Leadership Insight:
Marie Havlíčková

Leadership Insight | June 2024

Meet Marie Havlíčková, our SVP of Strategy based in Czechia 🇨🇿

Before joining Groupon in September 2022, Marie made her mark at Slevomat, a Groupon-like business in the Czech Republic. During her tenure at Slevomat, she assumed various roles as a City Manager and Head of E-commerce division, ultimately reaching the pinnacle of leadership as the CEO in 2014. Her mission was to guide Slevomat through a transformation towards becoming an experiential marketplace, and she also led the company during its acquisition by Secret Escapes in 2017. Now, in her role as SVP of Strategy at Groupon, she brings a wealth of experience and a unique perspective gained from leading the local marketplace.

Harnessing Unconventional Paths to Drive High Performance in Leadership

Throughout my career, spanning roles from CEO at Slevomat to my current position at Groupon, I have consistently demonstrated that high performance in leadership does not spring from traditional backgrounds or linear career paths. Instead, it arises from a relentless commitment to learning, adapting, and innovating—qualities that transcend conventional educational routes.

Embracing Diverse Experiences

My journey in leadership began uniquely. With a master's in humanities rather than a formal business education, I stepped into the role of CEO at the young age of 26. This unconventional start forced me to adopt a hands-on approach to learning and to challenge the status quo continually. At Slevomat, this meant aligning our company culture directly with our business mission, evolving our product marketing strategies, and shifting our business tactics dynamically to meet market demands. These efforts were not about quick wins; they involved deep, collaborative transformations across all departments, illustrating that significant changes are marathon efforts, not sprints.

Strategic Innovations at Groupon

Now at Groupon, my focus has shifted but the essence remains the same. Strategy formulation and execution, guided by principles of the Blue Ocean Strategy, dominate my agenda. This strategic framework encourages me to redefine market boundaries and focus on untapped market spaces, steering clear of the competitive red oceans. Moreover, my role involves a heavy emphasis on product marketing and (re)prioritization—crucial elements in communicating our actions effectively and leveraging them to enhance our value proposition.

Building Teams and Culture

One of my core beliefs is that building a strong team and a cohesive company culture is paramount. This belief stems from my initial experience as a young leader, where I leaned heavily on my team, investing substantial effort into creating an environment that unites and motivates. This investment in people has paid dividends, fostering a workplace where loyalty and mutual support are the norms. This is evident from the strong bonds I maintain with former colleagues, many of whom were quick to offer their support as I transitioned to Groupon.

Lessons in Leadership

The lessons I've learned along the way are numerous, but one stands out: Performance in leadership is not dictated by one's academic background but by their ability to foster innovation, prioritize effectively, and most importantly, unite and lead a team towards a common goal. My journey underscores that leadership excellence comes from leveraging one's unique strengths and experiences to inspire and drive teams forward.

In conclusion, my trajectory in leadership highlights a broader lesson applicable to all aspiring leaders: embrace your unique background, seek out diverse experiences, and focus on continuous learning and adaptation. This approach not only enriches your leadership style but also enhances the overall performance and competitiveness of the organizations you lead.