The story of Zdenek Bakala is both dramatic and inspiring. Born in communist Czechoslovakia, Bakala dreamt of making a better life for himself and fully believed that communism was destroying his country and preventing him from being the person he was meant to be. He had tremendous faith that he would one day make his escape and be able to follow his destiny.

The chance for escape presented itself when a 19 year old Bakala, who was laying bricks at the time, snuck across the border with his life savings ($50) hidden between 2 slices of bread. He risked his life for his dream and found him in Lake tahoe.

Here he survived by washing dishes in a casino for a time before he eventually got accepted to Dartmouth, where he graduated with an economics degree and eventually an MBA.

After school, Bakala joined JP Morgan in New York before moving to another firm in Wall Street. Soon after that, he was offered a job by Credit Suisse First Boston to set up their branch in Czechoslovakia.

Bakala cites this as a major turning point in his career as it allowed him the opportunity of advising the Czech Republic government on high-stake transactions. He introduced the country to investment banking in 2001 and started Patria Finance, his first entrepreneurial venture.

Selling this in 2001, he proceeded to co-found RPG Industries, acquiring clack-coal mining conglomerates, spinning off subsidiaries and streamlining operations to set records as they entered the London and Prague stock exchanges.

A self-made billionaire, Zdenek Bakala is an inspiration to anyone who has faced oppression and now spends his days overseeing the operations of his many global enterprises.

He is also committed to several philanthropic endeavours including The Bakala Foundation Scholarship Program, which supports young people who seek to complete undergraduate or graduate studies at universities abroad.

Not bad for a man who fled a communist country with nothing but a sandwich.

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