“Through EU expertise and feminine leadership, I unlock transformation of individuals to find their voice, teams to fulfil their mission in alignment and organisations to lead in a new responsible business conduct. Let’s explore this new possibility.
Hello beautiful soul!
I am Lucia. I have a feeling you have been guided here because you are curious to explore how we can co-create transformation in the EU. Maybe you wonder why a public servant would embark on a rather unorthodox journey of political campaigning or podcast production. Or maybe because you have noticed commonalities in our life journeys. Are you curious to dig deeper into the story of how I went about re-discovering my passions and creating new forms of self-expression to feel more alive, aligned and impactful? Welcome and read on.
What am I about?
I am a Brussels-based EU official. I love pushing my limits, empowering other changemakers and elevating consciousness level of our organisations and society at large. I call this a passion for “technology of transformation”. At first it evolved from a career in hard-core tech industry. As I started digging deeper into the “softer” tech of human transformation through a new leadership paradigm and talent management, a much clearer vision started emerging for me. Now I bring all of this together – be it in my work in the European institutions or in my pro bono projects. All of it evolved to another level after my experiment with political campaigning when I ran in the 2019 European elections. I am still a European public servant in my heart. But I am also committed to bridging the policy world with general public and empowering talented men and women to raise their game and become more effective agents of change.
Born in post-communist Czechoslovakia…
I was growing up together with the democracy around me – in a society formatted by decades of absence of free expression, values-based leadership and respect for fundamental freedoms. My childhood was marked by experiences that appeared normal only for those who grew up eastwards of the Iron Curtain – how special it feels to have pineapples on the Christmas table or to have access to high street fashion imported from Austria. I perfectioned my discipline, strength and flexibility in gymnastics trainings and foreign language classes, wondering how much extra work is necessary for somebody ‘like me’ to succeed in the bigger world.
Integration was THE cool subject back in the 90s.
Despite my Greenpeace activism period while at high school, ecology was not cool enough (for my family) to trust that I’d find a decent job. So I chose to study international relations and European affairs as my first Master’s degree. Feeling an insatiable urge for more exposure to outside reality, I went through countless unpaid internships in business, national parliament, foreign ministry or embassies. Selling ice cream and washing public bathrooms on the American East Coast taught me a lot about managing multiple jobs and building one’s dream bottom up. EU-funded exchange programs like Erasmus and Leonardo da Vinci internships unleashed my European soul and never let it get squeezed back into Slovak-only box.
My first work on ‘women’s agenda’ was about female genital mutilation.
I remember standing in the Bratislava office of UNIFEM, the United Nation’s fund for women, flipping through their brochures. I can still feel the goosebumps. You know how overwhelming the feeling can be when you are looking at the beauty of African nature and colourful people? Now combine that with horrifying pictures, statistics and stories of violence that endangers and ruins lives of millions of women every year. I was shocked and disgusted. I couldn’t not act. My first step was to write my thesis about violence against women and gender equality across various cultural spaces in the world. My dream job was working against FGM in UN’s New York headquarters. While keeping it on my bucket list, my dream came true thanks to my other projects for empowering women at an international level.
LSE taught me to surf on the interface of public sector and business.
My first real job was almost like a real-life MBA – in a boutique consultancy providing market-entry advisory to companies wishing to enter then-boosting Central European markets. Having experienced the challenges of start-up entrepreneurs and also those of large public sector organisations, I got even more committed to a career that is on the intersection of these two worlds.
The newly launched MSc Public Management and Governance at the London School of Economics was tailor-made for people like me – dreaming of shaping the policy decisions of their governments one day. That year was one of the most intense experiences in my life. From fundraising for tuition fees and quick acquisition of academic writing skills that I had never been taught, through standing up to the expectations set by our professors from Harvard, all the way to keeping up with the uncompromising commitment to excellence of my study group. It was a springboard to many amazing experiences that followed.
IT careers = springboard to e-government but also education activism
To a big surprise of many, I decided to return to Slovakia. Upon graduation in 2010, I was headhunted to support the CEO of one of the technology companies as a 3-in-1 advisor – contributing to the core e-government business as a business analyst, leading on new business special operations as well as managing their corporate social responsibility projects. I became the voice of Slovak employers in driving the debate about linking education and labour markets and the need to monitor graduates’ employability. I love looking back to that period. I am proud to have contributed to a true shift in public debate about these issues and in the young students’ career choices. And most importantly, with the benefit of hindsight I understand which elements of that job made me feel perfectly in flow.
Somewhere between designing a smartphone-enabled authentication solution for electronic elections and campaigning for improving the position for our teachers during one of their biggest strikes ever in 2013, I received another one of the so-called once-in-a-lifetime offers. After a two-years long lasting selection process, a dream of my life came true and I received an offer to work for the European Commission in Brussels.
Since 2013 wandering around the wonderland of European Commission
- At first, I was in charge of “skills and digital” policies in the tourism policy unit – a great fit, given my past experience. I was supporting EU’s small businesses with the right skills, tools and funding to face the digital revolution, rise of online platforms and sharing economy.
- Then I moved to an area where the regulatory competence is exclusively kept at the EU level: public procurement. I worked on the more geeky side of developing e-procurement solutions but also on a more political side of assisting Slovakia and Czech Republic in reforming their procurement systems.
- For us Slovaks in the Brussels bubble, 2016 will remain special as the year of the first Slovak presidency in the Council of the EU. It was an unforgettable experience – helping colleagues at the Slovak Permanent Representation in Brussels with getting the proposals related to e-government through the legislative process.
- Since 2016 I’m advising one of the European Commission’s directors responsible for competitiveness of the EU’s industry. Not an easy job, given the speed of geopolitical and technological changes. Half of my time is invested into helping our industry prepare for Brexit. The rest is devoted to various special operations, from modernising the way we use big data for our policies to developing policies for protecting our strategic investment.
In and out of office, I am the voice of femininity in Europe
I stand for transformation through feminine leadership and work culture that works for all generations. I run various networks to support women’s self-expression in political and policy world, and to modernise Commission’s working methods. For me, these are the tools that can contribute to equal growth opportunities for all and increasing the consciousness of our society. I believe that the promise of inclusive and prosperous Europe will only be delivered if feminine principles are re-inserted into the way we design, adopt, implement and communicate our European policies.
In 2019, 14.894 Slovaks gave me their personal votes in the European Parliament elections
This was one of the most challenging and at the same time fulfilling experiences in my life. Similarly to building a startup, it is a priceless lesson in leadership, management, communication, finances, product development, PR and so much more. Similarly to exiting (the startup or any life experiment into the unknown), there is no way back into the matrix that you’ve stepped out of.
I continue shedding Lights on Europe via my podcast
One of the channels that I have created to continue being the voice for the European policy system outside of the Brussels bubble is my podcast Lights on Europe.
Check it out, follow, share with your friends and let me know your feedback either here or via my social media channels.
Let’s speak if you are called to express your voice too
They say I’m good at building bridges between disconnected worlds; mediating between communities that feel misunderstood; unleashing the talent that would otherwise remain unseen. If the above story resonates with you and you’re looking for a mentor that has been through what you’re struggling with, continue reading.