Career Story: Vladimir Vano, SBERBANK

February 14, 2014

Global Executive MBA alumnus

What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why?
My early childhood and upbringing (“kinderstube” it was, indeed). People say that there are only two certainties in life: death and taxes. However, I strongly believe to have a third one: no matter how hard I try, I will never be able to work as hard as my father and do everything as perfectly as my mother. Growing up with role-models like my parents leaves the deep trace that then underlies any and all subsequent experience. 

Did you originally want to pursue a career in a different field? If so, why is it that nothing has come of your plans?
When I was in elementary and secondary school ("Gymnasium"), I was keen on math, computers and especially physics. I participated in extracurricular competitions in these subjects, with results that earned me a place at the Faculty of Math, Physics and Informatics without taking the mandatory entrance exams. In the International Baccalaureate program (its first selective class in Slovakia), I was the only student who took a “high level” (more in-depth) course in physics as I planned to study physics with a view to turning this hobby into my profession. Growing up and living within the changing society of the nineties, after the fall of the Iron Curtain, however, got me interested in economics and business, which is why I decided against studying physics (although the door was open) but went for my current track instead. Nevertheless, I am in research, focusing on financial markets and economics rather than physics. In retrospect, I believe that even with this digression from my original “childhood dream” I can make an equally good contribution to our society.

How and why did you come to work for Sberbank Europe?

The very international board of Sberbank Europe offered me to take the lead in establishing the CEE research function in Vienna within the newly expanding banking group spanning eight countries of the region. Basically, it is a great opportunity to build upon my prior achievements and my track record from my homeland and apply all the experience and knowledge in a more regional and Europe-wide context. It is a hell of a lot of work, but I am eagerly looking forward to it.

What has changed in your career as a result of your MBA degree? How did the program support you in reaching your career goals? What concrete career opportunities have opened up for you?
That’s a topic for a small dissertation! But to make long story short, I believe the Global Executive MBA has uniquely complemented all my prior experience and knowledge, making me ready and well suited to accept the new region-wide challenge on the group-wide level. It was simply the right decision at the right time, and I have appreciated it ever since enrolling in the program.

What was your biggest professional/personal success?
There is a very long track record of professional successes, all of which were, however, earned in the hardest way with a long-term focus and perseverance. Therefore, I appreciate much more my greatest personal success – my family, since achieving it involved much undeserved luck (and blessing).

What are your goals for the coming year? Your goals in general? Is there still something you absolutely want to do?
My professional goal is simple yet intricate at the same time: to replicate what I have achieved in my homeland on the region-wide level. I am not sure whether I would be able to take this important leap without the knowledge, skills and experience from the Global Executive MBA of the WU Executive Academy.

What do you consider a “great luxury“?
Difficult question. I think the greatest luxury is to distract one’s mind with people who are not worth it and who don’t deserve it. That’s way too expensive. I frankly can’t afford such a luxury and can live happily without it, focusing on the work at hand and my long-term values.

What was the last book/movie you really enjoyed?
Being submerged in all the work-related readings and regional news flows, I always take great joy in any of the James Bond movies. Napoleon contra Metternich and a biography of emperor Franz Joseph were the hobby readings I enjoyed most recently – relaxing but yet very inspiring and informative.

How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership? Has it been influenced by a leadership role-model?
I have developed a style of work and life where I only have friends, and do all I can to encourage people around me to embrace this attitude as well. I don’t have a particular role-model, but am inspired by the business or other leaders – who regardless of their particular personality traits – inspire and hence attract others to their cause, vision or goal. I am lucky to have several such leaders in our group.

How do you recharge your batteries when you are not pursuing your demanding career?
By running, exercising, playing squash, and reading history books.

If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?
My wife. First, I do believe that there is no substitute for experience (also when it comes to appreciating her role) and because such a dose of first-hand outside perspective through the eyes of a close person would be invaluable for my further personal growth, which is a never ending process for me.

Why would you recommend the Global Executive MBA of the WU Executive Academy? What did you like the most?
Because it is the best MBA program in Central and Eastern Europe. That’s why I chose it, and in retrospect I find it the right choice. I greatly appreciated and have benefited from all its aspects and elements.


My motto in life:
“Ora et labora.” (Thanks, dad).
I can laugh about:
Mistakes I am most likely willing to forgive:
The right attitude, commitment and learning curve are important.
I would spend my last money on:
Books (and education in general). (Thank you, grandma).
In 20 years I will be:
My biggest ambition in life is to be simply a good person (regardless of challenges and circumstances) and I hope that in 20 years I will be able to say I fulfilled this ambition.

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