Robert Ljoljo at AmCham Slovenia Business Breakfast on competitiveness of Slovenia

3. 3. 2021

On Wednesday, March 3, President of the Board of Management of Lek and Novartis Country President Slovenia Robert Ljoljo participated at the business breakfast hosted by American Chamber of Commerce Slovenia (AmCham), where guests were discussing the post-pandemic recovery and how to position Slovenia among the world’s 15 most competitive countries. In addition to Novartis Country President in Slovenia, Finance Minister Andrej Šircelj and responsible partner of Deloitte for Slovenia Barbara Žibret Kralj also discussed the future of Slovenia.  

After the successful start of vaccination in Slovenia and favorable GDP forecasts, we are entering a period when we can start talking with more optimism about the future of Slovenia and its potential that will strengthen its position in Europe and beyond. The panelists at the AmCham Business Breakfast agreed that Slovenia has plenty of opportunities and can become one of the 15 most competitive countries in the world with some adjustments. In the discussion, Robert Ljoljo emphasized the importance of digitization and automation, which will bring major changes to jobs. At the same time, he stressed the importance of the organizations’ agility and the advantages of transforming companies from hierarchical structures, as is currently being introduced by Novartis in Slovenia.

»Through the eyes of foreigners, Slovenia is a land of opportunities, with a good education system, highly educated professionals, opportunities for development, a health system at a comparable level and affordable living costs. By strengthening digitization and automation that awaits us in the coming years, many opportunities for value-added jobs are opening up, which we are already introducing at Novartis. In general, Slovenia also has a sufficient knowledge base for the service industry with high added value, which as a country, we are currently neglecting. In the future, it is expected that 50% of jobs will have to be adapted, which we must take into account when planning measures,« believes Ljoljo. As opportunities for improvement, he pointed out the need for change in the tax burden on labor, the elimination of bureaucratic obstacles, shortcomings in the field of infrastructure and the internationalization of talent.   

Coping with the pandemic has highlighted some of the characteristics of organizations that have contributed to successful operations in extraordinary circumstances and will add value in assessing a country’s competitiveness in the future. The crisis has affected different sectors in a different way, but roughly speaking, organizations that have already started with digital transformation and were attuned to job flexibility have done better. »crisis always shows opportunities for improvement and creates opportunities that were previously invisible. At Novartis in Slovenia, we see these opportunities in the development of a company culture that is flexible, agile and achieves good results through the empowerment of employees and a common desire to exceed our goals. I believe that the company culture is one of the key competitive advantages, whether we are talking about facing the crisis, retaining talent or competing with those who are bigger and stronger,« Ljoljo pointed out, among other things.

At the end of the discussion, the speakers also briefly addressed the exit strategy, which is focused on the green and digital economy. Robert Ljoljo agreed that in addition to the financial aspects, it is necessary to keep sustainability in mind when setting the strategy. 

»When we talk about sustainability, we are not only talking about the environment, to which we will pay even more attention, but also about the sustainable aspects of society. The current crisis has shown how important the robustness of the healthcare system is, so it is necessary to invest in this. The digitization of healthcare, telemedicine, will be crucial to shortening the long waiting lists, as well as the digitization of education. It is necessary to continue with reforms in public administration and strengthen digitization,« said the President of the Board of Management of Lek.

He also pointed out: »It is important what kind of brand Slovenia will create for itself. Will we just be a nice country for tourism, or will we be a country that has the knowledge and knows how to stand out with the best on the international stage, despite being small? Slovenia will have to look for   opportunities to bring about greater agility and flexibility.«

A summary of the full discussion is available on the AmCham website.