Interview with Alice Foldynova, Association Management Director

Date 18.10.2021

Alice Foldynová works at GUARANT International (GI) as the Director of the Association House department. She graduated in Biochemistry at the Faculty of Science, Charles University. She worked as a Marketing and Sales Director in an advertising agency, in a football club, in a risk management company and as a Sales Director in a market research and data analysis company. She joined GI in 2019. The department is purely composed of women, the Association House’s clients are domestic and international professional companies, mainly from medical fields. Alice is very friendly and always helpful to all managers and assistants on the team. She is actively involved in the strategic planning and operation of all of GI.


Alice, how did your journey to GI begin?

I joined the company in October 2019. I liked GI for many reasons. I knew I didn’t want to work in a corporation where moving and changing things quickly was usually not possible. GI is a medium-sized company, the owners are still actively involved in the running of the company, and despite relatively large growth, the company has retained elements of a family atmosphere. Already during the first interview, I was very positively impressed by the GI environment and my first impression was further enhanced by my colleague Tomáš Chotěnovský, who was my very first contact when entering the company premises and absolutely captivated me with his professional and pleasant demeanor.


One of the most important points for my decision was that I was able to speak in person with the owners of the company during the job interview, which allowed me to get input from literally the best source and also to set goals and expectations realistically with each other. From the first moment, we felt that the agreement, both verbally and hand-shaken, was valid at GI and after two years I can only confirm this to be true.


How is working with associations specific?

Each field has its own specifics, in our case these are professional associations, which are not the main employment of our clients. They work for associations in their spare time and also live around the world in different time zones, so we have to accept a slightly different organization of work. It is clear that sometimes our working hours extend into weekends and evenings, so that we are able to reconcile with our clients. However, this is not a problem for me. I have always had a job where a lot of flexibility was needed. Another specificity is that at Association House we have a responsibility not only towards our employer, GI, but we feel the same and we must feel responsible in all respects and for the companies of our clients that we help manage and develop, and so we literally sit in the middle of both sides.


What motivates you the most at work?

It is a summary of several aspects. Our clients are non-profit organizations including doctors, veterinarians and scientists. Helping to develop and keep these organizations running is work that makes sense. I am motivated by small successes and praises that come from clients, all the more so in the time of “Covid”, which is very difficult for everyone. It’s about overcoming obstacles and achieving something. I am also motivated by our team, which is great both professionally and personally. At work, you spend a large part of your life, and you should like to go there and work with the people you love. It is not only within my department, but also across the company, which employs a lot of people with whom I have established a pleasant relationship and work well with. It is also relationships with clients, with whom, despite the difficulties during this time, we strengthened and developed relationships and moved projects further. This always motivates me immensely.


When something is hard, I take it on all the more. In the past, I have experienced that when it was an extremely complex project and we managed it with the team and clients, it was not only a great feeling, but it also resulted in long-term business partnerships and friendships. In general, I also perceive complicated periods or projects as a time of opportunity. It is also a time that shows who is a fighter, a team player and who has a “goal”.


How do you work in a virtual environment?

I got on very well with virtual work. During COVID times, we of course started to use virtual tools more than in the past. I especially welcome the acceleration, cost reduction and increased work efficiency in situations where virtual helps save time. On the other hand, I am a relationship person and I think that virtual will not replace everything, so I look forward to meeting with colleagues and clients in person again. I’m looking forward to real-life events, but I’ll be happy if the part that has meaningfully moved into the virtual world remains.

How did GI fight the pandemic?

I think that GI, despite how much COVID has been affecting and still affects us, has dealt with the abnormally difficult situation very well. It’s all about timely and good decisions, reactions and measures that weren’t popular, but which paid off in the end. It’s about temperance, saving, reorienting business and performance to the virtual world and actively finding new ways. We were lucky that many clients did not cancel events, but only postponed them. We all see that many companies in the market are done. GI has never given up, and on the contrary, we are evolving and moving forward.

The Association House even increased aktivity during COVID. Thanks to the limitation of physical events, we have the opportunity to develop projects with clients that would normally most likely never be brought to life. At the same time, we prepared a rebranding of Association House during the pandemic. Some people have wondered that in a time of uncertain pandemics, why are we preparing a rebranding when no one knows how things will turn out. Nonetheless, even in these uncertain times, we are looking ahead and planning with a long-term perspective.