How to Become Globally Competitive from Croatia: MBA Aco Momcilovic Interview

Total Croatia News

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May 29, 2019 – Croatia may not be the easiest place in Europe to do business, but there is a budding entrepreneurial class which enjoying considerable success and getting more organised. Ahead of the first MBA Croatia business conference in Zagreb next week, TCN caught up with MBA Croatia President Aco Momcilovic.

His CV includes three years as the Chief Human Resources Officer of Rimac Automobili, and so MBA Croatia President Aco Momcilovic knows a thing or two about how to become globally competitive starting from Croatia, the subject of the first MBA Croatia business conference, which will take place on June 6 at the Forum Zagreb Congress Centre. 

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1. MBA Croatia sounds like an excellent initiative. Can you briefly introduce it? What are you trying to achieve and what have you achieved so far?

MBA Croatia is the biggest long-term business association in the country with regular monthly events and other yearly gatherings. It is a great opportunity to network and exchange knowledge. We gather all MBA alumni, MBA students, and business people interested in our activities and who share our values, mission and vision. We want our members and guests to have lifelong education as a habit, and to enable them to continuously enlarge their network of professionals. Our vision is to create and gather alumni of world level leaders, and our mission to inspire the creation of a better and more advanced society. In the 10 years of our existence, we have organized more than 100 lectures and other events and had a few thousand people participating in them. 

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2. Your upcoming conference is called How to Become Globally Competitive from Croatia. You have personal experience of this, having worked at Rimac Automobili. Tell us about that experience, and what lessons can be learned for other Croatian businesses?  

As we can see in many Croatian companies, there are lots of great people, great ideas, and a lot of potential to compete on the world level and be the best in some segments. One very important thing is the mindset of the owners and entrepreneurs. Their ambition and confidence to deliver in the most challenging environment. In that area for the country, it will not be enough to have only Rimac Automobili and a few other companies. We should create a system that will continuously produce a higher number of companies of that quality. A good example of that success is Israel which branded itself as a startup nation. We can and must learn from the successes of Israel, Estonia, and other similar countries. 

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3. A lot of Croatia’s talented youth is emigrating in search of better economic opportunity. You personally are still here. Has emigration occurred to you personally, and why have you decided to stay?

Because I am still very connected to the country, and all the fantastic people still living in it. It is true, and it saddens me to see that many of my friends left, but we in MBA Croatia and some connected projects (like Meeting G2) are trying to reverse the trends, and maybe in the mid-term attract those people to return back. 

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4. Give us an overview of the business climate in Croatia, and the opportunities for entrepreneurs. Do you see signs of improvement?

Many pages of text are written on that topic by economists who are specialized in that area. More or less we all agree that the situation is far from perfect and that it should be improved on many levels. Although it is our goal to influence those decisions, this conference is also aimed at individuals and owners and CEOs of companies who need encouragement, and experience of those who already walked the path of internalization of their business.  Currently, some improvements are happening, but much slower than they should. This is also the time to raise that question to the public. 

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5. Three things you would change about doing business in Croatia if you were in a position to do so?

Create the system that is transparent, and as a result, minimize corruption. Secure easier foreign investments, and of course less administrative and other obstacles for doing business for everybody. 

6. The conference has a rich field of international speakers. Tell us a little about them.  

Andreas W. Gerdes is a very successful entrepreneur and I would say visionary of the future, from Malta. Always with new ideas, and new energy to boost changes and improvement.

Tadej Slapnik, former State Secretary of Slovenia, also in the management of Tolar, an international project in the blockchain, who can share many interesting experiences from his career.

Nikolajs Bulmanis, Board Member of Air Baltic, a top-level executive from one great company that has been through the change management process.

We also expect representatives from Macedonia and Israel to learn even more international best practices.

The moderator will be Stephanie Trpkov, employed in the World Bank and with experience directly in the field of competitiveness. 


7. What do you hope the conference will achieve, and what are the next steps for MBA Croatia?  

We hope to gather and share a lot of knowledge and experience with our members, and all other business people interested in that topic. One goal is to inspire some of them to start planning international expansion and help them in doing so.

Another goal is to prepare all of us, in the many areas that we will need to work in Croatia, in order to become a more business-friendly country.

Also, the conference is combined with our internal workshop – MBAonica, for members of the association only. That topic will be even more practical – How to open a company in other countries? We will have two lecturers and they will give some practical examples how to do it in Dubai, Switzerland and the UK.

Admission is free for members of the MBA Croatia Association, while the Early bird donation for non-members is 200kn and it can be purchased through this link.

You can learn more about MBA Croatia via the official website. You can connect with Aco Momcilovic via LinkedIn.

Looking to learn more about the entrepreneurs of Croatia? Check out the dedicated TCN Made in Croatia section.


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