Zuzana Vitamvasova, 36
Human resources director for Europe, Varroc Lighting Systems
What was your first automotive job and why were you interested in the industry?
I started as a part-time labor law advisor at Siemens VDO Automotive in the company’s Human Resources department. Within six months it became a full-time position under Continental, after it took over Siemens VDO. This experience ignited my passion for the automotive industry. It’s a passion that I continue to feel today.
Born: Valasske Mezirici, Czech Republic
Languages: Czech, English
Education: Bachelor’s degree in law and business management, Nottingham Trent University, England
Your greatest achievement?
My greatest achievement is putting together my amazing team. Over the last year-and-a-half I have added 15 employees to the European Human Resources department. We are delivering results together. Without them I wouldn’t be receiving this award.
What was your biggest failure and what did it teach you?
There was a time when I simply trusted but didn’t check certain scenarios and facts. I have learned from this. Today I still trust but also do my homework and check.
What is your current challenge at work?
Our company is growing quickly. I help manage this rapid growth. In my region, we have grown from four to eight locations during the last two years.
What about the auto industry surprises you?
During the last year I have really seen how much flexibility the automotive industry demands from human resources teams. If you want human resources to be a business partner, you have to be able to provide this type of flexibility. It’s much more needed and in demand here than in other industries.
What is the best advice you have ever received?
Everything is possible if you really want it.
What advice would you give to a person considering a career in the auto industry?
If you would like a career that offers many changes and is fast-paced, the automotive industry is the right field to work in.
2014-2017: Human resources central services manager, Varroc Lighting Systems, Senov u Noveho Jicina
2012-2014: Compensation and benefits manager, Varroc Lightning Systems, Senov u Noveho Jicina
2007-2012: Legal support specialist, Continental, Frenstat pod Radhostem, Czech Republic
2004-2006: Senior judicial clerk, Vestin District Court, Vestin, Czech Republic
What job do you really want to have in the future?
One day, when I’m retired, I would like to run a restaurant.
What do you do to relax?
I love spending time with my family. Every Saturday morning, I try to have coffee with my mom and my brother, then my brother and I go swimming together. We have done this for many years and it’s a ritual I just love. My partner and I enjoy sporting activities, travelling and just being together.
What is your pet peeve?
I really dislike ironing shirts. Sadly, it’s the one thing I seem to do most on the weekend.
What was your first car?
It was a red Peugeot 306 that I bought when I was 23 years old. I was so excited about owning my first car. My father warned me that I was buying a very nice box that I would have to keep throwing money into. After a few months I realized he was absolutely right.
A Skoda Superb, with Varroc rear lamps.
If you were a car, which one would you be?
I’m sure my engineering colleagues would answer this quite differently but I’m much more laid back when it comes to cars. For me a car must be functional, safe and white.