WHERE ARE THEY
Viktorie Hradská: Time for a change
Written by: Monika Mudranincová
What ever happened to a well-known
arms merchant, whose name regularly filled the pages of newspapers
in the mid-nineties? The director of the joint-stock company RDP
Group weathered ten years of ups and downs, and she now feels that
a career change is overdue.
PRIOR TO HER REBIRTH as an entrepreneur, Viktorie Hradská (59)
worked for 16 years at the Institute for Philosophy and Sociology
of the Academy of Sciences. She made translations from Hungarian,
and she wrote many plays, the most famous of which is "Commedia
finita", which deals with the life of the opera vocalist Ema
Destinová. After 1989 she worked as an internal consultant at the
Office of the Czech Government and as a deputy minister for the
Committee for International Relations. Her contacts in the government
and those acquired during her foreign travels contributed to her
being selected as general director of a group, which brought together
39 Czech arms manufacturers.
"My assignment was clear," Hradská says about her mission
in RDP Group. "I was to create a group of entities interested
in the field and to open doors to foreign markets for our arms exporters."
She now admits that this was a utopian vision that she was able
to implement only with great difficulty, as individual arms manufacturers
were focused more on their individual interests than on the group's.
Additionally, the competitors, especially Omnipol, complained that
her firm was receiving advantages from the then interior minister
Ruml, who gave RDP Group an order to sell off the surplus military
arsenal. "I have no personal ties with Minister Ruml. Our job
was to find the ministry a buyer, for which we received five percent
of the sale price," explains Hradská.
Last year was a very bad one for her. She was afflicted with a long-term
illness, and in the wake of the terrorist attacks of 11 September
2001, some major markets became closed to RDP Group. However, Hradská
believes that the company's economic situation will improve, thanks
to such events as last year's NATO summit. She points out that doing
business in the arms industry is very difficult for a woman. "If
I were merely some man's assistant, I would probably not encounter
so many problems. I want to be an equal partner, and so I often
face misunderstanding," Hradská notes, adding that she set
a ten year deadline for her engagement in business which expires
next year. "I am looking forward to return to publishing and
translating activities soon, remaining in the arms industry only
as a member of a board of directors," she says.