Be a Leader. Be Yourself. To Lead Others, Learn to Lead Yourself First.

AmCham Young Professionals™ 5th meeting
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Our gests were two top business leaders.

Branislav Knežević, McDonald's Development Licensee Partner. At the peak of his career, he was responsible for more than 2100 restaurants with nearly 96.500 employees. 

Matej Potokar, MBA, General Manager Customer Service and Support – Western Europe, Microsoft. He comes from South-East Europe and leads a Western Europe divison.

What were your impressions?

Leaders need to know the differences between individuals and to understand the benefits that each one of them brings to the team. Every team member is unique and represents a piece of a puzzle. With his/her knowledge, experiences and personal traits he/she adds a value to the team. Leader’s mission is to put the pieces together and make the puzzle complete.

Katarina Hartman, Knauf Insulation 

 

Be authentic leader. I was impressed by leadership style of Mr Matej Potokar from Microsoft, who explained us that you can’t be a leader unless you can be authentic. Be yourself and help your company, your business, and your team realize that their strongest assets are within themselves. To put in the nutshell: a leader must understand that each employee has also his own values and that he follows own career. You as the leader have to respect it and to promote core values of the company, which means not only to believe those values but also live them.

Tomaž Brcar, Trimo d.d

 

Optimism and authenticity radiating from Matej Potokar are not only a means of encouragement for tackling business challenges, but also a source of inspiration for finding new personal struggles towards success. Branislav Knežević's life story on the other hand represents an extremely convincing example of the fact that hard work, perseverance and ingenuity will bring you anywhere regardless of the socio-political environment you came from. A talk with both of them together made for a pleasantly motivating evening.

Bojana Kenda, Aviat d.o.o.

 

Both managers were a true inspiration! I was amazed by their optimism and positive approach to business and life. There are three things I will remember from this meeting: 1) Cultural differences are a big factor. At the end of the day, it's all about the people and you need to be able to understand what everybody wants and how they operate. As I am working in an international environment and dealing with cultural differences ranging from Middle East to North America on a daily basis I will put more focus on this topic in the future.  2) A quote from Mr. Knežević: »There is no finish line in education.« Willingness to learn is a key factor to success. In today’s era of digitalization, capturing new information every day is a must. Besides that, I believe enabling people to grow and develop, keeps them engaged and motivated. 3) A good team consists of experts in different fields and the manager’s job is to orchestrate this team and lead it towards a clearly defined goal.  

Nina Zalaznik, Iskraemeco d.d.

Leadership is art. It is all about people, gaining their respect and motivating them taking into consideration the diversity aspect.

Lea Pfajfar Cotič, Ernst & Young d.o.o.

 

 

 

 

Mr Potokar and Mr Knežević showed us that management of people is a form of art. They provided valuable insights into leading multicultural teams, emphasized the meaning of hard work and ethics as well as reminded us to stay true to ourselves and our core values.

Sabina Pirnat, PWC d.o.o.

 

Through questions of fellow peers and conversation with Mr. Potokar in the following networking time I received answers to practically all questions I brought to the meeting. Among other things as a higher level top manager in large corporations you need to make more use of diplomatic / political skills as a lower level manager, but it is also very important to ensure that your information goes the right way to reach all the appropriate levels of staff and to stay available and genuine. Even in bad times you have to stay professional, living your values ​​and bringing as much passion as you can. As a leader you must first know how to manage yourself, only then you can lead or manage others. When leading international businesses and teams you always have to adapt to local culture and values of people who you are doing business with. For such leadership permanent self-education is a must, high emotional intelligence and good body language reading skills are also highly valuable. Leadership is an art, in the end knowing how to work with people is the most important thing.​ Do everything you are doing the best you can, do not accept incoming challenges as problems but rather as opportunities and take advantage of them!

Domen Ivanšek, Knauf Insulation d.d. 

It was good to hear some first-hand experience from leaders, who are leading by example. The message that I remember the most is that in every assignment/responsibility you have, always try to give the best that you can. Only a proven track of good results will bring you to the next desired steps in your career.

Mitja Rakar, Cisco