Many Croatian Companies Lag Behind for Fear of Abandoning Old Ways

Lauren Simmonds

As Poslovni Dnevnik/Darko Bicak writes on the 2nd of January, 2020, the names of companies who under the name of their brand boast city names such as London-New York-Tokyo, are generally large global companies that, due to the nature of their business, must be based in various parts of the world. Although there aren’t many Croatian companies of that size and power, every once in a while there are Croatian companies that deploy their headquarter posts and spread their wings abroad.

There are numerous companies of the kind across European and world capitals, and one is Startaparat, with Zagreb-Vienna-Dubai under its name. The Startaparat company is comprised of three women Sanja, Tanja and Helena. Behind them, as they point out, lies a strong, longstanding friendship which has grown through working together at the Bruketa&Žinić OM agency.

Tanja Škorić was a creative director in Zagreb and later a partner at Bruketa&Žinić Vienna. Helena Rosandić Šepić was the director of B&Z in Baku for a number of years, and after that she went to Vienna, too. Sanja Petek Mujačić spent thirteen years in that agency, most of which as a director and board member. Startaparat was initially founded in Vienna back in 2017 by Tanja and Helena, and Sanja joined them in early 2019 as a partner and director of the Zagreb office.

Startaparat’s main focus is to create innovative communications solutions that build digital age brands and organisations. Whether it is startups or already established Croatian companies or indeed foreign ones, they help them to adopt a culture of innovation, creativity and change, to reach their absolute full potential.

In fact, they work with Croatian companies and foreign ones that want to grow faster, developing from their original ideas to creating a winning marketing concept. Their business model itself changes the established processes of the communication industry – building a network of teams and experienced professionals/consultants with whom they collaborate on projects – from HR professionals, people operating within the complex digital world, communicators, designers, developers, business consultants, and so forth. Having a presence and experience across different markets gives them priceless insight into a variety of trends, knowledge and practices – giving their solutions some serious strength and weight.

In addition to Vienna in Austria and Zagreb in Croatia, this year, they have a ”set up” of offices in Dubai, and plans to expand to even more countries. Sanja is a kind of primus inter pares, and today she attributes her competencies to her general education and extensive experience. Sanja, who is otherwise an art historian, has spent her entire marketing career focusing on how technology is changing the world.

“It used to be more from the perspective of marketing and communications, and in the past two years it has been growing from the perspective of management and work in organisations. My favourite topic is storytelling in business, and how much power and strength of the stories in the business environment I reveal to the teams of the largest Croatian companies through interactive workshops. In addition, I’m dedicated to the hot topic – employer branding, but my vision is that that’s not only an HR topic, but that it also combines communications and marketing,” explained Sanja Petek Mujačić.

She added that for several years now, Croatian companies and foreign companies have been intensively introducing technology into all aspects of their business. “The goal is to improve processes, accelerate product development and marketing, improve customer experience – all to meet the increasingly dynamic and rapid market and customer demands.

”Old” organisations and well-known brands are constantly under the influence of fast moving startups and disruptive innovations. Technology is one solution to how to be prepared for market competition, but the focus shifts to a key company resource – people. Thus, the priority becomes the intensive adaptation of the way in which we work and collaborate, which motivates and inspires us, that is, how companies are organised and how they communicate and create,” noted the Startaparat director.

She explained that many Croatian companies are still guided by old, outdated principles of management, which, as she says, are in line with the needs of our grandparents’ time and not in line with modern business at all.

“In most cases, Croatian companies are not yet ready for radical change – creating a shallower organisation, abandoning the command and control model, less internal bureaucracy//. A system without a strong hierarchy, risk-averse. But… they’re slowly moving in that direction.

This transition is not simple and easy, but I believe that the benefits of the changes will be great and will have multiple implications for employee engagement and motivation, and definitely for the creation of innovative and relevant solutions, products and services,” said Petek Mujačić.

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