You have been working with your team to develop a range
of events focused on business. In your experience, what is
the subject students struggle with the most in the fields of
business and financial literacy?
I am not an expert in financial literacy. In business, I believe
some of the largest hurdles lie within one’s own courage, the
fear of failure, maintaining motivation and the search for good
partners that are able to join in on developing an idea and
persevere in that effort. Owning a startup is a great dream
that many students have, however, the clash with reality is
often a tough pill to swallow. Even just developing an idea to
the point where it can be presented to investors and other
partners is equal to months of hard work that has to be done
out of your own motivation. The risk that a project would
fail is very large, therefore those that dedicate themselves
to developing multiple ideas in a row are displaying a truly
commendable effort. Nonetheless, learning through firsthand experience is extremely valuable, so even though the
risks are great, students also stand to gain a lot through this.
In relation to what you just talked about, do you view
the topic of ‘business’ to be central to the learning
experience? Should the university perhaps dedicate itself
more to it?
Whether we like it or not, we always carry at least some
remnants of society’s opinion that a university student’s main
focus should be to study their field of choice and prepare for
the application of their knowledge at a future job. Currently,
however, we are noticing that a considerable number of
students are starting businesses during their academic
career. This was confirmed by a study conducted at VŠBTUO in the fall of last year. Around 11% of students start
businesses while still in school, while another 7% start one
within three years of graduating. These statistics are starting
to grow large enough for VŠB-TOU to strengthen activities
that support student’s efforts in business and are the reason
behind the university’s inclusion of creativity and business
themes in strategic development plans. After all, we believe—
and witness daily—that our students are brimming with ideas
that could be turned into legitimate business propositions;
they just do not realize it yet. Personally, I tell students that
there are no bad business ideas, only those that never leave
the drawing board.
You talk about creativity and business, which in the Czech
language share a root word, as two different topics, is
there a purpose behind this?
Yes, I talk about these two terms as separate topics for
a reason. We need to realize that we currently live in very
dynamic times. Society used to take decades to fully
absorb and process big changes and new trends, however,
nowadays, this is done within a single year or a couple months.
Our parents and maybe even some from my generation can
go about their entire career lives with the knowledge they
gained in school; that era has come and gone at this point.
For example, according to a prediction made by Manpower
Group, around a third of all current professions will have
their job descriptions drastically changed within the next five
years and the number of brand new positions will increase
by 15% within that same time period—and that is only the
beginning. This is the reason why it is not only important
to teach students knowledge within their fields, but also
to support so-called key competences that will help them
develop their careers as well as themselves even after they
have graduated. It is precisely this sort of ‘creativity’ that will
become a recurring theme in many activities in not only our
Career Center, but many others as well. We want to support
students in the development of their critical thinking, their
ability to spot opportunity, their ability to execute on said
opportunity, strategic thinking and planning, leadership, selfrealization, self-reflection and many other skills.
Are you therefore preparing a new programme or event?
How do you plan on developing the creativity of your
We have already devoted a lot of time towards business and
creativity and we intend to continue. We have plenty of events
planned but we also already have a basis to build upon. In
2017, we launched the cross-faculty optional course ‘Startup
Business’. Originally, our plan was to teach a couple students
each year how they can develop their ideas into potential
businesses, however, over the course of the last couple years
the number of students signing up to the course climbed well
above one hundred and its popularity is increasing. We think
that one factor explaining this boom in popularity could be
the frequent inclusion of experts, successful business owners
and mentors that decide to share their know-how with the
students and inspire them with their stories.
We also heard that this year you are hosting the ninth
anniversary of your business support programme, Green
For us, Green Light is a source of experience which we can
then use long term to help us support a business culture at
the university. This programme features not only student
projects but also academic ones. Thanks to the Moravian
Silesian Region’s support, Green Light has been open to any
local party or individual for nine years now. Its uniqueness
stems from the fact that the programme helps advance ideas
with business potential under the supervision of mentors
with plenty of experience. Essentially, it helps turn an idea
into a business.
Could you give us an example of a successful attendee of
We have helped over one hundred businesses get started.
Many of these projects received private funding from
domestic as well as foreign sources. One notable project
from last year’s Green Light is Nilmore. This group managed
to develop a circular textile that, once used, can then
be recycled back into its fibres and used to make more
clothing. The team developing the aforementioned project
is made up of current and past students of the university.
It is specifically this model of connecting students with
practically experienced people that seems the most fruitful
and gives projects the finishing push to become complete.
The courage to take risks, the desire for uniqueness
and independence, strong self-motivation and practical
experience—these aspects form the ideal cocktail for
potential success. Personally, I am very glad that these traits
are present even within our team. Maybe that is how we can
work on developing so many projects and still manage to
find ways to enjoy it.
Ms Šimoníková, thank you for the interview.
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