Ondrej Plesmid is the Chief Legal Officer at King’s Casino in the Czech Republic. His career as a lawyer started in a small law office, and he subsequently worked for over three years in the Czech Ministry of Finance and then the Ministry of Regional Development. In 2017 he moved to the private sector and started to work at King’s Casino.
CEELM: Did you always want to become a lawyer?
O.P.: As I remember, I always wanted to be a lawyer. There wasn’t any other option for my career and everything I did during my studies led me to reach my life’s dream. I always wanted to help others with a bigger global influence. Working as a lawyer gives me a lot of satisfaction – intellectual challenges, diverse practice areas, transferable skills, flexibility, and much more – so I never have the feeling that I have a boring job or that I made the wrong decision.
CEELM: You worked for quite a time in the public sphere for different Czech ministries. Why did you decided to return to private industry?
O.P.: As a lawmaker, you can have a global influence and be in quite a unique position to affect societal change. This is what I wanted to do in my career. Unfortunately, the Czech public sphere is quite ossified and at some point in my life I realized that it was not what I was looking for. Based on my experience, as a public servant you are rewarded mainly based on your served years, not based on your working results. The sentence which I heard most during my years as a civil servant was that I was too young, without the experience to have any good or useful ideas. Limited flexibility in internal communications, complex decision-making procedures, unclear structures, low-performing departments, and the absence of results-based orientation made me question whether this is what I really wanted to do. Because of all these, after finishing my projects, I decided to go private, even though jobs in the private sector can be unstable compared to those in the public sector.
CEELM: What difficulties/challenges do you face as an in-house counsel working in the gaming industry?
O.P.: At the end of 2016 the Czech Republic passed a new gaming law, which came into force in 2017. As one of the authors of this new law, I can clearly say that the main goal of the law was to bring logical regulation and modern trends to the Czech Republic. Unfortunately, the implementation of this law in the last few months has not been handled effectively and the Czech gaming industry has become over-regulated and unpredictable. From applying for licenses to communicating with supervising bodies, everything has become quite a challenge. As an international casino and one of the biggest poker rooms in the world, it is sometimes very difficult to catch up with competition under such conditions. Because of that, it is important for us to constantly communicate with the Czech gaming regulators.
CEELM: How would you ease the work of in-house lawyers if you had legislative powers?
O.P.: A few months ago, I realized how many regulations tie our society. I can hardly think of any part of my life which is not under the regulation of some law, very often with a lot of nonsensical conditions. If I would have legislative powers, my main goal would be to get rid of unnecessary regulation.
CEELM: What is your managerial style? How do you keep your team motivated and efficient?
O.P.: My managerial style is largely influenced by the advice of a successful businessman: “You can climb up on my back, or I will climb up on yours.” Even though I have very high and strict expectations, I would say that I see myself as a supporter or cheerleader of every member of my team. Give everybody a chance to grow and build things together, unless they show me the opposite. I’m not a fan of classic standard processes – I always try things in my own way and I have to say it always works. This is what I want from my team: to keep their minds open. I also do not require them to be in the office from 8 am to 4 pm. Honestly, I do not really care from where and when they work. My only requirement is that they have their work done. But to be honest, I believe that to keep your team motivated and efficient mainly depends on the members of your team. Because of that I am very strict when choosing a new member for my team. I am very glad and thankful for the team and coworkers I have now, because we have built up a very friendly work environment.
CEELM: Where would you organize a team building exercise?
O.P.: I am a very active person so I am pretty sure I would go for some outdoor activities where we can work as a team.
CEELM: What is your favorite tourist destination and why?
O.P.: I do not think that I have only one favorite destination. I love traveling itself; it does not matter if it is a city, or the desert, or mountains, as long as I can get to know new places, people, food, and enjoy life.
This Article was originally published in Issue 5.8 of the CEE Legal Matters Magazine. If you would like to receive a hard copy of the magazine, you can subscribe here.