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Vivo Catering is one of the highest-profile catering companies in south-eastern Europe. What led to your decision to start an events catering company, and how would you describe your journey in business?

My journey has been tied to hospitality and catering since childhood, as I grew up in a family of this very kind. While a student I began working in the industry, in wedding planning at Ljubljana Castle. This drew me in, and my life thus became tied to enterprise and hospitality, as I continued my studies with a master’s in tourism. When Slovenia gained independence, there was suddenly a need for support at a lot of protocol events. I identified this market niche, and set aside my studies for a certain time to start a company to cater events of this type. At that time the word “catering” was unknown in Slovenia, but I included it in the company name to raise the international profile. I devoted myself to enterprise at a time when we did not even know the meaning of the word, and we therefore had to learn as we went. I started the company with a clear business purpose, and built the Vivo team with enthusiasm and passion. Now I am passing on that knowledge to younger generations. I give lectures on business, organization, protocol and the hospital industry.

Vivo catering is a major player in tourism in Slovenia, in events catering at the international level, and in the conference industry, and is also a significant part of Slovenia’s image as a culinary destination. How do you maintain the level that you have built over the years? Is it hard?

Vivo catering is now a trendsetter in events catering in south-eastern Europe, which means that it is really setting the benchmarks in this field. Our scope reaches from Rome, through Zagreb, all the way to Brussels. This is thanks to all the people at Vivo who followed me. The recipe is always the same. In all social systems and all eras, good results require hard work, with heart, mind and soul. Tourism (and the conference industry) is a fast-growing, highly demanding sector, where not only are international standards necessary, but also international references. At Vivo we have long-standing partnerships with conference centres (the Cankar Centre and the Exhibition and Convention Centre), and have studied and developed exactly what events of this type need, where account has to be taken of the specifics of the guests, such as their country of origin, and the dietary habits of particular groups. 

In your rich career you have served a huge number of guests. Who do you remember best, and what is the most interesting request you have had?

I have crossed paths with quite a few celebrities, which I am very proud of and which is a great motivating factor in our work. Above all, highly charismatic and successful people, such as Queen Elizabeth II, Bill Clinton, Kevin Costner, Monica Bellucci, David Guetta and, in the last year, Enrique Iglesias, the Scorpions and Andrea Bocelli, to name but a few of our many local and foreign guests, are our torch-bearers, who give us validation and appreciation, and are an inspiration for new opportunities, new skills and new knowledge.

How important do you think it is to work with other entrepreneurs in your business? 

Networking is the most important thing for developing a destination and for setting standards and pricing policy in the market. Here women have a broader outlook than male managers, and networking is my strategy and policy for the coming years. 

What are you most proud of in your career?

 At Vivo catering we are proud of every event, but after almost ten years we are still famous the world over for our banquet for Queen Elizabeth II: we are very proud that she chose us to cater to her guests during her visit to Slovenia in 2008. Her visit made a great impression on us, but also confirmed that we are on the right path, and was a reflection of the quality of service that we provide. Personally I am most proud of Vivo’s team of passionate, professional and conscientious staff, who came up with the slogan of “not just a job, more a way of life” themselves.

This year you will celebrate 25 years of existence. What do you have planned to mark this milestone?

They say that at Vivo we have ideas for ten more lives, that the international marketplace is our theatre, but we really love coming home to VIVO D125, our innovative solutions centre at Dunajska 125 in Ljubljana, where the Vivo spirit truly lives. Those who know say that VIVO D125 is a city that never sleeps, innovative, different, but always passionate. Whoever comes to us has no more need of New York. They say that I am a visionary, which is a great honour. As I have said before, our motto is “we cook from the heart, and serve from the soul”. I was very young when I first read Deepak Chopra, from whom I borrowed the idea that has been on my desk since the very first day: “You create your own goal, that is what you give. Success is what you sow, and in this way you reach the goal: what you give, you get.” This could be a motto for everything that we do, and, might I say, for all generations.  Above all it is vital to take care of the environment in which you do your development, as the people around you are a reflection of you.