By Jules Lavallee
Los Angeles, California (The Hollywood Times) 08/11/2020 –
You have helped to establish strong business relationships and investments between Europe and Kazakhstan. Please share your background.
That’s right, I was the initiator and co-founder of the Kazakh-Slovenian Business Club (KSBC). For the last few years, I have also been the president of the club, which we have developed and grown into a significant institution that has created many international successes since its inception.
KSBC was the official partner of the World Expo 2017 in Astana, every year we are special guests of the Astana Economic Forum, and the Global Investment Roundtable. We have received numerous international awards and recognitions at KSBC for our successful work fostering market expansion, promoting strategic partnerships, and driving investment. We are proud to say that KSBC today is the representative office of the national company of the government of Kazakhstan for investments in Central and South-Eastern Europe. Our success is evident in the number of members of the KSBC, which has been constantly growing since its establishment. Initially, club members hailed from only two countries, today, however, we can boast that members, who are successful export companies, come from 20+ different countries.
2020 has been a turbulent year, how have you pivoted during the pandemic?
I have to agree with you that 2020 has been extremely turbulent so far. We can only hope that the situation will calm down to some extent and that global markets will stabilize. But it is as it is, so we have to adapt to the situation and pivot away from the way things used to be done, because the world will definitely not return to the way we used to know. In light of this, we have been forced to make a number of critical business moves that may seem strange in the short term but will have positive effects, in the long run, leading to a quicker recovery and greater long-term resiliency. For us, international travel has been canceled, as the current epidemiological situation is not yet that we can travel safely. As the head of an organization that prioritizes international missions, we depend on face-to-face meetings, presentations, and even face-to-face lobbying for a certain project, complicated by the fact that we can’t travel, which makes the volatile business environment of 2020 seem like a disaster, however, it can actually be an opportunity for new projects, partnerships, and successes. 2020 will be a year of lost business. By no means does this mean that this will also be a year of lost opportunities. As we create opportunities for ourselves, so it is vitally important that we build networks, friendships, connect and, whenever possible, take advantage of the opportunities of the globalized and digital market. It is important that we have friends, that we belong to something – clubs or organizations, that we grow experientially and entrepreneurially, and that we have access to opportunities.
You are the Chairman of the Global Chamber of Business Leaders. What do you enjoy most about Entrepreneurship?
It is a great honor for me to have been entrusted with the mandate to lead the Global Chamber of Business Leaders at the beginning of this year. Little did we know at that time how disruptive and transformational this year would become! GCBL is an exceptional global organization with an extensive network of friends and partners from around the world. Transformation is important in these complex times, when the world, and with it the world economy and entrepreneurship, is facing completely new circumstances that require extreme ingenuity in many segments of the economy. Of course, this is not an easy period to serve in such a demanding role as leading a Global Organization whose main goal is to care for the welfare of the economy and connect business leaders, but I have a feeling that I have been entrusted with a special mission, and I do not take the magnitude of this responsibility lightly. I am proud to lead a team of people with rich experience. For the colleagues I have in GCBL, no task is too difficult, so in the end, the result will not be missed as we emerge as the leading organization for businesses and professionals in the world. The greatest pleasure I can share at the moment is seeing the results of good teamwork, working well for others, encouraging innovation, creativity, and caring for the weaker, for all those for whom we simply have to if we want to be a just society.
What are your goals for the organization in the upcoming months?
Immediately after taking over the position as Chairman GCBL, everything had to be adjusted to the so-called new normality. The goals are and must remain, the same, with only the paths leading to the goals changing and pivoting almost completely. The role that GCBL urgently needs to play at a time of a new virus pandemic is clear to connect business leaders around the world to promote innovation, partnership, recovery, and resiliency.
The GCBL currently has three guidelines outlined: Permanent analysis of the situation, constant connection of business leaders with the goal of creating new opportunities, and the growth and development of GCBL as the premier network of collaboration and opportunity.
Without an understanding of what is actually happening globally and what measures are necessary to improve the situation, and without assurances that appropriate measures are being taken, we will not have any logical progression or acceleration in our business markets. As is logical, growth is based on the results of the first, for which it is necessary to encourage the participation of business leaders from around the world. In my opinion, it is only through cooperation and the opening of economies that businesses around the world can realize true prosperity. During these challenging times, when businesses are looking for guidance and a lifeline, it is important to focus on GCBL growth. Without the continued growth of GCBL as an organization, and without strengthening the role of GCBL in the global market and consequently, in the eyes of business leaders, we would be in danger of falling into the trap of being just another regionalized business chamber in the market. Fortunately, as we are well aware of our importance to business and industry, so we are continually striving to build a strong organization of leaders, change-makers, thinkers, strategists, and innovators. As we are now growing at a rapid pace, we will increase the number of people on the Advisory Council, bring in some outstanding names from the global business world, start appointing local and regional directors for our GCBL chapters, connecting and collaborating with existing global organizations in a union of collaboration and support. We invite companies and their leaders to participate, welcoming them to become members of GCBL, benefitting from the value of our significant global network.
Share your vision to “new business” during the pandemic.
Even the worst crises have to carry the seeds of new opportunities and have done so throughout history. This is the way to look at the current pandemic, for which we continue to deal with. Every effort must be made to create the conditions for the continuation of global economic growth, and we have no time to waste. It is during times of adversity that fortunes are made and fortunes are lost. I do not agree with some who claim, pessimistically, that what is happening now is new and normal. Personally, I am an optimist and I know that we will defeat this virus and any other virus or challenge in the future. We need to take an active role in the shaping of our future. We need to explore, be curious, hope, and believe, while still being careful enough to be able to overcome the unexpected challenges which will emerge in the future. Even though I could talk about the opportunities offered by the current situation, I want to remain optimistic and be sure that this is just a transitional period that will pass and we can once again return to a more familiar business environment. The one certainty is that we have the power to shape and create the future, and this future will be strong and prosperous if we infuse unity, cooperation, sustainability, and resiliency into our business models.
You were appointed as a Senior Advisor of the largest technology investment project in the Balkans – Skopje Technology Park (STP). Tell us about this project.
Yes, I was invited to the Skopje Technology Park (STP) project, where I was appointed Senior Advisor and which I consider an extraordinary honor. The Skopje Technology Park (STP) is bringing together world leaders in technology to build one of the best technology parks in Europe in the heart of the Balkans, Skopje, the capital of North Macedonia. In a pioneering region, the park offers a work/live environment and smart city Technology Cluster. In the heart of Skopje, the plan includes an IoT hub, a business incubator, a center for cybersecurity, and a blockchain tech center. In the post-COVID-19 world, we live in, the planning for accommodating luxury residential, hotels, offices, shops STP has, as the focal point, a center for academia that will include representative offices and programs from some of the world’s best universities. We will incorporate the anchor niche markets: Data Centers & Data Management, Artificial Intelligence (AI) & Robotics, Internet of Things (IoT), Educational Technology, e-Government, Blockchain Technologies, Cybersecurity, FinTech.Important and relevant to The Hollywood Times audience is that we have another dynamic development on STP: along with some of the world’s best names in music (i.e. Akon) and cinema, we are including a new center for music and movie studios. The Balkans is a microcosm of cultures and many microclimates in close proximity to each other making it an attractive place for business. Last but not least, the STP project is only the first of the projects we are planning. New concrete projects are also planned, but it is too early to talk about them in public.
What are you most proud of?
In business terms, certainly, I am most proud of the co-workers and friends with whom I am connected through all the projects and functions I perform. I am proud that we are succeeding in our ambitious undertakings, and building strong mutual friendships in the process. Since the current situation is as it is, many of my friends around the world I have only had the pleasure of connecting digitally, so it is all the more satisfying when we not only manage to build such strong and solid friendships but accomplish many businesses successes, as well.
As a person of influence, share your perspective on how businesses can thrive during these times.
Unfortunately, there is no universal recipe for economic recovery. I’m also concerned that it will get worse before it gets better again. However, it is necessary to adapt to market conditions, including the introduction and adaptation of products and services, while also accounting for the changing purchasing power of the population, and the challenges in global supply chains. In reality, it is the businessmen and women who generate the flow of events and not the other way around. Business people urgently need to maintain faith in the future, hope and be aware that any crisis is only temporary. We need to identify and capitalize on the new gaps in the market, emerging as stronger, more dynamic businesses. Experience teaches us that there is always something new, rising like a Phoenix from the fire. If you sow new visions and opportunities, only then will you will have true success. At the Global Chamber of Business Leaders, we will encourage every entrepreneurial initiative, mentor young professionals, help develop ideas, innovate services, market products, network, connect and open doors, and support the idea that together we will be able to overcome this crisis…together, we are stronger.