Throughout your journey, you have been recognized as an inspiring leader. What according to you makes you an inspiring leader?
We live in a time when everything is somehow changing. The way forward seems uncertain and there are more and more people among us who have found themselves on the edge. Now is the time for each of us to contribute with a touch of knowledge, experience and inner strength. And perhaps the answer to your question is that in these challenging times, I am not sitting idly by waiting for solutions to be offered by someone else, rather I restructured the Global Chamber of Business Leaders. GCBL brings together the best global leaders at its core, and seeks and offers solutions to overcome health, social and economic crisis, which in many fields has already grown into a strong crisis of values.
Being the CEO of KSBC, what role do you play in the day-to-day proceedings of the company?
I have been running the KSBC business club since its establishment in 2013, and I am also its Founder. Currently, KSBC is preparing for the opening of countries, state borders, and intercontinental flights so that we can continue the work that almost stopped with the outbreak of the pandemic. The latter, of course, means that I currently have fewer commitments around KSBC and can therefore devote myself more towards running the Global Chamber of Business Leaders, as well as other obligations.
How have you helped establish a firm business relationship between Europe and Kazakhstan?
We did a lot of things for the first time and probably differently from past practices, which made all the difference from the existing one and shot KSBC out of the average. As I have done in the past, I must praise the openness of our friends in Kazakhstan, all the help from the government and its institutions, the generous help of the Kazakh ambassador Kairat Sarybay, partly also the bureaucracy in Slovenia, where KSBC is based, and last but not least the passion of all my dedicated colleagues in KSBC.
What has the journey been like for Dejan Stancer over the years?
Mostly hard and difficult, but I did not feel this weight in particular, because in life I am always guided by the desire to achieve set goals. Anyone who knows me knows that I work 20 hours a day, because when I am in the work process, it is very difficult for me to stop and calm down. However, from time to time my body reminds me of the importance to rest, and then I usually ‘switch off’ for a day. But never for two days!
Looking back, what would you have done different when starting out?
A difficult question, because today, after many experiences, I look at the past completely differently than I did before and as I look at the future today. But if I somehow logically rethink and articulate the experiences I have already gained, anything I would have done differently in the past would take me away from the path I walk today. As a pragmatist, I would answer that I would do many things differently, but as a practitioner, I actually know that I would do almost everything exactly as I have done it in the past.
How has the business landscape changed following the emergence of COVID-19?
Outwardly, it may not seem that much, but in reality, the changes are huge. The instruction to maintain physical distance, connected people differently than they could have ever imagined. People connected virtually, made new friendships, organized virtual events; in short, everything moved to another sphere.
How this new virtual reality will work in the future, when the pandemic is over, no one dares to predict yet. Of course, I don’t think there is anything wrong with that, if we know how to find the right relationship between the virtual and the real future. One thing is clear today – many things in the future will be completely different from what we have been used to thus far.
What would be your advice for aspiring leaders and entrepreneurs during this unpredictable time?
I myself have always said that many small and medium-sized enterprises can only be saved by internationalization. It is clear that globalization is a process where now that we are somewhere in the middle, nothing can stop it. Those business leaders who are more globally connected will prosper more, and that is a fact. The more the effects of globalization, such as acquisitions and the constant growth of multinational enterprises, intensify, the more and longer, and above all, solidly, those other companies in which business leaders will understand the processes of globalization will grow. My advice would be, to be open-minded for the new, be flexible and responsive in these changing times, and of course, be connected and look for opportunities even where you felt they didn’t exist yesterday. The world is changing rapidly.
What is the overall vision of GCBL? Since being appointed as the Chairman what measures have you taken in taking GCBL forward?
The Global Chamber of Business Leaders is a stable organization with a remarkable growth trend. Development is even above all expectations, but I must admit that above all expectations is also the interest of business leaders from around the world to get involved in GCBL structures. And it is our delegates and members of the board of advisors, delegates from various programs, as well as members who are at the core of this remarkable and surprising growth. Each of them works great, addresses the business and interested public, addresses current issues and offers solutions. In short, if anything, I am really proud of my colleagues; from the first person to the last. However, I must especially commend Larisa B. Miller, the Executive Director of GCBL.
And when you ask me about the measures, immediately after I took office last February, we moved the GCBL headquarters to US territory, digitized our business and introduced new standards that give great results, started appointing delegates around the world, and also appointed them in more than 45 countries around the world, set up a Board of Advisors, in which we appointed outstanding experts from various fields, including a few well-known names. In any case, I am extremely proud to have set up a special program for young business leaders run by the Executive Director, NNamdi Egbuaba. In just three months of operation, the Young Business Leaders program has over 40 outstanding young delegates from all over the world, and the interest in joining the program is huge.
What has been the biggest roadblock during your journey? What has been your biggest learning?
If you ask me on the way to running GCBL and KSBC there were a lot of obstacles. But rather than counting the obstacles I had to deal with, I count the experiences I gained from doing so. You know, without obstacles, there would be no experience. Definitely running two such demanding organizations as GCBL and KSBC is not easy, as I mentioned, I also work 20 hours a day. But I’m happy to have the daily opportunity to be connected to all corners of the world, to be connected to people I might otherwise never have had the opportunity to meet, while still learning new things. Believe me, it’s an invaluable experience.
Moving forward, what does the future look like for KSBC? Personally, where do you see yourself standing in the coming years?
I am not afraid for any of the organizations I lead. Both are in excellent condition and there are also plans for the end of the pandemic and beyond. Personally, at least for the short term, I don’t make new plans. For now, I’m sticking to plans that are tied to continuing what I’m already doing. Of course not forever. I would be a very bad leader if I did not think about the need to transfer experience and knowledge to younger, future quality business leaders. One day it will be necessary to choose one of them and put in his hands what is created.
Finally, what do you think is the most important trait for a leader and why?
In the current situation, I would say that a good leader is someone who knows how to motivate colleagues in these times, encourage them and thus support them. The pandemic has brought a lot of bad things that many people find difficult to deal with and need support. Of course, in the first place among the qualities of a good leader is passion. Or as Warren Buffett, whom I have great respect for, said: Without passion, you don’t have energy. Without energy, you don’t have anything.