What’s Odyssey?

Odyssey is a mentoring program, where mentors from the rank of top managers devote their time to help talented women grow professionally. They share their know how, expertise and experience with their mentees and help them grow by building their self-confidence and broadening their professional networks.

Who established the program and who takes part?

The program was established by former Vodafone CZ CEO, Canadian Muriel Anton. And there are big names like Jan Bubeník, Senta Čermáková, Magdalena Souček, Dita Stejskalová and many more taking part in it since its establishment in 2010.

Why?

In Western countries, having a mentor at school, in sports or at the workplace is common. With your mentor, you can discuss your career, challenges in your life, changes or problems. The aim of Odyssey is to establish the culture of mentoring in the CEE region, where it has no tradition yet. And consequently, through this tool, to help raise the number of women in executive positions. It is proven that businesses with both men and women in the executive boards deliver better results.

In which countries do you operate and how many people do take part?

Odyssey was founded in 2010 in the Czech republic, where there are now over 300 members.
In 2014 Odyssey expanded to Slovakia and Hungary, 2016 to Bulgaria and from 2017 we are also in Singapore.

How does it work?

Mentors and mentees meet monthly for one year and discuss latest development in topics or issues they have initially agreed to be their main focus.

About the Founder, Muriel Anton

Former CEO, Vodafone Czech republic
Voted “Most influential businesswoman” three times in a row (2008, 2009, 2010)
Voted among the “Top ten most influential businesswoman of the decade” (2014)
Grew up in Edmonton, Canada
Originaly studied classical music and piano
Owns a cottage at Slapy, takes intensive Czech courses
Canadian Muriel Anton is the founder and General Manager of Odyssey, Chairwoman of the Supervisory Board and former CEO of Vodafone Czech Republic.

Canadian by origin, Muriel first came to the Czech Republic in 2000 to join the start-up of the mobile operator, Oskar, as Vice President for Finance. Her stay was supposed to be one year. But she stayed for more than a decade and later guided the company through its acquisition by Vodafone (2005) and became Vodafone’s CEO in 2008. Muriel is the type of leader that does not merely focus on the business but also on her employees' well-being and wider social and environmental responsibility. Thanks to her efforts, Vodafone launched many innovative programs and won more than 10 awards for CSR innovation, leadership and strategy.

In 2010 Muriel led the formation of a mentoring and a leadership program for Czech business women – Odyssey, which has now also been launched in Slovakia and is about to expand to Hungary and other CEE countries. In 2008, 2009, and 2010 she was voted the Most Influential Businesswoman by the renowned economic daily newspaper “Hospodářské noviny”, Woman Manager of the Year for 2009 and in 2014, she became on of the top ten “Most influential businesswomen of the decade”.

She originaly studied classical music and piano and only after that started business studies. Having spent more than a decade among Czechs influenced her to a degree where she bought herself a cottage at Slapy, where she spends nearly every weekend. She currently takes intensive courses of Czech language at the Charles University.
Photo to be downloaded here.


Stories of mentees

Radka

Radka found out that she’s pregnant with her second child soon after she started meeting her Odyssey mentor. After having spent her first maternity leave at home, she was sure she doesn’t want to quit working entirely. She wanted to stay with her beloved company, but ideally in a part-time assignment. But there’s an overall shortage of part-time jobs in the Czech republic (only 10% of all assignments are part time as opposed to 30% in Canada).
She went with her mentor over all possible scenarios and arrived at a perfect strategy how to create a new part-time position in her department. The strategy consisted of a plan how to announce this change to her boss, focusing on the many benefits this new situation will bring to her company. In the end, her boss accepted the plan without further discussion, even if part-time assignments weren’t at all common in his department. He wouldn’t probably feel so positive about Radka just stating that she’s pregnant. But a detailed and perfectly thought-through plan about how and when will Radka return back to work, won his trust.

Renata

Renata is a marketing director of a financial institution, whose brand she helped create almost from scratch. During her assignment, she worked hard to built a unique brand, which the public very soon recognized and got to like. Nevertheless, the necessary reorganization of the company caused by unstable economic situation, landed on Radka’s shoulders with no exception. She had to abandon the work she really loved and start looking for a suitable position. But it was clear that such a specialized function can only be found in large corporations, which narrowed the job search even further. So she made the search the main focus of her mentoring sessions and together with her mentor created a plan of an intensive job search. They worked on identifying her strongest assets, creating her personal brand and finding ways to “sell” herself and her bigest successes. Within a couple of months, Renata found an appropriate job, where she’s happy.

Alena

Alena is the Head of Digital marketing at a Group corporation owned by one of Czech’s most successful enterpreneur. The position she holds is a newly created one and the field of online marketing is therefore relatively new for everybody, including the top management. Approximately half a year after her appointment, she was about to have a big presentation in front of the executive board, including the owner himself. She was well aware of the fact that in just one short presentation, she has to explain the general working of the field, show the results of her team and legitimize her own position. Naturally, she felt very nervous. When consulting it with her Odyssey mentor, they agreed they would invite a journalist to help Alena clarify the message she wanted to convey and translate her speech to simplier terms, that even non-specialists would understand. That helped Alena significantly and she felt very confident at the presentation. Soon, she got an invitation to take part on the decision-making process of the whole Group.

The contents of the mentoring sessions are strictly confidential however aforementioned mentees have agreed to share their stories. Their names have been altered.

For more details, please contact us.