Tereza Vítková
CzechTrade Mexico City
Expert Contributor

Mexico, Czech Republic: Faraway Countries with Many Similarities

By Tereza Vítková | Thu, 10/01/2020 - 09:00

Three years ago, I came to work in Mexico and life here has taught me many things. Not only have I come to know this country, which fulfills me both personally and in my work, but thanks to living abroad, I also realized what the Czech Republic, where I was born and where I lived for 24 years, means to me. Since I turned 18, I have been running away from my homeland. It seemed to me that I did not belong there. Even though I lived in the Czech Republic, I did not really know it and I did not even want to. I knew that my life was beyond its borders and I pursued my goal.

When I was a girl growing up in a village of 800 inhabitants, I visited Prague, a city populated by over a million people. It made me realize how many interesting cultures exist in the world. I desired to get to know them deeply: I started to learn English, followed later by Spanish. Back then, I had no idea that this feeling would accompany me all my life. After a visit to Spain, the desire to get to know something distant, something exotic in our eyes, had awoken in my heart and I decided to go on a half-year study program to Mexico. The country filled me with inexpressible energy and enthusiasm for life. I had the feeling that this was the place where I belonged. When I was offered a job at the state agency CzechTrade, I did not wait long to answer.

Working at CzechTrade was a dream come true because its goal is something I had been trying to achieve during my studies: to connect distant and culturally different worlds (the Czech Republic and Mexico). The state agency, which supports Czech exports, is affiliated with the Ministry of Industry and Trade in the Czech Republic. CzechTrade’s international offices can be found in almost 60 countries worldwide. Our support is offered mostly to small and medium-sized enterprises that want to enter international markets. We are able to offer them complex services for this purpose, such as drawing up an analysis, as well as founding an international subsidiary.

For Czech companies, we look for a partner in the target market, organize business meetings, to which we accompany them, plan the logistics for their business trips to Mexico, organize their international presentations at trade fairs and very often take over the role of their representative. We also help them with exports, offering legal consulting and consultations in matters of founding a company abroad. We are aware that entering the Mexican market requires a great deal of patience and effort; therefore, we try to build long-term relationships with companies. Often, the business relationship turns to friendship and to great confidence in our office. We play the same role not only in Mexico, but also in the Czech Republic, where we educate Czech companies and express the perspective of the Mexican market through webinars, presentations or roadshows, which lead us directly to the companies’ headquarters.

Our most important role is to use our knowledge of both nations regarding questions of culture to prevent a rash end to cooperation. The main reason for any unsuccessful outcome is a lack of understanding between the companies, not only language-wise but also regarding the unwritten rules within Czech and Mexican companies.

To prevent these situations, it is necessary to find binding elements between Czech and Mexican companies because this is the only way to create consistent and long-term partnerships, which can turn to friendship over time. During work lunches and dinners between Czech and Mexican businesspeople, I tend to become an observer, analyzing the situation around me in detail. I turned to this role during a lunch between the Czech company Chudej, a producer of linear gutters and floor drains, and its Mexican distributor. Although these gentlemen were meeting for the first time and I had to interpret the whole conversation, they were connected by their passion for good food and by some car brand. Within a short time, a solid friendship was born. Many Latino Americans consider Czech people “cold” and reserved. But give us some time to gain confidence and open up because when this happens, it means unconditional friendship. That also applies to the business world and my experience with Chudej and its Mexican partner only confirmed it.

Another important binding element between these two nations is being open-minded and flexible, which is demonstrated by Czech companies through sensitivity to their clients, which they often win over thanks to a personal approach and adjustment of their goods based on client requirements. Sometimes we may be too detail-oriented but we work on product development until we are sure of its quality and precision. Generally, Czech and Mexican companies have the following in common: we are distrustful at first and we are rather hesitant to express concerns regarding cooperation with our partners. On the other hand, both Mexicans and Czechs can be hardworking, humble and honest.

Life abroad and working with Czech companies has shown me what the Czech Republic really means. Thanks to this experience, I started to appreciate and understand my own country. I realized that even though the size of the Czech Republic is similar to Jalisco and the number of people is fewer than 11 million, we are a creative and clever nation that produces everything except rockets (but we deliver parts for their production, too). We are among nine countries worldwide that are able to develop and build an airplane within its territory; we are a great power in the field of engineering, defense, nanotechnology, ICT and others.

To connect both worlds requires a great deal of patience, persistence, understanding, respect and the ability to leave prejudices behind. This can also make the whole process faster. Behind a successful business, do not look only for a product of good quality and a marketing campaign; look also at the human side, which is just as important. Mexico has shown me that Czechs can unite all these elements and have business success worldwide. Thank you, Mexico, for letting me get to know my own country.

Photo by:   Tereza Vítková