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February 2017

Macedonia2025 announces its new Corporate Partner Arcelor Mittal

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ArcelorMittal Skopje is part of the World Number 1 in Mining and Steel and one of the largest steel product manufacturers in the Balkans offering Cold Rolled Coils & Sheets, Galvanized and Pre-painted Coils, mainly for the Construction sector and the General Industry segment on the regional market. The company’s operating philosophy is to offer their customers adequate, modern and sustainable steel solutions and to respect maximum standards in safety.

A responsible approach to business guides all of the company’s operations, from extracting iron ore, producing steel to shipping the finished product.

It is with great pride for us here at ArcelorMittal Skopje to intensify our collaboration with an organization such as Macedonia 2025 which goes to great lengths to support the economic and social growth of the country. We strongly believe that business has to play a key role in the development of the community, hence we encourage and praise the numerous Macedonia 2025 initiatives for educational improvement, development programs and many more. Therefore, we believe that by having this joint platform and exchanging positive practices, companies in Macedonia can strive towards long-term success.” – Plant Director of ArcelorMittal Skopje, Mr. Wolfgang Maringer

Creating diaspora bonds – The example of Birthright Israel at the Mk2025 Summit

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At the Macedonia2025 Summit in 2016 we had the pleasure of hosting a Q&A discussion between our Chairman Mr. Robert Arsov, Mr. Gidi Mark – CEO of Birthright Israel and Mr. Dan Oryan – Israel’s Ambassador to Macedonia. The discussion revolved around the topic of how the Jewish diaspora gives back to the country which it sees and feels as the natural and traditional homeland. The focus of the discussion was the Birthright Israel program whose purpose is to enable people of Jewish origin to connect with the country.

 

The CEO of Birthright, Gidi Mark, has been with the organization since the very start in 1999 and has overseen its amazing stride to success. Birthright, or Taglit in Hebrew, is a ten-day organized trip that participants can take in specific niche areas such as cultural visits, adventure, science, arts and entertainment, culinary, biking and so on. Up to date more than 500,000 young people from 64 countries have participated in the program. Mr. Mark explains that many have established business ties or other cooperation with people and companies in Israel.

A past participant on the program called Gidi Mark to tell him that he is investing in Israel thanks to Birthright and that he wants to donate money to the organization. “This is just one of thousands of people who have made a connection to the country and the culture.” Many people have felt their lives change upon visiting the country. “The real secret,” says Gidi Mark, “is to make people realize how close they are [to one another] despite the fact that they live thousands of miles apart.”

People who connect through the program realize that there is a win-win outcome embedded in the relationship between the residents of Israel and Israelis and Jews around the world. But before Birthright became successful and before Israel became a modern and developed country, its beginnings were humble and life wasn’t easy for those living there. Mr. Mark says that in the beginning many Jews around the world had a difficult time moving to Israel, having realized the many challenges to individual prosperity. “It took Israel 50, 60 years until residents and diaspora began working together.”

This fact alone should give hope to Macedonians around the world that by cooperating with people in Macedonia, this country can become better, stronger and more famous.  Mr. Mark states that because many Jews around the world could simply not move to Israel, they decided to support the country by donating money regularly. This helped people, companies and institutions to develop better capacities which enabled them to turn the country into a global leader in innovation and technology.

Just like Macedonia, Israel does not find itself in a pleasant neighborhood and that has placed serious challenges on the prosperity of the country. But despite the circumstances, the Jewish diaspora has always been proactive in supporting people living in Israel. When the Jewish identity outside Israel began to waver under various influences, it was Israel that became the rallying point which helped individuals and communities regain their commitment to their culture and heritage.

According to both Mark and ambassador Oryan, from the 1990’s until 2000, many Jews adopted the words Jewish Existence or Jewish Continuity as codewords to describe the situation. “Everyone went around [looking] for a secret recipe for how to save the Jewish people.” One of those people presented the idea to give a free trip to Israel for young Jews. The idea was funded by two Jewish philanthropists in North America [Charles Bronfman and Michael Steiner] and supported by the then Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. Taglit started with a long-term strategic planning done with MkKinsey. The first year there were 10,000 participants from 10 countries. In 2016 40,000 young people came to Israel.

Even though the Macedonian diaspora is not as numerous as the Jewish, there are champions who are eager to play a role in sustaining Macedonia and lifting up the Macedonian people. In the discussion Mr. Oryan stated that Macedonia2025 is a blessing to the government of Macedonia because it brings new people, new ideas and new energy, new perspectives. This is something that Macedonians anywhere in the world should lean on when thinking about the future of the country.

When Birthright started many people thought that the Jewish people in Israel are doomed, but the program articulated to its participants and to the Jewish communities around the world the vision of continuing the existence. “That vision stays the same,” says Gidi Mark, “but with one crucial difference: now, Birthright is about continuing the prosperous existence of the Jewish people.”

What kind of state does Macedonia want to be? Mr. Oryan asks, and goes to add: “If you become something that people want to visit, this is exactly what you need to do. You need to find different programs. There are many other ways, projects, cooperation between communities.” A diaspora community in one country can come to do a project in one part in Macedonia. The idea is to bring people in and create a bond, just like the Israeli example, however, developing that capacity will not be an easy task, even though Macedonia2025 already started the program with the Diaspora Summer Business Trip.

Following the example of Birthright Israel, what the Macedonian communities around the world need to do is locate community leaders and engage people in discussion. Then, once a possible project gets defined, people in the community and all over the world, need to find out about it and support it with money. According to research done by Birthright Israel, 90% of participants come from word of mouth. Once people begin to expand their networks in the Diaspora and connect with people and networks in Macedonia, it will be much easier to undertake various projects, including business cooperation.

Few examples from the Birthright program – Institutions in Israel offer ten week internships to a highly selective group of Ivy league students and graduates in the hi tech industry. This group is mentored by influential people in the industry who become their role models. The participants in this program learn how to develop business and how to be successful investors in Israel. Now there is a community of 250 such individuals who connected through Birthright Israel. About this particular program, Gidi Mark adds: “We don’t do this without two things: Israelis and research. We try to make Israel relevant for the people who visit.”

Mr. Mark makes another great point – you can talk about the past to young people once, twice, five times but not every day. This is an insight that should be understood by Macedonian community leaders who need to look beyond the difficult past, recognize it as something that unites all Macedonians, and put the real focus on ideas and projects that are constructive and that bring value to Macedonia.

“Israel doesn’t offer jobs to the people, it is all about creating the bond” says ambassador Oryan. The bond that Birthright created with the initial supporters of the program enabled the team behind it to make it happen. The first money to Birthright came because of the personal leadership of people. Jewish community leaders went to their friends and asked them to commit money and started with the commitment of 15 people.

This commitment goes back a long time. Jews from Bitola studied agriculture in the 30’s in Israel. When during the first gulf war Iraq dispatched bombs to Israel and caused destruction, Jewish communities around the world rallied and send money ten times the destruction to make a point that Israel is their country too. Universities and Hospitals bear the family names of donors. These institutions have links and cooperate globally. The Mendel family supports a school of leadership in Israel because this famous family decided that education is the key to going forward. Diaspora money supports all of Israel. What Birthright is doing is creating a new level of the bond and is creating a new generation of people committed to Israel.

These are the lessons that we can learn from a successful program in Israel, along with proof of the dedication with which the Jewish communities around the world are working to support the country. As an organization that is promoting business in Macedonia, Macedonia2025 will continue to do its best in realizing its mission and is counting on the help from Macedonians all over the world.

The discussion between Robert Arsov, Gidi Mark and ambassador Oryan can be seen HERE in full.

The author of the text is Martin Anastasovski, Content Developer at Macedonia2025

What we learn with pleasure, we never forget – an experience by Kostadin Solakov, Executive Study Tour participant

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I would like to sum up my experience with the Study Tour to Canada offered by Macedonia2025 through few key points:

Goals. Back in May last year when I applied for Macedonia2025’s Executive education scholarship my main goal was to get guidance on how to build up business case for our products and get the shareholder’s buy-in by showcasing the value that our solution is adding to their enterprise and to get formal training on enterprise analysis activities that I’m already responsible for as part of my daily job. The “Certificate in Strategic Enterprise Analysis and Consulting Skills” covered all these areas (and more) and after obtaining “TOGAF 9 – Certified Enterprise Architect” credential looked like good step in my professional development.

Experience. It would be understatement to say that the course syllabus and contents met my expectations. The unique mix of skillset that both instructors had enabled them to deliver the theoretical side of the topics but also to give solid practical examples how they have leveraged the tools we discussed about in real life customer facing scenarios.

The 5-day course curriculum covered all aspects of Enterprise Analysis project from project commencement through structured analysis, solution brainstorming and modelling activities, to presenting tangible and actionable deliverables backed up with profitable business case and feasible implementation strategy based on industry best practices and proven models.

And probably the best part of this course was the case study which we worked on throughout the course. Starting from day 1 we were grouped in two teams and given “real life” customer engagement for Enterprise Analysis activity. The goal was to leverage the tools and techniques we picked up along the way and come up with “way forward” proposal for our customer. Kudos to both instructors that tried to make this experience as realistic as possible by introducing role-playing interviews as well as last minute changes in stakeholder’s expectations and project goals. The exercise ended with team presentation when we got valuable feedback from both the instructors as well as the other participants.

My “aha” moments. Throughout the course many useful tools and techniques were covered and as many mind opening discussions happened. However, I would highlight the following 2 topics that I found most useful – on top of what my initial goals were:

  • Enterprise Gap Analysis. From my work experience as ERP implementation consultant I can confidently say that almost in every medium or big size project we document the current “as-is” and future “to-be” processes. Then we do Gap analysis of the “to-be” processes against the solution and identify the missing portions or gaps. With this exercise, we’ll make sure that the solution complies with the requirements given in the “to-be” processes. However, something that (almost) always is forgotten is analysis whether the organization has capabilities to support the new system. Our instructors presented set of tools that can be used to mitigate this risk and make sure our customers do not end up with state of the art system but no headcount or skillset to support it.
  • Enterprise Change Management. Another related and way too often overlooked area during project implementation and most of the time the main reason why the new system/process/structure does not blend with organization’s business processes and is one of the culprits for project failure. Good portion of the course covered tools and techniques that help consultants identify the project benefits and risks as well as formulate the message that will help manage the resistance towards change.

Thank you. At the end I would like to thank Macedonia 2025 for this amazing opportunity that was given to me to participate in this course. The takeaways from it are helping me to deliver better service and advance in my career. As much as I’m recommending this course to other professionals, I would highly recommend for this topic to be included in some of the activities planned by the organization. The content of this course is something that is not practiced by IT companies in Macedonia although selling solutions that are aligned with customers’ strategy and deliver clearly defined and measurable business value is the key to success in the competitive IT world.