THE REGION NEEDS EVEN CLOSER AND STRONGER COOPERATION – KEY MESSAGE OF THE SEVENTH SUMMIT100 BUSINESS LEADERS
“The seventh Summit100 Business Leaders has reached a conclusion that the region needs even closer and stronger cooperation. In the course of two days, we have heard from the speakers a lot about facilitation of trade between the countries, talked about brain drain in the countries of the region and what we can do to prevent youth from leaving for work and how to attract those who have already left to come back. Other topics have included digital platform-based areas in trade, agriculture, infrastructure, joint projects aimed at improving regional competitiveness. The seventh Summit100 has shown that there is still strong inclination towards business cooperation within the region, and that message has been clearly sent to the attending politicians, so we hope that at the eighth Summit in 2019 we will present what we have done meanwhile,” says Jelena Bulatović, SAM Executive Director.
The second day at the Summit100 Business Leaders started with a panel on labour in the region and how to turn the brain drain into brain gain.
VIP mobile CEO Dejan Turk said that youth worked for the environment rather than for salary, adding that it was important for a company to be recognised as a “cool employer”.
“We in VIP and A1, the two companies that I lead, have tried everything to be cool. It begins with me as the CEO, meaning that I am to be accessible, innovative, in contact with people and users. We also have numerous programs that rate us as “cool”. The entire state should “be cool” like that in order to attract talents, not only from Serbia but from other countries as well. It is important to offer an opportunity for working from home, a coffee shop or any other place, where staff can be productive, namely what they think is cool. Our key competitive advantage is people, as from the technological aspect we are at a similar level. Therefore I try to be a cool CEO and in both countries, Serbia and Slovenia, they rewarded me with the title of the best manager,” said Turk.
Saga CEO Nebojša Bjelotomić noted that everyone had to fight brain drain in creative ways, although everyone was saying how difficult it was to retain youth.
“Today ten of my people can compete with people from the Silicone Valley or Cambridge, and therefore I should listen to them. Companies increasingly need young experts in the area of digital marketing.”
GEA College President Katja Kraškovic says that everyone in the region is quite old-fashioned and that formal education is time-consuming. “It takes years to accomplish something, and we produce something that we will no longer need in the future, so people have to train themselves for specific competencies demanded in the labour market. We constantly have a feeling that we are 15 or 20 years late in everything we do,” said Kraškovic. She added that every company needed young people with a different frame of mind, while it all came down to how to motivate university students, namely workers, and that it required huge flexibility.
“How Can We Be Stronger as a Region?” Panel
Our region is too small for the countries to compete with each other, concluded the business people participating at the Summit100 Business Leaders of Southeast Europe, and invited the governments to cooperate more and eliminate barriers.
“The competition motivates us to continue investing in the aim of becoming more efficient and achieving long-term, sustainable growth. Business needs market and competition, infrastructure, regulation harmonisation, more efficient administration, sense of security and adequate judicial system. MK Group exports 50 percent of its output and is already competing in the EU market,” said Dušan Radičević, CGO of MK Group, the regional leader in agriculture, banking and tourism. Speaking about regional cooperation, Radičević noted that the countries of the region were not competitors and that together they could do much more as individual markets were small. It is clear that there are borders, but business needs them to be “invisible”. “MK Group is a regional investor interested in all markets equally. Investing in the region is our strategic orientation because only by creating strong “regional” players can we be competitive in the European market,” said Radičević.
Medical Group CEO Miljenko Bura said that the countries in the region together could be much stronger in tourism and suggested a joint platform for developing medical tourism. He also announced that an international investment forum would be held in Zagreb next week, where a joint platform for medical tourism would be presented.
NLB Bank Beograd Executive Board President Branko Greganović said that both businesspeople and state officials should have a long-term perspective and devise a plan for joint development.
“How to Make Digital Technologies Work for the Region?” Panel
Digitalisation will change all segments of life and work will increasingly be separated from a workplace, as confirmed by a growing number of the so-called digital nomads, who work and travel across the world, as said at the Summit100 Business Leaders today. Speakers at the “How to Make Digital Technologies Work for the Region?” panel noted that the digitalisation process represented a huge opportunity for development of all countries in the region.
Branimir Brkljač, the founder of Terra panonica, which manages the Mokrinhouse project, said that digitalisation could help this region a lot, since we “live at the time when digitalisation has enabled a revolutionary leap”. Brkljač noted that now we could think about how to become one of the globally relevant destinations, where segments of that new industry would be located, adding that the IT sector in Serbia was already developed sufficiently and that we had IT hubs in Belgrade and Novi Sad.