CEO Pavel Riegger on Trask's American Dream: From Local Success to Global Influence
Expanding Horizons: Trask's Journey from Europe to America
The Czech technology company Trask, already a leading firm within Europe's borders, is expanding into North America. "Our mission is to help our clients become more effective and productive while enhancing their customer experience. We are optimistic about extending our unique solution delivery experience to North America, which is crucial for Trask to maintain its market-leading growth and generate value for our clients, associates, and shareholders," says Trask's CEO Pavel Riegger, the driving force behind this expansion, in our interview.
On the topic of expanding to New York, Riegger shares, "New York is challenging, yet it feels like a second home. It teaches you to form new friendships, build a new community, and become self-sufficient to thrive. Sinatra said it best: 'If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere,'" he reflects, drawing on his personal experience living in the city.
What does America mean to you?
For me, America was always a place I wanted to explore. My impressions of America were shaped in my youth by shows like Melrose Place and Beverly Hills 90210, and later by the movie Wall Street. As a result, I seized an opportunity to go on a high school exchange program to Michigan. Cold, cold Michigan. Eventually, I found myself working in New York at the top of the industry.
My career began with Arthur Andersen, a time when the Big Four accounting firms were the Big Five. My clients included prestigious names in investment banking, such as J.P. Morgan, Deutsche Bank, and Goldman Sachs.
When Arthur Andersen faced bankruptcy, my stay in America was threatened. In response, I quickly transitioned to Goldman Sachs, one of the world's leading investment banks. Working from the southernmost building in Manhattan was an intensely demanding period, with long hours and often over the weekends.
So how did you get to Trask?
My time at Goldman Sachs was an exciting and rewarding experience, but I was compelled to venture into my own business. So I decided to leave Goldman, return to Europe, and many found this decision surprising. Following this, I joined Ernst & Young and started consulting practice for banks. We experienced rapid growth during that time, from less than a ten percent market share in Central and Eastern Europe to a third.
Although I held a senior position at EY and could have vied for the regional head role, I felt trapped in a 'golden cage.' I questioned my future and my ability to progress further. Internal politics can make the decision-making process frustratingly slow in large corporations.
At this time, I was approached directly by the founders of Trask. I must admit I hesitated initially. However, after conducting due diligence, I concluded that joining Trask could lead to something remarkable.
What is the remarkable potential you see for Trask?
I firmly believe that Czech professionals seasoned with international experience, can compete with global corporations and deliver substantial value to the world's leading companies. This is our vision, and our goal is to make it a reality. We are not shy about our aspiration to list on the American stock exchange, Nasdaq. We are keen on conducting an Initial Public Offering (IPO). Trask has the potential to meet this challenge.
The prerequisites to list on Nasdaq are demanding. You must have an annual revenue of at least USD 250 million, be profitable for at least three years, and meet a specific market cap. These are the current goals for Trask, and we are fully committed to achieving them. But numbers are not the most important thing. Crucial is creating value for our clients, enrich environment for our people and allow them to work on challenging projects and finally that we have a strong presence in the US and Canada.
What unique opportunities does America present?
For example, unlike in Europe, where I rarely carry cash, the US still heavily relies on checks. The American banking sector presents unique opportunities for us due to the sheer volume of clients, number of transactions. So, we must remember that we are dealing with a different scale altogether.
What does Trask bring to the table?
At the core of every company are its people. Even Elon Musk could not have built Tesla by himself. I am confident that the quality of the individuals we have here at Trask and our ability to attract top talent is at least on par with what I have seen at Ernst & Young and other multinational corporations. So that is certainly great news!
Our practical strength lies in our ability to blend various skills, from technology to business and from integration to testing. No single person in the world has mastered all these competencies perfectly; that would require a Superwoman or Superman. So, we assemble the best people in each field to form a unified team capable of addressing such a multidisciplinary requirement.
Probably the most visible hype in IT is artificial intelligence. Is it a threat to Trask’s plans?
No, quite the opposite. We need to continuously explore avenues where we can utilize technology in our work. Make our work more efficient and faster. However, dealing with large volumes of data or encountering a complex problem compels us to think critically. AI is on the rise, but it's like autonomous driving, getting better every day, but still not there yet. We do not just mindlessly write a line of codes. Failing to reflect on what is needed and how to achieve it can lead to undesirable outcomes, such as a truck getting stuck on a pedestrian bridge because the driver blindly followed the navigation.
The same principle applies to programmers. They might make significant errors like the truck driver if they do not continually engage their critical thinking while working. Therefore, while artificial intelligence will accelerate processes and simplify tasks, there is an inherent risk. If we stop applying critical thinking, we might metaphorically 'fall into the pond.'
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