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After study

Alumni stories

Story: Prof. Dr. Metka Tekavčič

BRIEF PRESENTATION

  • Year of completion and field of study at the SEB LU: 1995, doctoral degree in science
  • Words you associate with the SEB LU: Our faculty
  • Favourite book: I am particularly fond of quite a few. But if I had to pick just one, it would be The Little Prince, due to the idea that one’s eyes are blind and it is necessary then to look with one’s heart.
  • Life motto: Think positively and look ahead. Help if you can and, if you can’t, don’t do any harm.

Q&A INTERVIEW

1. You’ve held different roles at the SEB LU: the study period, professorship, and the role of dean. What do you see as the charm and challenge of these roles?

My studies were a wonderful time. This period saw me broaden many of my horizons and I made a series of friendships that continue even today. When I was at gimnazija (secondary school), my teachers encouraged me to study medicine, but I wanted to study mathematics. I changed my mind at the last moment; it was during summer when I visited the faculty and I didn’t like it. Today, this would not be as simple but, for me, it worked out well. Economics is more a living science. It deals with people and complex social issues, which has always attracted me. I am still very fond of mathematics, but I also love the material I teach at the SEB LU. I have been working with students for over 30 years now and I really love my work. I love being in the lecture room, I love working as a mentor and I am happy for students' successes. The curiosity, joy and expectations of every student generation imbue teachers with special energy. I have learned a lot from my teachers and I am also constantly learning from my students. It is nice to impart one’s knowledge and experience to younger generations. This is also true for the role of Dean, even that brings some additional challenges and responsibilities. What seems important to me is being aware that the SEB LU is made up of the people that create it and that, together, we are responsible for its development through the quality of our work. Everyone is responsible for what they do and say. When we listen, we are also responsible for what we hear. We should consider Goethe’s idea that a person hears only what they understand. That’s why my aim is for our students to hear a lot. To continue exploring the treasure trove of knowledge, develop critical thought, contribute to the creation of new knowledge and significantly co-create our future.

2. Which words have you heard at the SEB LU that stay in your memory, and who said them?

While studying, namely during the time of the former state, I was president of the Faculty’s student organisation. The Dean at the time, Prof. Vladimir Frankovič, often told me: “Go around the world with your eyes wide open. And, above all, go around the world! Take every opportunity you get. Even if you go abroad only to glance at your watch, your horizons will broaden and you will learn something new”. The SEB LU’s management was encouraging us to engage in all kinds of international activities. This idea has stayed inside me forever and I have often recalled the professor’s words while discussing internationalisation and the need to build the SEB LU’s international presence. Many generations of students and professors have contributed to the fact that today the SEB LU, boasting two of the most prestigious accreditations in the field of business education, is globally recognised as a high quality international business and economics school. Twenty years ago, this was just a dream, today it is our reality.

3. The SEB LU has celebrated a major anniversary, 70 years. How do you see the SEB LU when it will be marking its 80th anniversary?

A good year ago, the SEB LU adopted a new strategy. We formulated it using a process of the verification and alignment of ideas and options in a series of different activities that all staff and other academic community members participated in. The strategy is ambitious and its success depends on how we actually put it into practice. This is our combined responsibility and thus it was only right that we pooled our efforts. I believe in this. We wrote in our vision that, by 2025, the SEB LU will be the school of choice in business and economics in Central Europe for doing research, learning, and creating sustainable development solutions.

Prepared by: Tina Drolc, MSc
University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business

Story: Janez Škrabec, founder and General Manager of Riko d.o.o.

BRIEF PRESENTATION

(born in 1963)

  • Year of completing studies at the SEB LU: 1987, field of foreign trade
  • Words you associate with the SEB LU: An essential and irreplaceable step in my life and business career. A high school of thinking. Socialising with lucid people, forming of a generation and friendships.
  • Favourite book: I’d put on a pedestal – unfairly so, given all the other books that have enchanted me — the book Natasha's Dance written by Orlando Figes. If I add the book Civilisation by Niall Ferguson and Why Nations Fail by Daron Acemoglu and James A. Robinson, then a really deep insight into the fabric of our society is provided. In the broadest possible sense. These are must-read books for all those who wish to understand.
  • Life motto: Expect nothing, blame no one, do something.

Q&A INTERVIEW

1. How do you recall your study years at the SEB LU and why did you accept the position of President of the SEB LU Alumni club?

Enthusiasm, the lively and frank exchange of ideas, excellent and ideologically open professors, faith in the future of free initiative, entrepreneurship and society. Unforgettable memories. Only later in life did it become crystal clear how important this period was in terms of formation. This was not only a time of broadening and deepening knowledge but also of creating and reinforcing values. And important connections. That is why I enjoy being President of the SEB LU Alumni club – it’s a party of the best that will mark our future. The connections within the club are connections for life, during upcoming times of dilemmas and trials. If I can contribute to this in any way, then I’m more than pleased to be part of it.

2. Which words have you heard at the SEB LU that stay in your memory, and who said them?

I would say Prof. Dr. Ivo Fabinc, who revealed to us the charms of foreign and/or international trade. As if it were yesterday, I still remember his lectures, abounding with examples from practice, whereas the study content was enriched with anecdotes and his own experience. I recall one lecture where he was recounting a class="open_tab" id="show" story from India and told us what he had to eat during a meeting there. I forget exactly what kind of food it was, but you can trust me, it was not tasty! The lesson he shared with us was: “If you are not ready to do what I did, then this is not the right path for you”.

3. The SEB LU has celebrated a major anniversary, 70 years. How do you see the SEB LU when it will be marking its 80th anniversary?

The faculty members will be even more connected with the world and international centres; it will be a flow-through and much-desired study destination and a well-known starting point for our students who decide to pursue their studies internationally. This is not fortune-telling, it’s a prognosis based on a realistic assessment.

Story: Mr. Aleš Mižigoj, General Manager of Medex d.o.o.

BRIEF PRESENTATION

  • Year of completion and field of study at the SEB LU: I completed my studies at the SEB LU in 1958. There was only one universal programme at the time.
  • Your professional title/education: I graduated with the academic title “graduate economist”.
  • Words you associate with the SEB LU: New horizons have started to broaden in economic science.
  • Favourite book: My favourite book of all is The Serfs by Ivan Cankar.
  • Life motto: Eternal optimist.

Q&A INTERVIEW

1. Why did you decide to take up study at the SEB LU and how do you recall your study days?

When I was a schoolboy I already showed an interest in the market. My family had a farm and we grew strawberries, cherries and peaches. In the afternoons I’d take a basket of strawberries, cherries or peaches and sell them door to door around Krško. I was quite successful. My studies at the SEB LU gave me considerable theoretical knowledge that I have been able to practically use all my life. I remember my student days mostly by a very strenuous first year during which Prof. Dr. Vadnal gave lectures on mathematics. I hardly had any knowledge from the secondary school of economics, so I’d lose heart sometimes, questioning myself why I had even chosen that study, but my desire to do business was stronger. So this difficult study with mathematics was the biggest obstacle I had to overcome in all of my studies. During my full-time studies, I managed the Office for Pre-military Education.

2. How has the SEB LU impacted your career? Which words have you heard at the SEB LU that stay in your memory, and who said them?

As I stated earlier, I worked on building up the theoretical foundations of economics. What I remember the most are the contents delivered by professors Dr. Vadnal, Dr. Modic and Dr. Dular.

3. The SEB LU has celebrated a major anniversary, 70 years. How do you see its role today, has it changed?

The fundamental role of the SEB LU must remain, namely imparting theoretical knowledge of economics. Of course, the study is completely different today than it was 60 years ago. I am sure the SEB LU is also excellent today, and that it also produces high-quality personnel. I recommend that the SEB LU to employ more professors from abroad for the purpose of internationalisation and thereby increase its reputation on a global scale.

Prepared by: Tina Drolc, MSc

University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business

Story: Tomaž Berločnik, MSc, CEO of Petrol d.d.

BRIEF PRESENTATION

  • Year of completing studies at the SEB LU: 1997
  • Your professional title/education: Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering; Master of Economic Science, MBA
  • Words you associate with the SEB LU: I completed a one-year master’s study programme at the SEB LU which was entirely run at Radovljica under the leadership of Prof. Dr. Janez Prašnikar. It was a very intense study year, so the words I associate with the SEB LU are hard work and Professor Prašnikar. In an extremely short time (including Saturdays and Sundays), our professor engaged us to the maximum and we received an enormous volume of knowledge.
  • Favourite book: I don’t have a favourite book – I read a lot and I’m a book-lover. I should like to mention a book, that is perhaps less known, but I truly recommend it: Blink by Malcolm Gladwell.
  • Life motto: "Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be done today.”

Q&A INTERVIEW

1. Your first contact with the SEB LU was as a student, whereas today your company is its strategic partner. You have been involved with the SEB LU for a long time – how did you see it during your time of studies as opposed to today?

From my study days at the SEB LU (1996–1997) until today the SEB LU has changed tremendously. Nowadays, it is an internationally recognised, triple-accredited faculty. It has the ambition to become the best faculty in the region, meaning it has in place a very strong strategy, vision and aspiration.

The SEB LU’s international orientation is worth emphasising. Namely, when I was a student, the only English-language study available was the master’s study led by Prof. Dr. Prašnikar, and there were practically no students from abroad. Today, most modules are run in English, foreign students are everywhere, there are exchanges of professors…. Nevertheless, the actual campus premises – the buildings and corridors – that we walked in then and we walk in today have not changed.

2. What in your opinion has been the role of the SEB LU and its meaning for the Slovenian economy? Which words have you heard at the SEB LU that stay in your memory, and who said them?

Since completing my studies, I am still in contact with the SEB LU through educational courses and symposiums, and I also share my experience with students as a guest lecturer. Like other faculties of the University, the SEB LU plays a valuable role in the Slovenian economy. Over time, the SEB LU has been completely restructured – not only in terms of costs but also the programmes. It is important to stress that there is no economy without economic and technical knowledge, yet it is also true that possessing only the latter is insufficient for a person aiming for business success. The SEB LU very successfully disseminates economic know-how as well as educates the whole of Slovenia and the region about the latest business models.

Of all the professors, the following three still linger in my memory: the unrelenting and unyielding Prof Dr. Janez Prašnikar – our ‘mother and father’, who accompanied us practically from ‘morning till night’ and found more inside us than we first thought existed. There were also foreign lecturers who acquainted us with the latest practices in economics.

Prof. Dr. Dušan Mramor was adept at imparting to us, i.e. technical guys with a different view of economic challenges financial knowledge in an extremely effective and simple manner.

Finally, I’d like to mention these words – not so much economic as much as visionary – that Prof. Dr. Marko Jaklič uttered during my studies (in 1997), after having asked which of us students had a mobile phone, with most of us nodding yes in reply. The professor said: “The most privileged will be those who, in 5 years’ time, will not have to use a mobile phone.”

3. The SEB LU has celebrated a major anniversary, 70 years. How do you see the SEB LU at the time that it will be marking its 80th anniversary?

I see it even more youthful, on the same campus – at the same location and completely international. I see the celebration of the 80th anniversary being entirely in English and perhaps it is not even necessary for the SEB LU’s Dean to be Slovenian.

Story: Sonja Šmuc, Executive Director of the Managers' Association of Slovenia

BRIEF PRESENTATION

  • Year of completing studies at the SEB LU: 1997, 2016
  • Your professional title/education: Master of Economics
  • Words you associate with the SEB LU: Red colour
  • Favourite book: There are too many…
  • Life motto: Life gives you as much as you put into it.

Q&A INTERVIEW

1. The Managers’ Association has over 1,000 members – representatives of companies’ top, executive and middle managers in Slovenia. As Executive Director of the Managers’ Association, how do you see the SEB LU’s role and its meaning for the Slovenian economy?

Business and economic faculties have an important impact on the economy’s development – the better they are, the more qualified are the executives in our companies and the better are our economic results.

2. Which words have you heard at the SEB LU that stay in your memory, and who said them?

I recall trying to emulate Prof. Kovač in how he talked and wrote in such a refined manner, so that in the first year I could only hope to understand some of it in the future. It’s not about the words, but the concept: the SEB LU helped me develop a model of comprehensive thinking. On a personal level, I remember how surprised I was when in my third year the late Prof. Glas wrote in a recommendation he gave me for study abroad that I was one of the 5% top students, even though my grades did not just include 10s. I was more than honoured and felt a responsibility to justify his trust in me.

3. The SEB LU has celebrated a major anniversary, 70 years. How do you see the SEB LU at the time it will be marking its 80th anniversary?

Its international component will develop even more as the share of foreign students and professors will continue to grow. The SEB LU will be a paragon of academic digitalisation. Alumni will be sources of good stories – they will manage good companies at home and abroad and among these at least one will be a female prime minister.

Story: Mr. Bojan Maher, student of the first generation

BRIEF PRESENTATION

(born in 1924)

  • Year of completion and field of study at the SEB LU: February 1951. There was only one field of study.
  • Words you associate with the SEB LU: Profound knowledge of economics.
  • Favourite book: Biographies of famous people
  • Life motto: Continual deepening of knowledge, especially in the field of economics.

Q&A INTERVIEW

1. How do you recall the beginnings of the SEB LU as a representative of the first generation of its graduates?

Before the SEB LU was established, students could study economics at the University of Zagreb in Croatia or at the University of Vienna in Austria. In Slovenia, namely in Ljubljana and Maribor, the highest level of commerce-related education was available at the Trade Academy. I graduated there and this gave me independence in my trading profession. I wanted to gain additional knowledge of economics so I decided to take up studies at the SEB LU, which was established in March 1946. Due to pressure from the students, the lectures started already in the spring semester. They were delivered on the premises of the Ljubljana City Theatre, today’s MGL. The lectures were delivered from the main stage while the students sat in the stalls, taking notes on their knees. In the first year, 500 students enrolled in full-time and part-time studies. The lectures were mostly given in the morning. Many graduates of the first generation were appointed to SEB LU Assistant position and later promoted to a professorship.

2. How did the SEB LU affect your career and in which roles were you engaged in professionally?

My first job was assistant in the finance field, under the leadership of Prof. Potočnik, where I worked for 2 years. Then I had to perform compulsory military service. During that period, the professor passed away and the newly-appointed Prof. Pokorn appointed Mr. Ribnikar as his assistant, who later became a full-time professor at the SEB LU.

My second job, where I worked for 21 years, was in the foreign trade department of the Jugotekstil company. I was initially an independent sales clerk, then manager of the section and eventually head of the department. I worked in the executive office where I was responsible for setting up companies abroad. Jugotekstil had independent companies in Milan, Zürich, Trieste and Munich.

Before retirement, I worked for 15 years with Ljubljanska banka, later renamed Nova Ljubljanska banka. I was employed by an institute for evaluating investments that used budgetary funds. My last position was independent director for credit monetary savings, when I took over the Planning, Statistics and IT Department.

3. What do you wish the SEB LU for its 70th birthday?

To continue developing, building up its reputation, including abroad, and to increasingly attract foreign students and lecturers.

Story: Dr. Cveta Mlakar, University Professor at the SEB LU, retired

BRIEF PRESENTATION

(born in 1919)

  • Year of completion and field of study at the SEB LU: 1951. There was only one field of study.
  • Words you associate with the SEB LU: My initial enthusiasm for study and how lucky I was to have the opportunity to study, especially Marx’s teachings and theory.
  • Favourite book: Marx and Samuelson
  • Life motto: Hard work and a little luck and you can succeed.

1. How do you remember the beginnings of your study?

Perhaps I can tell an interesting example of the obstacles and condescension women had to face 77 years ago when we took up a university study and wanted to work in a professional area. Ever since, women have been encountering different obstacles. But they can’t deprive us of our life energy, and many times they even reinforce us.

In autumn 1938 I came to the University of Ljubljana to study electrical engineering. In the first year of study, technicians and philosophers/mathematicians were put together in a joint mathematics class. Prof. Rihard Zupančič, an old professor with a big beard, deep voice and imposing presence, entered the lecture room. After looking around, he said calmly and slowly: “The first thing I see is that there are too many women in here. Women are not for mathematics, because they are slow-witted. So I call upon all the women here to leave as soon as possible, to switch their pencils for wooden spoons and find themselves husbands because that is the reason you have come to university.”

With such a beginning, the female students were very confused and scared. I, on the contrary, found this ‘introductory speech’ motivating: I was even more keen on the study, I wanted to resist and was determined not to give up and to continue with the study so as to negate the professor’s unpleasant views. At the next seminar, there were only three female students alongside our male colleagues, the rest had gone. Prof. Zupančič came in, looked around and, when he saw the relative absence of women, he continued, visibly satisfied: “Mathematics is a wonderful science, but it is only for the chosen ones who do not learn by heart but employ their mental abilities to think and use logic”. In the next classes, I carefully followed the professor’s study instructions. He would examine our written assignments with solutions to differential equations and kindly nod to me (a woman!) several times upon seeing that I had the correct results.

In 1939 I had to take my first mathematics exam with this professor. At the exam, my three male colleagues were already there (they strongly wanted to be before me). But they had failed already at the first question and exited the room in despair. I was the last to go in. I gathered my courage and self-confidence. The professor wrote a complex equation up on the blackboard and sat down at his table. I started thinking how to resolve it, I wrote all the possibilities down on the blackboard and underlined the one that gave me the solution. In a couple of minutes, the professor stood up, examined my efforts and then, visibly surprised, announced, with his voice trailing: “Haaa, now that’s the spirit!” He asked me a couple of standard questions and finally declared: “10 points, this is excellent!”. He recorded my grade in my student grade book and saw I was enrolled in electrical engineering. He turned to me and said: “Abandon those carpenters of yours who measure their logs down to centimetre precision and come over to mathematics where we measure precision down to tenths of millimetres”.

So the professor was not really too sure about women’s slow-wittedness. He had invited even me (a woman!) over to mathematics. And he was also willing to change his opinion. However, I did not switch to pure mathematics, I stayed rigorously in electrical engineering. When I turned up, after careful preparations, to take two higher mathematics exams, the professor gave me grades 9 and 10. What has remained in me is my great respect for my very strict academic professor Rihard Zupančič. And the gratitude for his many study instructions that I could later use in my economics profession.

2. When did you start studying at the SEB LU and how did the study affect your career?

I completed 2 years of electrical engineering in 1941. When the war started, I abandoned my studies and joined the National Liberation Army, until the end of the fascist occupation of Slovenia in 1945. (I was given the “Spomenica 1941” recognition.) And I (accidentally) survived the war.

After the war, I was unable to proceed with my technical studies since we had a planned economy and there was supposedly no room in the technical area. So I switched over to the economics profession. I completed the first 2 years of economics studies in Petrograd and Moscow, and continued studying at the newly-established University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business. After I graduated, I joined the SEB LU’s academic staff.

For my doctoral degree in economics, I studied at European universities and libraries (Paris, Cambridge and Vienna). With a doctoral degree in my pocket, I taught Marx’s macroeconomic system at the SEB LU and then also the market mechanism theory to which non-Marxist economic theory applies. Besides my own book, I published about 70 expert and scientific dissertations in the area of Yugoslavia. (Entries in the Encyclopaedia of Slovenia, 1st and 2nd editions.)

3. Which area did you research for your doctoral thesis?

In my thesis, I extensively justified my logical resolution of the main problem of Marx's macroeconomic theory. This issue was subject to broad discussions held among several European economists, including Slovenian ones. When the doctoral committee (chaired by Prof. Miloš Samardžija) evaluated my thesis, it assessed: “This is the only possible resolution that can be justified through broad research.” And it published its finding. I wrote a detailed survey of my justifications (from the dissertation) and a conclusion about resolution of the problem (as an extended resumé over 22 pages). This survey was published in the Ekonomist journal from Belgrade in 1962. Czech economists were also interested in resolving the problem. The Czech Academy of Sciences in Prague printed (in a Czech translation) my 22-page survey in its compendium “Jugoslávská ekonomie v teorii a praxi” (1965) and sent me a copy. I loved working in the economic profession and at our Faculty, even if someone persistently placed obstacles in my way, or somebody tried to undermine me. But erba volant, scripta manent (spoken words fly away, written words remain).

Prepared by: Tina Drolc, MSc

University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business

Story: Dino Šterpin, MBA, Director of the Pension Insurance Sector of Skupna pokojninska družba d.d., Ljubljana

BRIEF PRESENTATION

  • Year of completion and field of study at the SEB LU: Undergraduate study – 2003; MBA – 2013
  • Your professional title/education: Bachelor of Science in Economics; MBA
  • Words you associate with the SEB LU: Work and entertainment
  • Favourite book: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell
  • Life motto: Tackle your problems as you go, and enjoy in the meantime!

Q&A INTERVIEW

1. Why did you decide to take up studies at the SEB LU and how have they affected your career?

I have always been interested in economics topics and, since economics was a popular field of study in the second half of the 1990s, I decided on the SEB LU. In terms of my professional career, the study has prepared me significantly for the challenges I face in my work.

2. You continued your studies at the SEB LU in the MBA programme. Why did you decide on this field of study and what have you gained from it?

The challenges in my work had become ever more complex and I thought I needed new knowledge and new skills. With the support of my employer, I decided to pursue my education so as to obtain an internationally recognised accreditation in a high-quality institution that operates in Slovenia. The decision for an MBA at the SEB LU was the most logical choice. The SEB LU MBA was high-quality boutique education for me, where everything functioned optimally. The most important thing is that I gained new knowledge which now helps me work more effectively and proficiently.

3. Which words have you heard at the SEB LU that stay in your memory, and who said them?

Prof. Mramor about the concept of average: "I have one hand in a fire, the other in some ice, but I am doing OK on average."

Prepared by: Tina Drolc, MSc

University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business

Story: Boštjan Zimšek

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  • Year of completion and field of study at the SEB LU: 2008, Finance
  • Words you associate with the SEB LU: The IS-LM curve and, most of all, early creation
  • Favourite book : Winnetou by Karl May

Q&A INTERVIEW

1. How did your studies at the SEB LU help you establish a career abroad and affect your future plans?

My studies at the SEB LU certainly had a strong influence on my decision to find a job and pursue a career abroad. Lectures on topical issues and problems in the economy, followed by in-depth discussion and analysis guided by excellent assistants help someone become well acquainted with this topic and encourage mutual co-operation. Such an approach, the nature of the study and the accessibility of the lecturers, mentors and assistants spurred my interest in developments outside of Slovenia’s borders and a desire to establish myself abroad. In my case, the decision was also prompted by my experience in the global procurement department at Danfoss Trata and by my graduation thesis on safety stocks.

In short, through discussions and research papers the SEB LU enabled me to acquire knowledge, develop skills, delve into topical global issues and economic models and thus establish myself in the international environment. We must believe in our knowledge, research our areas of interest, and build on our own experience. With such an approach, opportunities quickly arise and, if you want to go abroad, you should seize them.

2. Which words have you heard at the SEB LU that stay in your memory, and who said them?

I have a lot of memories of the SEB LU and many words and pieces of information come in quite handy even today. But what I certainly remember the most are the words of Prof. Dr. Maks Tajnikar during one of my earliest lectures in the first year, namely, that after we complete studying at the SEB LU we will no longer only see different products and prices when we take a walk along the Ljubljana marketplace, but we will see it from the perspective of demand and supply.

3. The SEB LU has celebrated a major anniversary, 70 years. How do you see the SEB LU at the time it will be marking its 80th anniversary?

Already at the time I was at the SEB LU the Faculty had invested considerable energy in establishing connections with universities and different international programmes outside Slovenia’s borders. The focus on and integration with international educational flows create a range of opportunities for international co-operation, the exchange of knowledge and recognisability of the institution. Maybe it is a mere coincidence, but anyway … a month ago a SEB LU colleague of mine mentioned that students in Hong Kong have the possibility, within the student exchange programme there, to study at the SEB LU in Ljubljana. This means the SEB LU’s recognisability has also spread beyond the borders of Europe and I have no doubt that in the next 10 years it will only continue to grow. Such things don’t happen overnight and are a result of several years’ good work, organisation and focus of the entire institution on what is good for the students – the entrepreneurs of today and tomorrow.

Prepared by: Tina Drolc, MSc

University of Ljubljana, School of Economics and Business

University of Ljubljana,
School of Economics and Business.
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