International Finance
July - August 2018MagazineOn the Job

ON THE JOB with Anna Hejka, CEO, Heyka Capital Markets Group

Anna Hejka
This multi-faceted businesswoman talks about the challenges and highs of chasing a high profile job, and how to be a strong female leader today

Can you tell us about your role in Heyka Capital Markets Group and your work as chairman of DasCoin?

I effectively structure legal entities, ecosystems and transactions using financial products tailored to changing macro conditions and micro requirements. I enable organisations to drive growth, improve business processes and increase corporate flexibility. I provide comprehensive support in leveraging emerging technological and social trends with high-level capital markets and corporate contacts and cross pollinating knowledge of many sectors in multi-cultural environments.

As a chairman of DasCoin Ltd. in Hong Kong, with other board members, we strive to enhance the value of the ecosystem using corporate governance to build and sustain trust and reputation promoting confidence among stakeholders and encouraging a corporate culture based on our values and industry’s best practice.

What is a day like in the life of an investment banker?
My days are long, full of responsibilities, impactful, competitive and analytical.

What do you cherish most about your job?
My job is my passion. Every day I meet new, great people, whom I help to fulfill their dreams and in turn, they help fulfilling mine. I love the permanent learning, and the lack of a routine.

What makes a person a strong leader?
Extraordinary commitment, outstanding quality of work and a creative approach to doing business; teamwork and placing stakeholders’ interests first are key in shaping a leader. Being a dynamic and innovative self-starter, turning challenges into opportunities, helping others achieve their goals, also make a leader strong.

What are your top five tips to be a strong and prominent female leader in a male-dominated career?

The tips are same as the tips to be a strong and prominent male leader. One has to be aware of:

  • Timing
  • Team, Execution, Adaptability, Purpose, Customers, Experiences and Emotions;
  • Idea, its USP, differentiation and sustainability
  • A business model and its purpose, impact, social mission, Go-2-Market Strategy, scale, speed of growth, profitability and the ability to reinvent a business
  • Funding, cash flow, governance, corporate culture and brand recognition.

What are the biggest challenges of establishing a company today and how to overcome them?
Establishing a company is becoming easier by the day. It is the survival that is becoming difficult. Today, only 100 companies (i.e. 0.1%) represent 23% of the total world market cap. The average company lifespan fell from 67 years in the 1920s to only 15 today; half of S&P 500 companies have disappeared in the last 20 years and 40% of Fortune 500 companies will no longer exist in the next 10 years. A BCG study found that public companies traded in the US now have a 33% chance of failing in the next five years, up from five percent just 50 years ago. In addition, half of digital companies are worried that their biggest revenue-creating products and services will no longer be attractive to the market within two years.

To stay competitive in the market, the following will ensure a company’s long-term survival and success:

Innovation epitomised by platforms that marry existing needs with existing assets to create brand new, super effective, practical and compelling products and services for rapidly growing communities; platforms being digitised, open and sharing business models creating scalable, complementary, commercially connected ecosystems of producers and consumers: virtual exchange enterprises for markets, ecosystems, networks and communities.

According to ReportWatch, a third of investment decisions are based on non-financial criteria. We place greater importance on engagement and integrity-based attributes such as being employee friendly (59%), listening to customers (59%), and exhibiting ethical and transparent practices (56%), than operational based attributes, including financial performance (36%). Building trust through transparent communications (82%), being honest regardless of how unpopular it is (81%) and engaging regularly with employees (80%).
The key to win big is the new paradigm of individual experience based on personalisation and engagement along with transparency and fairness focused on advantages rather than prejudice.

What is the most significant change that you brought to an organisation?
Apart from making start-ups thrive, I executed several large transactions such as a leveraged buyout of the largest e-commerce company in Central Europe, ABC Data in Poland and Actebis companies in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Czech Republic and Slovakia (€1.8bn revenues and CAGR of 25%) from a German Otto Group at a time of the financial crisis of 2008. This transaction required me to deal with 7 different jurisdictions, cultures and languages; 3 IT systems; multilevel acquisitions, working capital financing and refinancing; banking systems from 2 different eras; LBO; IPO.

What motivates you to be a leader?
There are two thoughts that keep me well-motivated:

  • An unceasing hunger for knowledge and desire to change the world.
  • A sense of fulfillment from empowering people.

What are the hiccups you face on a daily basis and how do you deal with them?
Procrastination of some people requires effective motivation and supervision and meandering bureaucracy, which further demand patience and cooperation.

What is your pre-work day routine?
I do not have one. Each day is different and I like it this way. I get up very early when most people are still asleep and sometimes go straight into my professional tasks. The quietness of such moments helps me focus and achieve the utmost efficiency. I like to go to our garden and pick organic fruits and herbs for a super healthy breakfast.

What is your message for business leaders in the making?
Peter Drucker once said: “The best method to predict the future is to create it.” I have created mnemonics of the key values I hold high and believe will help budding business enthusiasts:

  • Freedom to fulfill your potential you may not even be aware of today. Overcome external and internal barriers. Look for support and don’t be afraid to use it. Never be a victim!
  • Faith in the final success
  • Innovation is a survival instinct. Discover yourself, create your life, connect the dots and change the world
  • Vision without fear and limitations. Focus on your passion
  • Perseverance to fall in love with a problem, not the solution. Have great plans and plan carefully.
  • Knowledge based on passion. Take advantage of opportunities and serendipities. Surround yourself with enthusiasts
  • Value for others. Focus on individual end-to-end customer experience. Build a brand on your values and gain loyalty by resolving conflicts with class
  • Diversity in terms of orthogonal thinking with shared values, cooperation and implementation
  • Credibility based on being true to your values and promises as it builds charisma. Remember that companies with social mission consciously building intangible assets have stronger corporate culture, more loyal clients, easier recruitment and retention plus are media darlings.
  • Power over yourself.

So, “Here is to the crazy ones! Because the people, who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” (Steve Jobs) I could not say it any better.

About Anna Hejka:

Anna Hejka is the founder and CEO of Heyka Capital Markets Group, as well as serial entrepreneur, board member, investment and corporate banker in the US, Europe and Asia. She is also a lecturer in EMEA. Hejka was recognised by the World Economic Forum in Davos as a ‘Global Leader for Tomorrow’ and was selected as ‘One of 25 Best Managers in Finance by Home & Market’.

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