I Would Not Be Successful

Without the People around Me,

CEO of LIBERTY Ostrava Says.

Pavel Šedivý has been working at Liberty Ostrava for an incredible 39 years. He entered the smeltery right

after school and started off as a wagon cleaner. Over the years, he worked in many different positions

until eventually, last December, he was appointed CEO of the company. “If I did not have my colleagues,

no matter who would stand as head of the company, I could not get anything done,” Pavel Šedivý says.

40 years at the same company is truly

a long time. What major changes has

the smeltery undergone throughout

those years?

Compared to what it looked like when

I was just starting out, the smeltery’s inner

workings are completely unrecognizable.

We are incomparably more energy efficient,

and most importantly, exceptionally more

eco-friendly now. Over the eight years that

I spent in the investment department, we

invested 10 billion crowns into ecological

projects. Back when I entered the smeltery,

it expelled 33 thousand tons of dust every

year. Eventually, we managed to cut this

number down by 99%, which is a giant leap

that helped not only improve the smeltery,

but also the city as a whole. It allowed

Ostrava to become greener, and it makes

me incredibly happy for me and my team at

Liberty to be part of that process.

However, that is not all, as Liberty has

its own “green vision.” Can you tell us

some specifics about your plans when it

comes to Liberty and its “green vision”?

Our vision is to become a carbon neutral raw

steel producer by 2030. Current projections

estimate that this will cost us 8.6 billion

crowns, meaning that this will become

historically the largest investment. One key

step in this endeavor is the replacement of

four of our tandem furnaces with two hybrid

electric furnaces. These furnaces melt metals

through heat produced electrically, thereby

replacing the need for metallurgical coke,

which is by far the least environmentally

friendly part of the process.

That is an incredibly large investment.

Will this not handicap Liberty when

competing against countries outside

the European Union that have far lower

ecological standards?

Yes, we are in fact already at a disadvantage

because European industry is significantly

greener when compared to the rest of the

world. Competing against imports from

countries with notably lower ecological

standards is very complicated. This is why

I believe that the European Union needs

to support its strategic industry more,and

therefore protect the thousands of jobs

it provides. This is all necessary when we

are planning such massive investments

towards ecological transformation. We

should do all we can to become selfsufficient.

Even now you are preparing for the future.

You recently began cooperating with

the Ostrava High School of Electrical

Engineering, in which you will have

an entire class of electricians. Are you

personally following this project?

Yes I am following it, and like the GFG

Foundation, which is another party we are

working with to facilitate this cooperation,

it has become a great priority of mine.

The hybrid furnaces are, of course,

a matter of money. What is more

important however, is the acquisition of

qualified people, because their operation

would not go smoothly without them.

I have been trying to create our own little

secondary vocational school for quite

some time now, because I see a lack of

qualified people as the biggest danger to

our industry. I understand that many young

people nowadays would rather try their

luck at becoming an influencer, but I still

believe that there is a sizable contingent

out there that would also like to help

us with our ecological transformation.

Steel is bound to remain central in future

development. Sustainable buildings, wind

turbines and other renewable energy

sources, are but a few examples of where

steel is essential. Our educational and

community programs have the goal of

finding the “green steelworkers” of this

next generation.

Do you think the youth are receptive to

your efforts in becoming carbon neutral?

Definitely, and I can see this every time

I meet and talk with them. Five years ago,

we started building a youth department,

where we chose promising kids from

different schools. Today they have become

very familiar with the smeltery and its

employees, and they receive different

tasks regarding our technologies. And you

know what? They would like to stay with us

and be a part of this modernization. They

are very enthusiastic about our journey

towards carbon neutrality and making steel

production even cleaner than it currently

is, and I am very happy to see this.

It seems that even after all those years

in the business, you still have plenty of

passion. Does this passion transfer over

to your current employees?

I believe that it does. I always keep my head

up and it would be extremely difficult to

see me depressed. The people around me

help a lot with that. I have known all of them

for years and we are usually on the same

wavelength. Our goals are to make

the smeltery work, to provide people with

jobs and to keep moving forward. I think it

is great that my colleagues are as reliable as

they are. If I did not have them, it would not

matter who sat in the seat as CEO. Without

them I would not be successful in anything.

Liberty wants to become green for

the environment. Is the CEO of Liberty

green? Do you ever bike to work?

I would love to, but unfortunately I could

not figure out how I could fit that into all of

my responsibilities. At the very least, I catch

up on my biking on the weekends, even

throughout winter. Our home is located

close to a river. I only need to bike a couple

minutes to reach three offroad tracks that

I can choose from. For me, there is nothing

more relaxing than a good biking session. ǀ 89