? Join us in looking back at her 16 years at Deloitte.

Motherhood vs. Work… I had just become pregnant when I was promoted and nominated for the directors’ panel. I had not expected such flexibility. I had not expected to continue to be nominated given that I was pregnant. I thought they would stop the entire process. However, it was up to me whether I would manage to do it. No one saw motherhood as an obstacle. Suspending your career is always a matter of choice. It is not easy to give up something that you enjoy in favour of something that you may enjoy even more. It is ideal to combine the things. And it is also important to involve the partner. I came back after six months of maternity leave. It was not easy but my husband was a great support and we alternated to manage things.

Advice for women: Try to make sense of how things may work and come up with a specific suggestion. Approach motherhood as well as a career proactively. Involve your partner – I recommend this to every woman.

How Deloitte itself has changed… The change is immense. In 2002, I joined an audit firm that was, from my junior perspective, highly formal and conservative. Regardless of the strict dress code policy prescribing colours and the height of heels, I could not in any way at the time wear the clothes that I wear today. The hierarchy blocks and differences between positions have been erased, which is certainly a good thing. Today, we are a dynamic firm that has surpassed competition. We are completely different from what the firm was like originally….

16 years in one and the same job… It is not a stereotype for me. Work has never become monotonous, there have always been things to learn and I have always had freedom to try and see what I enjoy. At first, I learnt taxation, then how to manage people, how to cooperate across the firm, how to use new technologies… When I had started at Deloitte as a junior, I thought there could not be anything better than preparing tax returns. I have not prepared one for many years and I do not miss it because now there are completely different things that I enjoy doing.

Beginnings at Deloitte… I joined Deloitte in 2002 right after my studies. I have been through all the positions, I know what challenges and problems people deal with from the start all the way to the position which I hold today. That is a certain advantage. It gives me certainty in how to manage people and what advice to give them when they encounter obstacles, because I have been through all this myself.

Career start… Our GES team, or the team focusing on natural persons, had been multicultural from the very beginning. It comprised foreign nationals from all over the world. The team communicated solely in English, which, for a student, was a step into an entirely different world. However, I enjoyed the fact that 90% of clients were foreign nationals. It was a real roller-coaster ride: I learnt so many things so fast.

A key milestone… For me, it was most certainly the assignment to Deloitte Romania in 2009. I was tasked with implementing a new technology for preparing tax returns but, as it often happens in life, things are different and paths change. When I arrived, I learnt that I would lead an entire team! I was a freshly appointed manager, so it was a great experience for me. I led a team of five, who did not see it in entirely favourable terms that someone from a foreign country should lead them… but for me, it was a great experience as regards both managerial and leadership skills… Originally, I went there for three months, but I stayed for eight…

How I lead my team… I may be a rather directive person but in a team, or at work in general, I prefer an open, highly transparent style. I do not wish to create hierarchies in the team and distinguish between juniors and managers. I consider them to be a part of team management, which is why all strategic decisions are made within the management group as a whole. Everyone has their task and area on which they focus, they have 100% of information about everything that is happening in the team and participate in its future direction. It is certainly better if you focus on the strengths of the people you have on the team and make use of the diversity of each individual.
What we do… The GES (Global Employer Services) team focuses on global employee mobility, taxation, immigration and remuneration structure setting, and specialises in social security and health insurance advisory. In gender terms, the team is balanced in favour of women and I am proud that many mothers come back after maternity leave.

Targeting Japanese clients… I helped create Deloitte’s Japanese Desk. However, I got into this more or less by chance. Needless to say, I found my place in this. I found it immensely interesting how culturally different it is. I like Japan very much and always look forward to every business trip. I always bring some new knowledge with me, such as what issues the Japanese are currently dealing with, how they succumb to the influence of Western culture…

Meetings with the Japanese… It is a highly formal occasion, with specific rules for who sits where or how business cards are exchanged. You need to tread lightly in dealing with the Japanese and know the rules so as to avoid a faux pas. For example, the Japanese do not like it when you look them directly in the eyes. It makes them nervous. They are also not used to expressing neither negative nor positive emotions. It is also important not to say things in a way that is too complicated. It is also good to draw figures on the blackboard to help them navigate the topic. However, if you learn these basic rules, you will find that meetings with the Japanese are very pleasant and, moreover, that Japanese clients are very loyal.

Congratulations and good luck in your new position!

Do not miss other story: Deloitte Has Five New Partners… Meet DANIELA HYNŠTOVÁ

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