Many of the attendees of the Summit and the Leadership Talks asked if we are going to share the speaker presentations. We are happy that the enthusiasm for going forward is strong and that the speakers were glad to share their presentations with everyone.
PANEL 1: ECONOMIC CHALLENGES OF SOUTH-EAST EUROPEAN REGION
PANEL 2: TRANSFORMING THE CULTURE IN SEE
PANEL 3: BUILDING TRASNFORMATIVE SECTORS IN SEE
PANEL 5: TECHNOLOGY & INNOVATION
PANEL 6: EMERGING COMPETITIVE SECTORS IN MACEDONIA
PANEL 7: TRANSORMING MACEDONIA INTO A HUB FOR “SMART INDUSTRIES”
The Macedonia Economic Summit concluded today following eight interactive, inspirational and informative panel discussions. Skopje was a great host to many leading experts who led the audience to think towards the new opportunities in business development. The impression of the participants was that knowledge should circulate and reach a wider audience, including the public administration, the private sector and academia.
The former Prime Minister of Georgia Mr. Nika Gilauri and the Program Director of the Pacific Institute Jim Dunn, both spoke about the real possibilities for companies, individuals, but also entire countries to carry out significant transformation. The discussion continued to mobile technology, management, improving the competitiveness in the country and undertaking strategic goals in development. One of the highlights of this day was the energetic speech by Tomi T Ahonen, who compared trends in mobile technology that are currently in development and pointed to the trend that will attract the most of the world’s attention and investment capital.
“There were more than 250 representatives of domestic and foreign companies present at the Summit. The better part of the attendees took notes during the presentations. This shows us that people are interested to take things in their own hands and not leave everything to probabilities and, of course, to start something new in Macedonia that will become a competitive export,” said the cofounder of Macedonia2025 Mike Zafirovski. “It is good that there was constructive criticism for the things that have to change in Macedonia. It is good that we are talking about that as well,” added Zafirovski.
Professor Harry Kraemer from the Kellogg School of Management, who is also the former CEO of Baxter and mentors a number of executives, spoke on the topic of building leadership that is founded on values. Following the Q&A session between he and Mr. Zafirovski, Mr. Kraemer signed more than 250 copies of his latest book, Becoming the Best.
The organizer stated that the professional diaspora provided an immense input at the Summit and contributed to the mapping-out of transformative processes in Macedonia. Macedonia2025 wishes to thank all innovative and proactive professionals who were part of the event. The organization continues to focus on its mission.
To the participants of the Leadership Talks:
We organized the free event in order to include more young professionals in the economic development conversation. The goal was to inspire the audience to think about business, leadership development and to inspire people to believe in themselves. Macedonia2025 is especially proud that around 400 of you attended the event and used the opportunity to gather insights from the speakers. We hope that the advice given by Mike Zafirovski, Jim Dunn, Dr. Ichak Adizes, Lou Naumovski, Sonja Smuc and the rest, will inspire you to set good goals in front of yourselves and accomplish those goals.
In today’s world of hyperconnectivity and free flow of information, including know-how, it takes a can-do attitude for anyone to realize their idea. The people who spoke at the Leadership Talks have taken on roles that require great responsibility and a high level of professionalism. And yet, these people are there for us, always accessible. These are the people that create jobs, develop infrastructure in cities, support startups, improve the culture of an organization and develop technologies. So, no matter how big or small your idea is, you should realize it because it matters, because it is important.
We invite you to imagine a better future, connect with like-minded people, invent, inspire and create.
Best of luck and much success on the road ahead of you,
From the Macedonia2025 team
The Macedonia Economic Summit 2015 has made a big step forward in inspiring, envisioning and integrating the regional economies.The Summit achieved its goal in becoming the leading regional platform for sharing knowledge.The event attracted more than 300 representatives of the private sector in Macedonia, representatives of government and non-government institutions, as well as foreign companies. The scope of the summit was extended with a considerable participation of experts with knowledge of the economies of South East European region. “The Summit was a well-organized world class event that achieved its purpose – it was useful, initiated a new way of thinking, and I hope that new actions will follow.” – stated Mr. Gazmend Kadriu, CEO at Union Bank from Albania and Summit Speaker.
The panels provided unique insights on improving regional competitiveness through best practices in values-based leadership, cultural transformation, innovation, technology and entrepreneurship. The key regional challenges identified by the speakers were: education of workforce, infrastructure, financial markets development, technological readiness, business sophistication, innovation. Policymakers heard first-hand impressions from the former Prime Minister of Georgia, NikaGilauri, who gave an overview of the changes that his administration introduced that resulted in significant improvements in his country.
Mr. Gilauri advised that Georgia’s economic advancement was preceded by a remarkable decrease in corruption which was achieved by across-the-table changes in the how the public administration provides its services, as well as greater accountability of higher-ranking officials. Mike Zafirovski, Co-Founder of Maceonia2025 presented a country dashboard that tracks a set of economic and non-economic metrics relevant to economic development in Macedonia. The dashboard was created with the help of McKinsey & Co. and a number of international advisors. The dashboard is significant because it will provide policymakers real data that is helpful in planning which areas should get higher priority and funding.
Across the panels the attendees heard what are the main challenges and opportunities in the SEE region, which sectors are competitive and should see further development and investments. The speakers concluded that the region needs to integrate economically in order to achieve growth and needs to pursue a strategy for developing the following competitive sectors as key drivers of economic growth:
- Organic food production
- Renewable energy and energy efficiency
- Hospitality and medical tourism
- Mining and infrastructure
- Smart industries, business process outsourcing and mobile
- Localized manufacturing of value-added designed products
The region’s advancement as a global player also depends on the mind-set. Jim Dunn, Program Director at the Pacific Institute talked about the need for a cultural transformation that will underpin any plan or strategies that set higher goals and aspirations, create success stories and enable people to learn from the best. A number of globally successful entrepreneur discussed the opportunities found on the Internet that enables savvy people to generate profits which can be a great opportunity for young people in Macedonia to compete on the global markets. The IT sector can get a good practice in developing smart apps that can be distributed globally. The speakers also presented buzz words that open new chapters in the world of advanced technologies, such as big data, cloud computing, predictive analytics and digital transformation. Regarding connectivity, international mobile expert Tomi T. Ahonen underscored that “Mobile comes first” and that the industry in just entering its golden age with a still untapped market potential of $7 trillion.
Harry Kraemer, Professor at the Kellogg School of Management and a widely cited author on leadership, delivered a speech on leadership development that is based on a set of clearly-defined values. His opinions inspired a lively discussion between him, Mike Zafirovski and the audience. The session with Mr. Kraemer was concluded with his signing of more than 250 copies of his latest bestselling book, Becoming the best: Build a World-Class Organization through Values-Based Leadership.
The Summit created a positive outlook that is likely to inspire cooperation between companies and individuals and broaden economic activity. The Summit already provided directions of economic development and the speakers shared insights that can be readily-implemented by existing companies as well as startups. The overall conclusion is that the Summit added to the continuation of good practices that are implemented in Macedonia that have supported economic development and attracted foreign investors.
Mario Seric, hospitality expert, who has made a significant contribution to Croatia’s transformation of that sector, said that the Summit is a great platform for discussing relevant issues concerning not only Macedonia, but the entire SEE region. He noted that Macedonia has many things that connect it with all of its neighboring countries and beyond, and that it should host the equivalent of the Davos forum for this region of Europe. This goes to affirm that one of the goals of the Summit was to discuss economic integration and cooperation between the countries in the region.
In addition to the main event, there were additional events that were open to the public, such as the Leadership Talks which gathered more than 400 young professionals. According to the attendees and the media, this was the most important event of the year in the area of business development. Petar Ribarski of Portline Airport Media Solutions, Summit Sponsor expressed his utmost satisfaction with the event: “Macedonia Economic Summit 2015 was very beneficial since we had the opportunity to gain experience from people that are in the highest business pedestals. Excellent selection of topics, great speakers, debates and presentations! It was truly an exciting and memorable experience! I also liked the networking aspect of the summit where we shared ideas and contacts with the business community in our country.”
Dan Braga of McKinsey & Company congratulated us on organizing “an amazing and world-class conference.” Mr. Braga added, “I am so incredibly impressed, and feel so inspired and energized.” Allan Castillo, CEO of Lynx Animation Studios in Skopje, said: “The Summit was extremely interesting and fun” and that is eagerly looking forward to the next one.
The organizers are grateful for everyone’s participation and have concluded that this summit generated three main achievements:
- Macedonia has more friends globally
- The region has great prospects and talents, but needs to integrate
- The Diaspora is inspired to give back to their homeland
Prominent experts, analysts and entrepreneurs from a number of countries will talk about economic development and the development of Macedonia at the third economic Summit in the country (November 18 – 20), organized by Macedonia2025.
The organizer announced today a new keynote speaker, the former prime minister of Georgia Nika Gilauri, who will talk about the transformation of his country into one of the fastest-growing economies in Europe and about the reforms that were carried out by his team.
Before taking on the role of Prime Minister from early 2009 until 2012, Mr. Gilauri was Minister of energy and Minister of Economy. During his tenures he introduced measures that led to a drastic decrease in corruption. Georgia marked a huge jump on the Doing Business list from number 112 in 2006 to number 9 in 2009. Currently, Mr. Gilauri is an adviser with the consultancy house McKinsey and leads the Bank of Georgia branch in Turkey.
“Considering that Macedonia and Georgia are comparative examples, this country is part of the Country Dashboard index that Macedonia2025 has been working on in this past period. The goal of this index is to measure how Macedonia is advancing. The index was created in cooperation with McKinsey & Co, with the input of MK2025 members of the Board, as well as through discussion with the economic development Boards of Singapore, Turkey and other countries. Mr. Gilauri has also provided his input in developing the index.
The Country Dashboard relies on publically-available data and includes the four strategic priorities that Macedonia2025 uses as framework to contribute to the development of Macedonia. This monitoring tool can also serve the Government of Macedonia, political parties, businesses, academia and so on,” says the report by Macedonia2025
The Board of Directors has a goal to raise to a higher level the impact of the organization’s strategic priorities and to broaden the definition of its credo, “Helping build a stronger nation.” To that end, the organization is adding a fifth point to its mandate: “Maintain and facilitate discussions around a ‘Country Dashboard’, to monitor broad progress on growth and quality of life.” The Country Dashboard will be presented at the Summit in Skopje and a summary about what it includes can be found on the following page.
04Mr. Papazoski, as it is announced, at the upcoming Economic Summit to be held in Skopje from November 18 – 20 and organized by Macedonia 2025, you will be talking about Macedonia’s potentials to become an outsourcing center following Poland’s successful example. Tell us, please, what Macedonia’s potentials really are, having in mind that this activity is very scarce in the country?
Metodija Papazoski: The biggest potential that one country possesses for becoming an outsourcing hub is the human capital. The target employees for these centers (Business Process Outsourcing and Shared Service Centers excluding the IT sector) are young people fresh out of University with no special skills. We have to admit, we have plenty of those. In many cases the candidates need to speak a language other than English, but I do not think this will be a major obstacle. The mobility of the students nowadays has increased significantly and there are more and more young people speaking other languages. This is a labor intensive industry and for sure it will help to decrease the extremely high unemployment rate among the young people in the country. Just to give you an idea about the sheer size of the industry in Poland, only Krakow employs more than 30,000 people in the sector, while Poland as a whole over 150,000. Average number of people employed in one center is 230 people. The vast majority of employed people are young people. It has to be emphasized that this group of people is the most vulnerable and these are the people that after failing to find a decent job in Macedonia, leave the country for good. Thus, the potential is there, it just has to be realized.
Pundits would say that there is an ongoing trend of moving the outsourcing centers from Asia to southeastern Europe, and many such centers are already operative in the regional countries. What could Macedonia, according to you, do to attract large international companies specialized in this activity?
Metodija Papazoski: I would rather say that there is a trend of diversification between Asia and CEE and SEE lately. The companies have realized that in many cases it does not make sense to establish BPO and especially SSC Centers in South East Asia. The financial costs are just one piece of the puzzle and companies take this into consideration more and more. Cultural differences, work ethics and time differences are also being analyzed and in many cases these factors outweigh the savings in money. This is the reason that many companies have decided to invest in such centers in CEE. On another hand, I believe there will be a trend where these centers will slowly move from more advanced CEE countries like the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland mainly because these countries are becoming more and more expensive in terms of salaries (which is the biggest cost of an outsourcing center), to countries in SEE like Romania, Bulgaria, Serbia, and hopefully Macedonia. What Macedonia needs to do, is be more aggressive in promotion and not allow this trend to just pass us by. Preparation of a detailed strategy is a must. Macedonia should target both professional BPO companies, and at the same time go after the SSC segment, initially through companies that have already presence in Macedonia, and later expanding the promotion to other companies as well. It has to be stated that the costs for investing in a SCC center are much lower than investing into production facility, thus in theory, the decision making process is much shorter.
You are a founder and a chairman of the EMBS Group, a company based in Poland, and you have over 10 years of experience in strategic counseling and business consulting projects. Could you tell us something about your beginnings, how did you come to the idea to become a co-founder of a company in Poland, what exactly is your field of work and what are your plans for the future?
Metodija Papazoski: EMBS Group has been on the market for the last four and a half years. Before that I was working for a British – American business consulting company for over six years. After becoming the Head of Consulting, I decided that it is a good time to try to build something from scratch and together with two other senior managers from the company we started EMBS. I was already located in Poland, thus it felt natural that the company remains in Krakow. Currently, we work on projects in Europe and the CIS countries, mostly for global companies, or as a regional partner to other consultancies. The scope of our work is related to strategy, competitive intelligence, market studies, commercial due diligence and similar, although it is very difficult to generalize, due to the fact that each project is tailored made and based on the specific needs of the client. The plan for the future is to take EMBS Group to the next level, i.e. from mostly European company to become a global player in the consulting world where we will be able to compete and win projects head to head with other major players in the industry.
How much are you able to follow the developments in Macedonia, especially the economic ones? How would you assess the business climate in Macedonia and do you have contacts with Macedonian companies?
Metodija Papazoski: I go to Macedonia few times each year and I try to follow the situation on regular basis. There have been some encouraging signs coming from Macedonia, like the increased inflow of FDI and decrease in the unemployment rate recently. On the other hand the country remains very unstable politically, which does not help the business climate and for sure will have big impact on the economy. When it comes to contacts with Macedonian companies, I have some from time to time, depending on a project.
Do you have plans to invest in Macedonia, or to mediate an investment by Polish companies or investors from the European countries with whom you have good business relations?
Metodija Papazoski: It has to be stated that we do not work on many projects that involve direct investment. Such projects are usually carried out by the national investment agencies that do this work for free. We rather work on M&A projects, supply chain optimization and similar. I try to promote Macedonia as much as I can, however, when working for a specific client, we take their interest above everything else. I will only advise the client to invest in Macedonia, if that is in their best interest. In the past, I have provided work for several Macedonian companies involved in industrial production, as well as was involved in few M&A transactions. What will the future bring, it is difficult to say, but I hope there will be more and more opportunities to involve Macedonia and Macedonian companies in our projects.
What are your expectations from the Economic Summit in Skopje?
Metodija Papazoski: I see the Summit as great opportunity to exchange ideas that will hopefully turn into specific actions which will contribute to the development of Macedonia. Macedonia 2025 is doing excellent work, and I am happy to be part of it!
Macedonia 2025 will hold our 3rd Economic Summit in Skopje November 18th-20th, bringing together leaders and experts from every sector from around the world for a series of dialogues and commitments to accelerate economic growth and prosperity in Macedonia.
Since its inception in 2007, MK2025 has been dedicated to creating a prosperous economic climate and “stronger nation” in the homeland, to improve opportunities and innovation for its citizens, domestic companies, and foreign investors. Key achievements to date have centered around:
- Attracting/accelerating foreign direct investment and strengthening diaspora linkages, in part through Economic Summits in Ohrid and Skopje, Canadian days Macedonia, and business forums in Toronto, Paris, and Columbus;
- Fostering the transfer of leadership and management knowhow to produce growth and sustainable performance by entrepreneurs and domestic companies, with education programs now having more than 250 alumni and with our recent Gala Dinner raising more than $1 million for the Education Fund.
Building on theses successes and momentum to date, the Board decided to step back in early 2015 to re-visit and re-iterate the strategic priorities of MK2025, in order to extend and deepen our impact. These strategic objectives, to be further discussed at the Summit, include:
1. Help accelerate economic development
- Attract Foreign Investment
- Support competitiveness of Macedonian companies and stimulate export development
- Support the growth of entrepreneurs and start-up companies
2. Implement education programs that accelerate leadership development and inspire and improve entrepreneurship in Macedonia
3. Provide the Diaspora an opportunity to strengthen and improve linkages worldwide
4. Advocate the ideals of transparent, democratic and inclusive society – good for the citizens, and good for economic development
In addition, the Board sought to elevate these strategic priorities and bring greater definition to what we mean by “a stronger nation” in 2025, so added a 5th objective around helping to: 5. Maintain and facilitate discussions around a ‘Country Dashboard’, to monitor broad progress on growth and quality of life. The Dashboard was shaped based on extensive outside support (including discussions with the Economic Development Boards of Singapore, Turkey and other countries; interview with former Prime Minister of Georgia; expertise of McKinsey & Company), and was discussed and approved be the entire MK2025 Board and Honorary Board. The Dashboard, using publicly available data, incorporates not only the 4 strategic priorities that will highlight the work of MK2025 going forward, but also the initiatives of leaders in government, political parties, business, or academic arenas. The Dashboard will be briefly discussed at the Summit and available on MK2025’s website later this week.
We look forward to the Summit as an opportunity to celebrate the broad progress of Macedonia, provide a forum for continued acceleration of growth and prosperity, and make continued contributions and progress toward our collective desire for a “stronger nation” in 2025 and beyond.
The dashboard can be viewed here