Elizabeta is a technology journalist in Slovakia. Here she is with the Tesla Model S
Elizabeta is a technology journalist based in Slovakia. Here she is with the Tesla Model S

This week in the Changing Lanes interview series, we meet Elizabeta Harry Gavendova, a technology journalist from Slovakia. Imagine reviewing the latest smartphone and then finding a Tesla in your test schedule? This is Elizabeta’s life as a tech journalist with a media company in Slovakia! I think Elizabeta has an interesting and unique perspective on motoring. And the smartphone and technology industry is hardly that different to the car world. Every new product is ‘better’ than the one that went before – more power, new features, sleeker, lighter, ‘the best we ever made’!

In this interview Elizabeta gives us some insight into her world, with some nice cars dotted along her journey. No surprises her favourite feature in the car is good smartphone connectivity!

1. Can you introduce yourself to our readers in a few sentences?

Hi guys, I’m a Slovak technology journalist for more than 7 years. I work for a well-known Slovak newspaper and website Hospodarske noviny. It focuses on economics and politics, but there is also a Technology section that I am responsible for. I write articles, and shoot and edit videos for our own internet television too. Testing smartphones or other smart stuff is my daily routine, as were press conferences and travelling (before the corona times).

2. What attracted you to a career in journalism? Why technology?

I guess, it was destiny… but this destiny was called Johnny, haha. Well, I studied, travelled and worked abroad for a few years. Once I settled again back in Slovakia, my school friend Johnny told me I should audition for a technology TV show casting. I studied screenwriting and directing at film school and already had some experiences from local TV, so I tried it. I went through the casting and got the job at “World of Technologies”. Suddenly I became a screenwriter and reporter, and I had to study all tech and nerdie stuff – from smartphones, to smart homes and cars. A new era began for me and I fell in love with this. But learning about technologies is never-ending, “work in progress”…

Elizabeta and the BMW i8
Elizabeta and the BMW i8

3. What do you like most about your job?

I am grateful for the trust of my superiors (in my current and previous roles) and the opportunities they gave me. I love to talk about new products, try new technologies, take part in world events, where new things are launched. Be it new smartphones or any other technologies. I love the excitement of writing an article quickly to a deadline or shooting video at an event, express editing on the laptop in the hotel room, or just in the corridor backstage at the show. It is an honour to get early access to some cool stuff.

4. What’s your approach to reviewing products, be it a new smartphone or the latest new car?

Hmmm, my smartphones testing may not look like testing at all…I just use them like my daily driver, usually for two weeks. So, I have all my data, apps that I use, simply everything. I do not use any other smartphone at that time, so I really depend on this device. Whether it cost €150 or €1500. I notice how it behaves, if it is slow, fast, how is the gaming experience, I take pictures, videos and I compare with previous smartphones.

With cars – I do not test so much, maybe once a month. I started with electric cars, but now I try all kinds of power! During the week I drive just in the city, testing consumption over short distances. At the weekends, I go on longer journeys to get to know the car better. I also find a nice place to shoot them – and wash them before shooting. I’m not a real motor journalist (yet), I write more about technology than cars.

5. What can you tell us about the motor industry in Slovakia? What kind of trends do you see in the new car market? 

Fun fact, Slovakia is number one in car production “per capita” (car units made a year multiplied by the number of people). Jaguar Land Rover, Kia Motors, Volkswagen and PSA Group all have manufacturing facilities here.

I am not sure if Slovaks have any special preferences or trends but SUVs and crossovers are popular for families. We also feel familiar with Czech cars like Skoda, thanks to the former Czechoslovakia countries connection. Drag racing is popular too with competitions held to sprint up a hill called Pezinska Baba.

Elizabeta reporting on the latest technology products
Elizabeta reporting on the latest technology products

6. What has been the most interesting car to test and why?

Honestly, I try to be curious and excited about any car. But yeah, some experiences do leave a lasting experience. I was really amazed by the Rolls Royce Phantom. I promise, it was not just because of the luxury! But I liked that I could literally talk about that car for hours to introduce all of its interesting technology – great noise cancelling cabin, flying carpet approach, rear doors opening on the opposite side to what you are used to, star ceiling above your head, art gallery at the front passenger side, screens on the back seats. And of course, the V12 engine with more than 560 hp. I felt like I was behind the steering wheel of a huge ship. I also loved the BMW i8 and Tesla Model S90 D.

7. What’s your favourite technology feature in the car?

I am obsessed with good smartphone connectivity. As I change smartphones and cars all the time, I love to see at least something familiar on the main display – Android Car or Apple CarPlay. I joke that I always get lost using the original navigation systems from carmakers. So, I like Google Maps in the car with actual traffic information, voice messages, Siri assistant, my favourite music on Spotify… Modern infotainment systems give me my personal comfort in any car.

8. What have you learnt from your role about consumers and the way we interact with technology?

Lol, I learnt that sometimes you could try to give the best advice to consumers – but they still choose the other product, which doesn’t make sense at all! You advise them to choose one model because for example it has a great camera, but they still choose the worst model just because it has, let’s say, cooler design. I mean sometimes you can be sure you have a good product, but people may think differently to you. This is strange and exciting at the same time.

 

9. Favourite place in Slovakia for a road trip?

We have many castles and mountains so you can take a trip to places like Orava Castle, Bojnce Castle, Spis Castle, Hight Tatras. We have our own small “Route 66”, which goes across Slovakia from north to south. On this road you will find nice scenes and places of interest. One of the most beautiful roads is the route from Brezno through Telgart to Domasa. You can admire a cool looking viaduct in Telgart, Domasa dam, nice mountain at Kralova hola and more attractions.

10. What advice would you have for anyone who would like a career like yours?

If you really want to do that, study, observe, and be patient with tests and products. Also, watch older colleagues, experts, try to learn and absorb as much from them as you can. You do not have to agree with all of their opinions, but at least think about it. Do not think you are cleverer than others. Technology is such a great and huge field, you could miss some details. And then – just do it with passion.

Elizabeta shooting the Peugeot 208
Elizabeta shooting the Peugeot 208

Thanks to Elizabeta for taking part in this interview!

Stay up to date with Elizabeta’s adventures over on Instagram.

By Caroline Kidd