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A large number of the leading Slovenian economists met at the AmCham Business Breakfast, organized by the American Chamber of Commerce – AmCham Slovenia, which was held on Friday, 25 January 2013, from 8 a.m. to 9.30 a.m., at the Hotel Lev in Ljubljana.

All the present guests interactively participated in the topical subject of the Business Breakfast and together with the guest speakers – successful leaders of good domestic and foreign entities found quite a number of convincing solutions to the issue of How to turn Slovenia into a success story again and where to start at all.

Valuable experiences and knowledge of leaders from Slovenia and abroad in times when it seems that successful and trustworthy leaders are rare to be found were shared with us by guests of the Round Table – distinguished Slovenian and foreign business leaders of the leading regional companies and development centers in Slovenia: Maria Anselmi, General Manager, Bisnode, Roman Koritnik, General Manager, IBM Slovenija, Gregor Pilgram, President of Management Board, Generali zavarovalnica, mag. Vojmir Urlep, President of the Board of Management, Lek, Thierry Villard, Managing Director, Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires and Branko Žibret, Lead Partner in A.T. Kearney’s Public Sector practice in EMEA.

Special guest of the American Chamber of Commerce was Miguel Angel Violan, one of the leading Spanish corporate communicators and the author of the book The Guardiola Method, in which he describes how and why has coach Guardiola managed to transform the Football Club Barcelona into the best team in the world in merely three years. He brought together talent with compromises, values and team work. Violan showed the ways of how it is possible to pass such methods of work also on companies and institutions.

The discussion was led by Petra Kocjan, Director, Zavod Ypsilon and Tomaž Lanišek, Cluster Director, Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires and the AmCham Top Potential 2011.

Miguel Angel Violan: » Add a key ingredient of success and growth to selected values – it is common sense! «

Miguel Angel Violan has by summarizing and exposing the main and most important cues in his book The Guardiola Method pointed out that leading by example is the best and unique solution to all our problems on a local or global context. He compared the contemporary leader to a samurai, as the one who is not a warrior but whose mission is to serve with dedication and passion. Convinced that the global situation is showing us a clear image that for own survival (of a company, society, individual) one needs values, he pointed out: » Select the values, you wish to have in your company – and follow them. Add a key ingredient of success and growth to selected values – it is common sense! «

He is convinced that leadership cannot exist without credibility as also the credibility can not exist without good communication.

Furthermore, he believes that it is essential for any organization to have a good combination of excellent talents and emotional management. His messages were simple, but powerful.

»If you learn from your mistakes you will be a better person. People would really like to have leaders they can trust. Be one of them. Trust is the key word and the source of wealth and prosperity. «

Roman Koritnik: »We need a transformed Slovenia! «

Roman Koritnik, General Manager, IBM Slovenija, began his speech by pointing out that it is perfectly clear to us all that we are faced with a situation that is certainly not easy. He stressed the need for a transformed Slovenia in order to re-establish its good reputation – also on a global scale. He explained that for the existence of IBM for more than 100 years on the market, precisely the ability of transformation was crucial. » We wish that Slovenia would have a global role and recognizability despite its physical boundaries and limits, « said Koritnik. He sees Slovenia in the future as a country with great infrastructure and powerful knowledge and the Slovenian economic leaders as bringers of results that will lead Slovenia into a success story. »All the leaders have one thing in common – we all wish to be successful! «

To the question raised by the moderators about his way of motivating his employees, he pointed out: » First of all I have to be very highly motivated – especially by success stories my employees share with me, only then I can continue to motivate my employees.« He also spoke of the mission of their company IBM: «It is clear to each of our employees that we serve the client and that we are part of the success of our clients. Everyone bears and assumes personal responsibility. « He is convinced that a leader always has to be a role model, always the fastest and should never wait for someone else to do what he himself has to do.

»Growth and comfort do not co-exist, « Koritnik concluded his speech.

Branko Žibret: » Every smart government engages top businessmen for its advisers. «

Branko Žibret, Lead Partner in A.T. Kearney’s Public Sector practice in EMEA showed the differences between the attitudes of the business world, which is always oriented to results and the orientation of the policy, which is led by different mechanisms. » Also the politicians are aware now that they should proceed to the next level and that all the efforts should be aimed to the challenge of how to transform the mechanisms and processes of the policy in order to achieve that all the politicians will work for the good of the nation. Every smart government engages on a national or global level the top businessmen for its advisers in order they help at deciding and provide existing information about the economy of a certain state, « Žibret pointed out.

Slovenia is not very attractive for direct investments for its small market, which is always the main motivator of foreign direct investments and should therefore find ways to attract FDI differently, with a comprehensive strategy and a clear concept. » We need to accept competition at all levels and need to have courage for it, » believes Žibret.

Mag. Vojmir Urlep: »If I had to decide for one change only, I would choose the most difficult one – to change our mind-set. «

Mag. Vojmir Urlep, President of the Board of Management, Lek, was clear that we all need to realize that changing only one thing will not solve the situation in our common journey, however if he had to decide for one change only, he would choose the most difficult one – to change our mind-set: « I would change our mind-set and transform all the negativity into a positive approach. «

Urlep also spoke about the enormous success of the company LEK as the most important and largest research center in the Sandoz Group and alleged the reasons for their success: » We have simply achieved this level with the results in the production and quality. A lot has been invested into the knowledge which has brought us to the position where we are today. «

Gregor Pilgram: »We must have courage and accept the changes as an integral part of our business, work, life in the company and in the state as well. »

Gregor Pilgram, President of Management Board, Generali zavarovalnica, believes that unfortunately in our society the mind-set that changes are bad, prevails. He is however convinced that the situation is just the opposite – that the changes are good and necessary.

» We must have courage and accept the changes as an integral part of our business, work, life in the company and in the state as well, » was determined Pilgram.

Pilgram also pointed out that in business one has to find also the fun side, especially when the team is very young and consequently very active as is the case in their company. The key to their success is in the passion and lots of energy invested into good projects and in building the recognizability which is not very expensive, but definitely is very effective.

Maria Anselmi: »We succeeded because we fulfilled all the promises made – without an exception! «

Maria Anselmi, General Manager, Bisnode, gave two important elements as the key of success of her company. As the most important external element according to her opinion she stated the confidence they have been building for years as they have fulfilled all the promises made, without an exception. Whereas as the internal element of success, Maria Anselmi described her role as a business leader: »My role and mission each and every day is to encourage and motivate my employees, my team to move forward and exceed even their own expectations. I do it by giving them sense of security, confidence and stability. « She also pointed out that it is of utmost importance in their mission that in communication with others they always have to know what they want to express. As one of the main attributes for success she pointed out the passion for business and believes that it does not matter how big or small we are – as we can always be »on the top«. She is convinced that as Slovenia is concerned, there is an important factor of innovation, because as regards the size of the country, we can be extremely flexible, can experiment and transform our ideas immediately into tangible results – as a comparison she quoted Germany, where all of the stated is much more difficult. » Do not be afraid of making mistakes. Action, experiment, mistake – correction of the mistake – action again, work! « is her key to success.

Thierry Villard: » Diversity is foundation for success! «

Thierry Villard, Managing Director, Goodyear Dunlop Sava Tires, believes that diversity is foundation for success of an individual, relations and society. » We need to find a way to introduce diversity into all aspects of life and work – also in a company. I try to make Slovenian businessmen, politicians and especially young people in Slovenia understand that they should not be afraid of challenges and changes, « was encouraging Villard. He also estimates that there is a lack of work mobility in Slovenia – however not in terms of »brain drain«, but in sense of acquiring valuable experiences abroad and implementing them in the Slovenian business and wider area.