Behind the scenes of Caritas Czech Republic: Finances and Iraq with Michaela Čermáková
September 6, 2021 News

Behind the scenes of Caritas Czech Republic: Finances and Iraq with Michaela Čermáková

Would you like to know more about the humanitarian aid and development cooperation department in Caritas Czech Republic? We are launching a series of interviews with our colleagues who will tell you more about our work across the world. Our first interview is with Michaela Čermáková, a senior financial coordinator at our international section. A big part of non-profit aid is money and Michaela will therefore talk us through how Caritas works with finances. She will also tell us about her trip to visit Caritas’ mission in Iraq.

How long have you been working at Caritas Czech Republic and how did you end up here?

This July marked my 2 year anniversary of working at Caritas. I got here through a classic selection procedure. I saw a job ad, applied, succeeded and started working here as financial coordinator for Georgia – which I did for almost a year.

What was it about Caritas that caught your eye?

I used to work in a small non-profit abroad and I wanted to go back to the Czech Republic. At the same time, I felt it was the right time for me to develop professionally and start working in a bigger organisation. I knew I wanted to work in the non-profit sector and there was something about humanitarian and development aid that appealed to me. Caritas Czech Republic mostly pulled me in by the job description and I also really liked the organisation itself.

What do you enjoy the most about working at Caritas?

There is definitely a lot to it. Firstly, I like that I can do what I’m good at – working with numbers and finances – and develop myself at it. I love the atmosphere and the work environment; I like working with my colleagues and with my supervisors. I don’t feel any rivalry within the team, we all support each other. I don’t ever have to be afraid of talking to my supervisors even about any issues, as I know that we will always strive to find the best solution – together.

Michaela started working in Caritas as financial coordinator for Georgia

How did the financial side of humanitarian aid and development cooperation change in the past few years?

More than about change, I think it’s about growth. When I look at the projects coming from our department, they are exponentially increasing each year – not only in the quantity but also regarding the finances surrounding them. We also gain a lot of new donors each year. The whole field is expanding a lot in all different directions.

What are some of the challenges that you encounter in your position?

Very often a big challenge is time. For example, when we work on more projects at the same time and we have tight deadlines that we have to keep up with. At the same time, there are sometimes new situations emerging that we have to deal with and that we haven’t encountered before. Therefore, we have to come up with our own solutions to them, which can be challenging.

What exactly are your responsibilities as a senior financial coordinator?

Basically, I provide support to all individual financial coordinators. For example, if they need help, we work together and come up with solutions. At the same time, I create and edit our financial tools that we use. And finally, together with my supervisor, our financial manager Jitka, we run the financial management of our section.

How is your normal work day like?  

That depends on whether I’m at the office or, now in the times of covid, working from home. Usually, I have around one or two meetings with individual financial coordinators a day, be it online or offline. We normally talk about what’s happening at individual missions and how is everything looking from the financial side of things. I also spend a few hours a day on a variety of different tasks like for example monthly checking of salaries or overlooking the spending of different projects. It’s hard to describe my day because each day is so different. Very often I have the whole day planned out and then someone calls me that this and that happened at this and that mission and I spend my whole doing something completely different than I envisioned.

Michaela recently visited the Iraqi mission of Caritas Czech Republic

Recently, you’ve travelled to Iraq to kick off a big project in the Heet region – what makes this project so special?

Particularly its size. It is the biggest project that Caritas has ever run. To visualise it, all last year’s projects together were the same size (money-wise) of this one project that will be running for 14 months. It is therefore a huge amount of money for a relatively short-running project. 

What did you enjoy the most about visiting the Iraqi mission?

This was the first time I’ve ever been to Iraq and it was also the first time I’ve been to a Caritas’ mission. Personally, the thing I treasure the most is seeing all my colleagues finally face-to-face and not on skype. The personal contact is definitely better. And of course, I really enjoyed visiting a new country.

What do you do when you’re not at work? What are your hobbies?

I like taking trips all over the Czech Republic, for example in the nature. I also like to travel abroad, I love reminiscing about my trip to Indonesia, which completely took my breath away. I also like to do yoga.