Humans of Port Cities – Jakub Smolka

Jakub Smolka, Director of Port Cities Outsourcing - Consulting, talks about taking chances in the face of uncertainty.

The Humans of Port Cities series takes a personal look at the lives of our members, to celebrate the diversity and uniqueness of the people who build the magic behind computers. In the series, each human of Port Cities will tell us a story that helped shape them into the person that they are today. To read more Humans of Port Cities stories, click here.

1.    When was a time that you were not satisfied with your life?

Back in Prague, I wasn’t happy with my job at the time and was looking for a change. I was hoping to continue my position with AIESEC and that didn’t work out for various reasons. I was always entrepreneurial and wanted to have my own business.  At that time I didn’t see that happening in my home country.

At the time, my long-time friend and now work partner Vojtech was already in Asia. I had always considered Asia to be a good entrepreneurial environment. Vojtech connected with me and Ivana about open positions in Indonesia. One thing led to another and now the three of us ended up managing the same company together.

The beginning was definitely not easy. I was lucky to have my friend who was already in Indonesia and recommended to me where to stay. It would have been more of a culture shock without him. I learned how to drive a scooter, and survived the Jakarta traffic. 

Jakub Smolka, Project Delivery Team, Port Cities Vietnam

2.    What were the main lessons you learned after years of living abroad?

In the beginning, I had this vision that I would continue at AIESEC for as long as possible, and eventually make progression in the corporate world in Europe, save some money and do more. 

Ultimately none of these things happened: what happened was seemingly a random series of events that popped up through a connection I made in AIESEC. The biggest lesson here is to not be afraid to take the opportunity when it comes.

My biggest concern about moving from Europe to Asia was if I didn’t succeed, if I didn’t pass my two-month probation, I would have to fly back to Europe and essentially start all over again.

In 2018, Vojtech and I took a 2-week trip to Vietnam and figured that Vietnam could be the ideal place to start our own company. It was an unforeseen option that Gaspard (CEO of Port Cities) offered us the opportunity to establish and manage a branch of Port Cities in Vietnam. Again, if we had been afraid and had stopped before even getting there, thinking “Oh, opening a business in Asia is too hard” or we weren’t good enough of consultants, we wouldn’t even have reached the point where Gaspard said, “Hey, let’s do it together.”

It is all about the vision and direction. The reason I wanted to have my own business is that I wanted to be financially independent and free to do whatever I want when I want it, and how I want it. To travel, to experience and learn new things in my own way. Even after I failed to get the job I wanted and was wondering what step I needed to do next, this vision never disappeared. With Port Cities, we operate with the same vision: to provide valuable services, and provide IT systems well done, because more than often, they are not.

Jakub Smolka, Project Delivery Team, Port Cities Vietnam

3.    What would you have done differently in your past years being in management?

  • I would have definitely invested more time in people. Often when you are in a management position, you get too immersed in the daily operation of the company, you forget to spend time with people. It’s a lesson that I am still learning every day. 

  • To be able to say no to clients because some customers simply are not ready to have an IT system installed, without changing the mindset and expectations about the cooperation.

  • Another lesson I have learned is that I would never manage a business alone. Port Cities Vietnam grew much faster in the last few years simply because we had the people to focus on separate things. In the future, if I want to execute another business idea, it would be more "With whom can I do it?” and not "What idea of myself that I want to make happen”.

Want to be part of the Project Delivery Team at Port Cities? Check out our new job openings for Odoo Implementation Project Managers here.

17 June, 2021
Humans of Port Cities – Jakub Smolka
Jane Ha
Content Marketing Specialist
Jane Ha is a Content Marketing Specialist at Port Cities, with a passion for learning about technology, SEO and everything UI/UX. She has experience crafting content for different industries including Business Consulting, IT, and Tourism.
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