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Interview: From rubber boots to high-heel shoes

Text by: Maryla Adamčíková, Kateřina Sikorová 

After twenty years as a freelancer, she has become an indispensable member of the expedition in our printery. In today’s interview, I introduce you to Kateřina Sikorová, a lady with personal charm and incredible drive, both in her professional and personal life.

Katka, how is life in Oldřichovice on the farm?
It’s great, we have a good atmosphere and wonderful neighbours. Only few people know what peasants we are. We farm, we have ten hectares of meadows and woods and five cows. We breed a French Charolais fat cow. I came from a small house to live on my husband’s farm. Next year it will be thirty years that we have been together and twenty-two years since we were married. We have cows for meat, all the milk is for the calves. We calved five cows last year, it is our big achievement that every cow had a calf. We started with two and now we have thirteen head of cattle.

Who takes care of the cattle?
My husband and I. Juráš has a carpenter’s shop and we both have “farming” as a hobby after work. I like the fact that I can dress nicely for work and it’s no problem for me to come home, change into my work clothes and continue working on the farm. If you saw me and Juráš waiting all night for the cow to calve…

Can you calve a cow?
Yeah, I can. I even calved a cow myself when Juráš went to the construction. The most important thing is that the calf breathes immediately after birth, and within an hour it has to drink the colostrum, the first milk. Then he’ll get the strength to get back on his feet. Both my husband and I have a degree in agriculture, so we’d have the theoretical knowledge. But it was the practice that taught us the most. Sometimes it’s quick and easy, but we’ve also been up all night in the barn calving. It’s always a small miracle when we get a healthy calf.

Kate, who taught you that?
Life, Marylka. My parents didn’t at all. We only had seven acres of land and three rabbits at home, so nobody taught me.

Where does it come from in a man to care for such a farm and cows?
My husband’s family has a 400-year-old farm that has been passed down through the generations. And my husband just grew up on it. We’ve been together since we were 18, I never saw it as a hard work. But over time, you get to know the work, and that’s what we’re leading our daughters to do now, our older daughter Zuzana and our younger daughter Anna. May they cherish their inheritance and land and pass the farm back to their children. We took over the care from my husband’s parents and we are glad that his 84-year-old mother Irenka is still helping us with good advice. Her life experience is a constant inspiration for us.

What else are you going to surprise us with?
I have a tractor license, and when I need to, I get behind the wheel and drive. Then I like to trade in my rubber shoes for dancing shoes because my husband and I have been taking advanced dance lessons for a couple of years now. Dancing is my passion. I really appreciate it when my husband bites the bullet and comes dancing with me. Juráš is my prize in life.

What do you like to do, what are your other hobbies?
We have a lot of hobbies, we don’t like boredom and doing nothing. Where to start? We travel with a nice group of people to explore, we prefer short intense trips. In May we are going to Porto in Portugal. We’ve been to Sicily, London, Rome, Budapest, Vienna and Warsaw together, and we love exploring metropolises. There are a lot of interesting places in the world that would be nice to see. Perhaps one day time and work will allow us to explore more exotic places. My travel dreams are national parks in Africa and a pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela.

In winter we ski in the Alps, in the Beskydy Mountains we prefer cross-country skiing. All year round we play volleyball regularly. For our group we organize a summer “barn party” every year, and in the winter “Christmas singing” in the barn, we cheer for B7, so all great events. When we have time, my husband and I ride our Harley, it’s not a comfortable bike, but it’s stylish, but it’s not for big trips. Our favorite routes are to Slovakia or Poland. Because we live under the Maple tree, we ride mountain bikes. I’m a bit of a cheat. I have an electric bike, so it’s no problem for me to go up any hill. Let my husband do the work and I’ll ride like a lady. In return, I’ll help him in the woods with the wood. Sometimes it’s hard to decide whether to go on a motorcycle trip or a bike trip.

You still get quite a lot done while working on the farm, what is the top for you?
My husband and I also like to renovate. We built our own sauna in a former barn. Where my father-in-law once stabled his horses, we now relax. Sauna time is our biggest hobby. It’s a cleansing of the body and soul. We enjoy it especially after working in the fields. You just go to the sauna after you are done with cows. For example, yesterday we “puked” a bale of hay, in the mud that’s out there right now, and then we went for a sauna.

How was your journey to FINIDR? Why did you choose our printhouse?
I have been at FINIDR for a year and a half, before that I worked in transport for twenty years. As a freight forwarder, I used to provide trucks for various customers. We delivery to zinc plants all over Europe. Logistics came to me by chance. After graduating from the Higher School of Economics, I went to a selection process at a logistics company. I was so enthusiastic about the job of dispatcher that I stayed with it. After maternity leave, a colleague and I started a small forwarding company. This had a big advantage, because with small children I was the master of my time. My daughters slowly grew up and I didn’t feel any progress on myself or on the company anymore. So, I was flirting with the idea of starting elsewhere, trying something new, maybe at a bigger firm. Well, since books are a beautiful commodity and in these overly digital times we need to support books, FINIDR was the obvious choice.

How big change was that?
It was challenging at first, but I am happy that my decision to change was the right one. Fortunately, I’ve always enjoyed coming to work and I still do. I look forward to going to work, I’m not the type of person who is nervous about having to go to work on a Sunday night. It’s a great happiness for me that I find work fulfilling. I’m happy that my work is meaningful and I feel good about the outcome. What I appreciate about FINIDR is the opportunity to continually educate and work on myself.

One can’t help but compare what it’s like to work for yourself and as an employee of a printing house?
Working “on your own” has the advantage of being the master of your time. At the same time, there is the risk of business, the uncertainty of an ever-changing market situation.

My task after joining FINIDR was to streamline shipping costs so that individual jobs were bundled together. Furthermore, to create a system for announcing unloading and unloading windows, which we have successfully done, and we continue to work on improving it. On dispatch, we plan transportation so that orders go to the right place, in the right car, at the lowest possible cost.

Kate, how we can imagine your workday?
We have a system in which I create demands for transports that consist individual orders. I send the requests to the carriers, then I evaluate the offers (the price and quality of the offered services are decisive). The selected carriers receive a binding order from us. The most important thing is that all orders are delivered on time. The newly introduced software for efficient transport planning helps me to do this. I work with a lot of criteria that I must consider, such as unloading time, vehicle type, pallet quantity, weight and destination. All the time, until the last order is placed, I must keep track of whether everything is going well and there is no risk of delays for delivery. Another part of my job description is matching incoming invoices from the carrier with the shipment to quantify the cost of the order.

Shipping is the final link in the book production process, and your future work depends on the timely delivery of the finished product. How does it work?
We all have one common goal, a satisfied customer. Closely related to this is our cooperation with the bindery and the mutual morning meetings. I like to hear that everything is done. It makes our work go better. Something unexpected can always happen. I have to work with stress, there is never certainty in transport. A car can break down, sometimes it gets stuck in traffic, or we have to wait for all the books to be made. Then even the carrier is nervous, his performance goes down and he has to wait for us. But that’s our daily bread. The people are also important, all the co-workers I come into contact with. My colleague Monika is exactly the kind of person I would wish for everyone. She is caring, helpful, always willing to help and has a sense of humour. I don’t like backchat and cranky behaving. It doesn’t cost anything to smile.

I’m an optimist and I look on the bright side of life. I would be happy if we had that in FINIDR. So, let’s be nice and helpful to each other and life will be beautiful.

Katka, thank you for the nice chat.

Kateřina Sikorová

Sign: Cancer

What I appreciate most in co-workers Caring, helpfulness and positive attitude

Last time I read Confessions of a parish priestess

My favorite dance is waltz and tango

We named our last calf …no calf has a name, they’re all Čiča

I dream of Cameroonian goats and travelling across the world in a caravan