A short "Leap" from Scotland to Croatia
I’ve just returned from addressing the LEAP 2016 Zagreb Summit, an unforgeable, life affirming experience. LEAP is an annual event organized and run by local students and young entrepreneurs with the ambitious goal to encourage innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and creativity.
On the build up to the event I was well briefed by event mastermind Andrej Hanzir but I had underestimated the size and scale of the event which attracted over 1,400, 20 to 35 year olds (many running successful businesses) and, oh yes, I was the Key Note speaker on the final day.
Leap attracts primarily Croatian attendees but also a sizeable number of delegates from near neighbour’s of Poland, Italy, Slovenia, Austria, Turkey and also delegates from further afield. With event sponsors including IBM and Lenovo and P&G this was a high profile, well organised event with both local and international speakers.
My talk was more a plea to the attendees to use their skills to assist established and growing businesses to adapt as we travel through this period of incredible technology disruption in the global world of commerce. The talk was well received and the rest of my day was spent in over twenty 1-on-1 meetings with entrepreneurs and aspiring business leaders.
I would summarize my key lessons from the trip as
- Croatia is a hot bed of entrepreneurial activity amongst the younger generation working in an almost identical culture of collaboration to what I’ve witnessed in the UK, US and Asia. However, in Croatia there is a dearth of available mentors, coaches and role models which has driven initiatives such as "leap" to reach out to the international community for support. We should answer this call.
- With roots in the former Yugoslavia and a two-decade old birth from a bloody war young people in Croatia face challenges, not least 50% youth unemployment rates however they understand and face the challenge head on with a spirit that will undoubtedly deliver success
- Everybody and I mean everybody I met spoke perfect English and oozed enthusiasm and entrepreneurial enthusiasm.
- Education levels are exceptionally high and technology is prevalent and understood. Many UK cities would be envious of the availability of free public Wifi hotspots across Zagreb. I can well understand the drive for Zagreb as an technology outsource hub.
- At a time when we are concerned in the West with the low representation of women studying STEM subjects I would estimate that over half the delegates in Zagreb were female.