By Dave Mendoza, Master Cybersleuth, JobMachine & Staffing Consultant, LinkedIn Corporation.
Grover: “Oh, I’ve been to Prague. Well, I haven’t “been to Prague” been to Prague, but I know that thing, that, “Stop shaving your armpits, read the Unbearable Lightness of Being, date a sculptor, now I know how bad American coffee is thing…”
Jane: “They have good beer there.”
Grover: “… now I know how bad American beer is thing.”
** Kicking and Screaming (1995)
I have long had an interest in opening discussions with peers across the Atlantic, My wife and I were engaged in Alicante, Spain and we married in Finland, her maiden nationality. IN each of my travels to Spain, Sweden, Finland and Estonia I particularly enjoy a prolonged adventure to immerse myself in its culture, food, history and architecture. Those opportunities came and went five years ago, my last holiday escapade, due to the demands of the recruitment industry and my wife enjoys reminding me that she hasnâ€™t seen Helsinki for nearly two years since our daughter Siena was born. JobMachine and SixDegreesFromDave, provide ample branding opportunities and peer relationship building across the globe. Shally has Argentina and Australia as part of his regular intervals of global onsite training and on this particular occasion, LinkedIn connections and emails directed me to an unexpected pleasure of my own, Prague in the Czech Republic. After exchanging correspondence with my e-colleague, Marcin Smolinski, I tapped my pen on my desk and recognized the timing, the business incentives, and substantive opportunities for dialogue with fellow recruiters in Central Europe.
Central Europe has always peaked my interest, given my undergraduate degree in Russian & Central European Studies. Prague in particular, seemed like an ideal location given its common reference as â€œEuropeâ€™s second Parisâ€ As a history buff, I have long sympathized with its tragic history: The country has lost its sovereignty to three major empires, Austria-Hungarian Empire, Nazi Germany, and the Soviet Empire. It suffered devastating invasions, from the Hussite religious wars, to the brutal Soviet invasion of 1968, and had a flourishing Jewish culture decimated during the Holocaust.
Of the former communist countries in central and eastern Europe, the Czech Republic has one of the most developed and industrialized economies. The Czech Republic is home to a population of 10.2 million, within a land mass of 78,866 sq km – slightly smaller than South Carolina and landlocked between the nations of Austria, Germany, Poland, Slovakia. The Czech Republic has a well-educated population and a well-developed infrastructure and therein lies the foundation of its transformation since “The Velvet Revolution” of 1989, into a vibrant parliamentary democracy with one of the most free market economies in Europe and among the most robust of consecutive economic growth rates (Six percent in 2005 and 2006).
Its success allowed the Czech Republic to become the first post-communist country to receive an investment-grade credit rating by international credit institutions. Successive Czech governments have welcomed U.S. investment in addition to the strong economic influence of Western Europe and increasing investment from Asian auto manufacturers. Inflows of foreign direct investment in 2005 were $11.7 billion, more than double the previous year. By U.S. Embassy estimates, the United States is among the top five investors in the Czech Republic since the revolution, which was evidenced by a long row of modern, state of the art facilities on the southern end of Prague with familiar US brands, such as DHL, Dell, IBM, Honeywell, Accenture,o name a few, as I passed down the highway along my tour routes.
It was an accident. A fellow recruiter and I had discussed going to Barcelona. My wife, oddly enough was exceptionally enthusiastic about getting me onboard a plane with the repeated refrain that I was â€œlong overdue a holidayâ€. I have a strong suspicion she was conspiring to develop her own trump card on behalf of her delayed annual visit to Helsinki â€“ regardless of the motivation, my wife at least wanted me to go, albeit alone, (Siena was only ten months and not ready to endure a 14 hour flight) â€“ which is more than can be said of my friend whose wife forbid him to go at the last minute. It seems this is often the case for American men compared to Europeans who often travel with friends and without their spouses. I digress. (See Greg I didnâ€™t name you!) In any case, when he canceled, the price doubled and I nearly canceled myself until I reminded myself of the movie â€œKicking & Screaming” (1995) and the prominence Prague played in the conversation and then I recalled fellow blogger and senior recruiter, Marcin Smolenski at Google, (among the most networked recruiters on Linkedin in Continental Europe) and our discussions about JobMachine training in Europe. After emailing fellow recruiters, such as Adellaide Mikova at Ariba, Doran Parsons, Staffing Manager at Dell Bratislava, Oscar Mejias at GRM Czech, and other recruiters throughout Prague I was able to network with at Linkedin, I found them universally enthusiastic about meeting in person and, aside from the business advantages, I recognized that a trip to Prague, a location booming with multi-national corporate investments, as an ideal place to share best practices about International sourcing for passive talent. I logged onto Priceline.com, and my travel expenses were two thirds the cost of Barcelona. Business justified, profound historical interest, Pilsners and wild game meals.
Ticket purchased and smiling that I was about to embark on an adventure, I realized that this was a perfect example of how LinkedIn offered the platform to meet colleagues half a world away. English being the universal language that it is, accents may have obscured the message on the margins, but I was soon happy to learn first hand that there wouldn’t be any obstacles in exchanging cautionary tales and providing insight on practices distinct to our particular nationalities to ensure a mutual learning experience. I was not about to be disappointed.