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The topic of the second meeting, with guests Mrs. Aleša Kandus Benčina, Chairman of the Board Medex d.o.o. and Mr. Tomaž Lovše, owner of Diners Club Slovenia and Italy and President of AmCham Slovenia was “Rises and falls in career”. This is a subject with which definitely encounter majority of individuals in their career. Our young participants of AmCham Young Professionals will only come across such problems in the future.

The winner is the one who is able to get up once more than fell.

In the opening address the two guests presented themselves and then followed conversation, moderated by Ajša Vodnik MSc., Executive Director AmCham Slovenia and Monika Lapajne, Head of Corporate Communications on EF. The guests spoke about the turning point in their career, an exceptional significance of values and ethical activity, encouraged the participants to be strong, daring but not intrusive. Mrs. Kandus Benčina also expressed her concern and question about the role of women on leadership positions, and why there are increasingly less.

Then the group split into two smaller groups. The first group was given the opportunity to ask questions to Mr. Tomaž Lovše and the other to Mrs. Aleša Kandus Benčina.

Questions for Mr. Tomaž Lovše:

Jurij Krajnc: Please list three things that Slovenia would have to change in order to become so called second Switzerland.

Mr. Tomaž Lovše: We need to form what I call »new alliance«. Slovenia should become »triple double« by:

– being among 10 European countries with the highest GDP

– being among 10 most competitive European countries

– being among 10 most qualitative European countries (meaning the quality of education, health-care system, etc.)

Clear goals must be determined, goals that are understandable to people. One of such goals was for instance entering into EU. Then an agreement must be reached on how to achieve this goal.

Jernej Osterman: Banks are unresponsive for loans and support to companies and projects. I think that stimulation for economy is necessary. How to set up such stimulation?

Mr. Tomaž Lovše: Several laws were passed on this area but they weren’t as successful as expected. Banks must become more active, they must engage actively in economy and problems which have appeared. Here I have in mind especially relationships with their large debtors.

Gregor Kump: What is your viewpoint about young associates? What is more important to you: education or professional experiences?

Mr. Tomaž Lovše: What I look for in my employees depends on job position and type of industry. You can’t have just leaders in the company, because frictions emerge between them soon. Then there are individuals who are brilliant and exceptional people but speak too much and promise too much and then they can’t complete the task afterwards, which is not good. One needs to find balance between his talented people and know how to use them properly.

Ana Krešič: Which are the three essential characteristics that successful manager must have?

Mr. Tomaž Lovše: Reliability, pervasiveness, innovativeness, and successfulness. It is absolutely necessary to gain experiences also with temporary work abroad and then bring them back to Slovenia.

Tanja Merlak: You talked about the situation regarding moral values. How would you improve the situation with moral values?

Mr. Tomaž Lovše: Everybody in business world comes to position where he could violate moral values. But you have to set yourself limits beyond which you don’t go. You have to be skilled (to gain experiences also abroad) and without mercy. I have laid many employees off; changes are painful but also vital and must be carried out. You need to work with trust worthy people who poses values. I personally hire people and I also personally lay them off, I look in their eyes and face them with the facts. I want to have straightforward relationship with every one of them and I had many positive experiences in the past because of my straightforward relationship with my employees.

Tina Lazovič: In Indian society already children have clearly set goals; what will their career be like? Why isn’t this similar in our country?

Mr. Tomaž Lovše: I personally believe that India has brighter future than China, namely due to Anglo-Saxon system. Indians are hard working, diligent and educated. Slovenia will have to allow inflow of fresh blood into the society, because our knowledge isn’t enough.

Questions for Mrs. Aleša Kandus Benčina:

Nikola Maslovarič: Companies are cutting down costs even more in time of a crisis; does this mean that they are purchasing less service for that reason from lawyers and tax advisers? Do you think that this will improve by the end of the year?

Aleša Kandus Benčina: A good consultant is still worth his weight in gold and can save money to company. You cut costs only when it is justified. The state operates according to the principle: «collect where you can ». I think that expenses for consultancy are not being reduced significantly; we often hire consultants to hide our decisions behind them.

Anita Celarec
: What is your opinion about the role of women on managerial positions and what is the connection with the family life?

Aleša Kandus Benčina: I have understanding parents and partner, therefore it is easier. Business area means taking risks and exposing yourself. Among new generations is »me« even more in the limelight. So private life also, not only career. Therefore we must promote new models, to adapt to new generations. »Soft reasons« are becoming increasingly important and many don’t want to work in a state owned company.

Anita Celarec: Is the future of feminine gender?

Aleša Kandus Benčina: Different energies in the company are important. It is a mistake women make, that they consider too little time for networking and this isn’t good. Men always have time for lunch, while women use their spare time for other tasks.

Nataša Bukanovsky Kosi: What is your opinion about the idea to start my own company? Can you succeed without giving bribes?

Aleša Kandus Benčina: There are boundaries in life which we must not cross. Do everything possible, but in an honest way. In an opposite case there is no way back. Work in accordance with your values. Society will have to go through cathartic purging. In our country small entrepreneurship isn’t valued; we will have to mend this. There are many things that are formally correct, but unethical. I am optimistic regarding ethic of the young people.

Bojana Novak Hladnik: State is depersonalized in thoughts of majority of people. Should people be more involved in politics and political problems in Slovenia?

Aleša Kandus Benčina: The solution is not participation in political parties but common sense, to stand behind your decision. If a team of people would assemble, people who have enough money to be financially independent and do things because of their own convictions, for the benefit of the country and society then it would make sense to think about participating in politics.

Staša Podgoršek
: What is your opinion about positive discrimination? Are women maybe on positions that they don’t deserve? Why isn’t this so distinctive in Slovenia?

Aleša Kandus Benčina: That is way I want to work in a company where I am the owner. Women are maybe rather on the second position. Not because we couldn’t be on the first, because of the barriers men are putting before us, but because of other matters that are important to us beside the jobs. About positive discrimination – Scandinavian states have quotas for women and are the most successful. Models are different and the state must choose the direction it wants to follow and work on it.

Ksenja Štrekelj: Manager must be his/her employees’ inspiration. Who was yours?

Aleša Kandus Benčina: My inspiration was my family. I believe in good, my father is an exceptional person, he is over 80 years old and he exercises still, he visits his former employment, he is active. Being a businessman is not profession but way of life. Things are spontaneous then.

Sincerity and positive energy were present, so we are looking forward to new events.