Jakub Ondroušek is the Communications leader at Honeywell Technology Solutions in Brno. He studied business, management and marketing at the Queen Margaret University in the United Kingdom and gained foreign work experience as a marketing specialist in Scotland. BEC asks him about the business Honeywell does in Brno.
How would you describe the business Honeywell does globally to someone who does not have a clue?
Honeywell is a global company that is a technology and manufacturing leader. We serve customers worldwide, especially in the business of Aerospace and Automation and Control Solutions for both homes and industries. We also do research and development (R&D) in transportation systems such as turbochargers.
How many employees does Honeywell have globally and how many in the Czech Republic?
Altogether, it is 132 thousand employees. In the Czech Republic, we have over 4000 employees and about half of them work in Brno.
We are part of the Honeywell Technology Solutions research centres and locally have roughly 1500 engineers. Other centres are based in China, India and other cities in the Czech Republic. Brno is the biggest Honeywell research and development centre in Europe.
Is Honeywell primarily a B2B business or do you sell directly to customers, too?
It depends. We have a marketing and sales office in Prague and we sell special products to our end customers. But here in Brno we are focused on R&D, we for example work on big projects in Aerospace or Transportation Systems where we work closely with our partners, so we are a B2B business.
In the aerospace area we develop avionics such as navigation for planes that help safe landing when there is fog. We cover R&D for small business jets.
And what kind of products do you sell to your end customers?
Smart solutions for buildings and homes that have to do with energy management, for example thermostats.
How long has Honeywell been active in Brno?
We started in 2003 here, and then we became part of the big R&D network called the Honeywell Technology Solutions in 2006. Currently the Center of Excellence in Brno is the largest and most modern research center of Honeywell in Europe.
Has your foreign crew changed over the time?
It expanded. We have employees from North and South America, from Asia, from Europe. There are almost 30 different nationalities. We are happy about that because we truly believe that diversity supports creativity. That is very important in R&D. Therefore our working language is English.
How do people from Azerbaijan or the UK learn about a job possibility in Brno?
As a cutting-edge hub, Brno is quite well-know. We have a very skilled domain here, a good engineering background, and famous tradition such as the Kaplan’s turbine; there are universities that start to be really visible. Foreigners who know about Brno and want to come work here can look up our job offers online.
Predominantly, we work with Czech universities and most our engineers are Czech. The market is getting very competitive, though, so we look outside the Czech Republic as well.
Once you attract the perfect employee, how long do they stay with you?
We have employees who have been with us for 10 years, from the very beginning. We have lots of programs to ensure a nice work environment and make the workplace attractive. Foreigners are happy here because the city is becoming very international.
What factors do you think attract foreigners to Brno?
I think the most important thing is the work content – we have a nice portfolio of activities, develop interesting products and do some exciting research using cutting-edge technologies. I also think that the South Moravian region is great in hospitality, there are lots of cultural events, and most people can understand English.
What do they usually miss here?
They find the infrastructure lacking. We don’t really have any connection to big hubs; there aren’t many flights from Brno. This is a big obstacle for Honeywell. We would like to have some connection to Frankfurt or Munich that would enable us to travel to the USA or India more easily.
What could our municipality do to make Brno more attractive to foreign professionals?
I see potential in getting inspired by cities such as Edinburgh or Copenhagen where they try to be as open to people as possible. There are cycling paths everywhere. I think we still miss the international flavour of the city. We should focus on internationalizing the environment more so that we don’t lose the competitive edge. For example shop assistants need to understand at least some English. This will take a couple of years I guess.
Or generations. But people are very hospitable here and I think we are on a good path.