20 March 2018, Best Western Premier Hotel Slon, Ljubljana
Learning about the GDPR and it’s effect on businesses at the GDPR conference, organised by SDBP – Slovene Dutch Business Platform and Drolec Sladojević Law Firm.
It is with deep, deep sadness that we inform you about the passing of our dear friend and former SDBP member Hans Heijkoop. He passed away the 19th of January 2018 in Dubai. We remember Hans as a friendly, real cosmopolitan and open minded person who always wore a smile. Our thoughts are with his wife Klaudia and his two young sons, Ruben and Jon. We wish them all strength possible.
Marie-Louise Bemelmans-Videc’s journey back to her Slovenian roots
This Monday our honored guests from the Netherlands, Marie-Louise Bemelmans-Videc, took the audience on a journey back to her Slovenian roots. She outlined the expected and many unexpected challenges her family has faced as a result of this quest for a new life. Being a successful politician, academic professor and writer, she clearly showed how a underprivileged family situation can change from one generation to the next.
As the audience began to ask engaging questions, an open discussion began to gradually unfold that touched upon highly relevant and current issues such as the ongoing migration crisis and differences in culture. Luckily Mrs. Bemelmans-Videc has also kept a strong connection with Slovenia and her family members living here, we too hope too see her again in the future. We would like to express our special thanks to Mrs. Bemelmans-Videc for her wise words and to ambassador Bart Twaalfhoven and the Embassy of the Netherlands in Slovenia for supporting the event.
To catch up on Mrs. Bemelmans-Videc and her book please refer to the following link: https://goo.gl/AyAeVK
Last Monday SDBP – Slovene Dutch Business Platform members received a very interesting guided tour around the Union Experience museum and Union‘s production facilities. While going through the museum, we learned many new things such as beer culture and history in this region but also about Union’s corporate structure. We observed numerous antique artifacts used in the beer making process a long time ago.
The tour around the production plant was very informative as well. We were able see 1000s of bottles being filled in front of ours eyes in a matter of seconds, this was very impressive considering the high quality standards maintains while still pushing for a sustainable and ecological production.
We would like to express our special thanks to Martin P Hayes for making it all possible!
On May 11th and 12th, our partners Circular Change hosted the fully packed Circular Change Conference of 2017. With over 500 participants at Ljubljana Castle Ljubljana, who will initiate a unique two-day journey through learning experiences and insights into the transformational challenges across different industries, arising from the transition to the circular economy. The second conference day is taking place in Maribor (Hotel Habakuk).
“Slovenia with the advantage of size (2 million population and the territory of 20.273 km²), though a significant economic complexity and privileged social cohesion, can offer itself as a pilot country for the deepest absorption of circular transition and become both a field of business opportunities and lessons to be learned and shared,” explains Godina Košir.
The conference participants, guided by over 30 speakers, internationally renowned leaders and co-creators of the circular transition will explore the systemic approach by tapping into circular economy platforms at local, urban, regional and international levels. They will learn about collaboration as a precondition for success in the context of circular business models and will dedicate to the evolution of circular cities.
The conference will begin with the panel consisted of some of the most outstanding protagonists who will bring up case studies from the successful circular business transformation.
The introductory keynote speaker is Christiaan Kraaijenhagen, a Dutch circular economy expert and the author of a book “Circular Business”, which offers a practical 10-step approach for professionals in small, medium-sized and large organisations on how to initiate, lead and execute a circular transformation from pilot to circular businesses.
Kraaijenhagen is the founder and innovation strategist at Innoboost. He believes that the best way to innovate is to improve your customer’s experience. “Our drive is to leave people and planet better than we found them.”
“We will engage into the new narrative through case studies as the most appropriate learning and knowledge-transfer method, together with accomplished circular pioneers. Last but not least, we will discuss the effects and opportunities deriving from the ongoing disruption of conventional business schemes, seeing new roles for public-private partnerships, procurement, taxation and financial institutions,” concludes Godina Košir.
2nd Circular Change Conference by the numbers
The co-organiser of the second day, “Partnership for a green economy“, which is coordinated by State Secretary Tadej Slapnik at the Office of the Prime Minister of Slovenia, connects several ministries of the Slovenian Government with external stakeholders. Among others, there are also: Embassies of Italy and the Netherlands to Slovenia, ITA-Ice office in Ljubljana, AmCham Slovenia, The World Economic Forum, EBRD, Philips, Intesa Sanpaolo Bank, The Boston Consulting Group, The Circular Valley, Sava Insurance, Pošta Slovenije and many others, who will engage in a 2-day dialogue, which will evolve across two Slovenian circular cities, Ljubljana and Maribor, with both municipalities actively participating in the event’s programme.Over 30 circular economy thought leaders on the stage will guide more than 500 participants from 10 countries through the two-day programme, which is a result of partnerships with over 50 international circular change makers.
We would like to thank all of those participating at our Twelfth Annual General Assembly. Following the stepping down of our former president Jernej Šmalc and following the procedures of the General Assembly, we would like to welcome our newly elected president Christiaan Kits Nieuwenkamp! Being a long-time SDBP alumnus with deep international experience, Christiaan will continue to lead the new SDBP to a great success. Please view Christiaan’s personal message for our members at the president’s page at this link.
In addition to Christiaan Kits Nieuwenkamp and the existing Executive Committee members, Ladeja Godina Košir, Uroš Zajec and Tim F. Zupančič we are excited to announce that we expanded our team with two hugely enthusiastic Dutch ladies. Simone B. Michielen has a long history at SDBP who defines the very term Slovene-Dutch. Her being a lot in the Netherlands will allow us to deepen our connection with the Netherlands. Lastly, she will also help us strengthen our bilateral focus as she was and still is involved in many cross projects between the Netherlands and Slovenia. Mireille van Bremen is our our second addition to our team, she is a coach, social artist and graphic recorded living in Slovenia. Among other things, she will help us giving a professional shape to the results of our exclusive events.
With our team now being complete, we will make sure to create and deliver the best selected content that is most relevant to you, our members!
Doing Business in Slovenia – Dutch Perspectives on Entrepreneurship and Business Culture
Round table discussion moderated by Ladeja Košir Godina
Martin P. Hayes, Finance Director at Heineken Group’s Brewery Laško Union
Jacob Westerlaken, Managing Director at International Insurance Consortium (IIC)
Ulla Hudina Kmetič, Economic Analyst at European Commission Representation in Slovenia
Andrej Lasič, Director of business operations with key clients at NLB
On Wednesday, February 15th 2017, we organized a fantastic event with with deep support of Embassy of the Netherlands in Slovenia. The main feature of the event was an eye-opening discussion moderated by Ladeja Košir Godina with speakers: Martin Hayes of Heineken group’s Laško Union brewery; Jacob Westerlaken, of International Insurance Consortium; Ulla Hudina Kmetič of The European Commission in Slovenia and Andrej Lasič of NLB. All speakers were able to share their experiences of operating in different business cultures. After engaging the audience, a special emphasis was made on how business culture has been developed rather different in Slovenia and the Netherlands. Our esteemed guest Dr. Peter Kraljič helped the audience to understand what the historic sources for these different business cultures are, he exaplained how these aspects have gradually but deeply affected society as a whole.
The evening began with an opening speech from Martin Hayes in which he mentioned his vast experience of working for Heineken in the Netherlands. Despite the small geographical distance, the move to the Netherlands was almost a culture shock. This was mainly because contrary to the British, the Dutch are extremely direct when engaging in conversation. In his opinion in that aspect Slovenians are similar to the British where there is polite rerouting of the words chosen in conversations. Martin pointed out that he quickly adopted the Slovenian habit of dressing in full suits with ties for business meetings when he visited Slovenia for the first time. He then instantly regretted it as it was almost 40 degrees during the record breaking hot month of July 2015. As well as the formal dressing habit, he was also surprised by the strong perception of hierarchy. This is something that is almost nonexistent in the Netherlands, where the lowest level worker can have a conversation with CEO.
Soon after the other speakers joined Martin on the stage. Being a Dutch entrepreneur with vast international experience, Jacob Westerlaken quickly confirmed all Martin’s perception of the Slovenia business culture. However, Jacbob pointed out that compared to the Netherlands “where nobody listens to manager at all” or Russia “where everybody listens to managers but nobody thinks for himself”, Slovenia could be the right balance of achieving company goals while still having an open mind. Jacob also shared his disbelief when he saw how much stress is put on the yearly review of who earned the most in the year. Together with the Martin they came to the same observation that there is some sense of envy to success in Slovenia, this was later confirmed by the other two speaker as well.
As an economic analyst at the European Commission, Ulla Hudina Kmetič mentions that the Slovenians are both conservative and risk-takers depending on which segment we take into account. She mentions that on the demand side, especially the startups and SMEs are definitely risk-takers. She refers to the many new Slovenian startups that became very successful over the last years. According to her research however, the supply side of finance, especially equity market is more underdeveloped compared to the Netherlands. She mentions the Netherlands as an example to strive for where capital market is much more evolved. Ulla Hudina also presented the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI) and gave examples of equity funds in the Netherlands that have benefited from the EFSI support. Such opportunities could be explored also in Slovenia.
Andrej Lasič has not been operating in the Netherlands himself, however he confirmed that the Dutch business culture and approach to business is very direct. Andrej was involved in the acquisition of Laško Union Brewery by the Heineken group. According to him the process was done in a very professional and efficient manner. Comparing the countries with regards to banking sector, he mentions that Slovenians are conservative with favoring bank deposit savings by 90% over other savings or investments. The Dutch are relatively more in favor making small investments as a proportion of their savings rather depositing It all at the bank.
On Thursday November 17th, the SDBP – Slovene Dutch Business Platform – introduced a new type of event, a so-called duel. During this duel two speakers, Sonja Šmuc (Managing Director at Slovenian Managers Association) and Lousewies van der Laan (Board member at ICANN and former political leader in Dutch and European parliament) discussed a number of currently highly relevant topics. These included: inequality, nationalism, woman’s place in society, polarization of society, entitlements of the Slovenian youth and resulting passiveness. During these discussions, the ladies “dueled” by creating their own questions and remarks for the other, rather than a fully moderated discussion. After the duel people had the chance to get to know each other through an extensive networking session.
Before the actual duel took place, ambassador of the Netherlands to Slovenia H.E. Bart Twaalfhoven, expressed his full support for the new SDBP cause and its programme for 2017 which was also presented on the occasion. After that State Secretary Franc Matjaž Zupančič briefly commented on the transition from the old SDBP to the new bilateral-focused SDBP.
Lousewies opened the duel by saying she observed Slovenians feeling distant from their politicians. She went on to saying that the people see the political climate almost as a “contagious disease” from which it is best to stay far away of. Sonja confirmed this perception and suggested the sudden transitioning from a closed political system to a democracy might have caused this. She continued that politicians that took advantage of the opening of political and economic systems, together with media influence made politician a “dirty job”.
The second main topic was regarding passiveness of Slovenian youth and society in general. Lousewies thinks that the youth is so passive because life is much too “easy going” for them, due to the huge entitlements of students in Slovenia. She often compared Dutch youth’s protests and involvement in political issue. Sonja also thinks that students are spoiled too much, which prevents them from being critical of national issues. However, she also believes that after having joined EU and NATO, Slovenia lacks a national dream which also causes passiveness. She thinks that Slovenia has the potential to become Switzerland of Eastern Europe not just of the Balkan.
The last major topic of the duel included nationalism, political correctness and causing secret opinions of citizens. Lousewies mentioned the Dutch anti-islam Freedom party and its leader Geert Wilders. She believes we need to discuss “painful” issues openly instead. People with different views should not be ignored as it will result in more nationalism and single-issue parties. Both ladies brought the issue to a larger scale, namely the unexpected victory of Donald Trump in the US elections. Polls were so incorrect because people had to hide their opinions, which resulted in the unexpected outcome.
The duel gradually transitioned into an open discussion with questions and opinions from the audience’s side. The audience pointed out that Democtratic party did not select the most likeable candidate, which proofs again voters were not listened to. In reaction to previous topics it was said that Slovenia suffers from a great clash of identities which divides the population. Thijs Zoontjes, president of AIESEC Slovenia, confirmed from his own experience that the Slovenian youth is hard to motivate. He pointed out that there is not one Slovenian member of the AIESEC Slovenia’s leadership. After these discussions guests engaged in an interactive networking session.
Setting: Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana, April 30th 2015
We would like to thank Dr. Mohanakrishnan Raman for his most interesting lecture: “Transiting from Small to a Big Organisation”.
Dr. Raman explained the audience how the interactions of certain fundamental factors create an organization entity. In order to function effectively, these factors need to be interacting in a balanced manner under the direction of a clear mission goal. Using real-life examples from his own experience he showed us how things such as leadership, discipline, environment and culture are vital aspects to consider when going through a change or expanding phase.
It is almost impossible for an transformation to be successfully completed without considering all these internal and external factors. Dr. Raman told us that organizations often tend to approach problems instinctively, this was later confirmed by showing the audience an interesting exercise. Finally, he assured us that in a ever-changing global environment, change is not something to be afraid of. It is actually a natural phenomenon which should be seen as an essential process of doing business.
Acer, the European Agency for the Cooperation of Energy Regulators, aims to create a Europe-wide wholesale market for electricity and gas. The agency does so from its headquarters in Ljubljana. Dennis Hesseling, the head of the gas division of Acer, visited the Slovenian Dutch Business Platform (SDBP) on Tuesday 24 November to tell about the work of the agency.
Hesseling, a Dutchman, has been at the helm of Acer’s gas division since the end of 2012. The agency is seated in Ljubljana since 2011 after the Slovenian capital had been chosen over Slovakia and Hungary.
Although not very know, and even that is an understatement, Acer’s work does have benefits for EU citizens Hesseling showed. For example in the east of Europe prices for gas are higher than in the west. When Acer succeeds in creating an EU wholesale market for gas, prices will get lower throughout the EU and be on the same, lower, level.
Acer plays an important role in initiating and implementing cross border projects. Hesseling showed the example of a new pipeline from Poland to Lithuania which was beneficial to Lithuania. Normally Poland wouldn’t have built the pipeline but now it was an Acer project. In total 530 kilometres of pipe was laid down with a cost of 530 euro. The benefit of the pipeline amounts to 830 million euro, besides Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia benefit from it.
After Hesseling’s presentation there were lively conversations about working at Acer, the Slovenian energy market and many more subjects.