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