TOP Slovenia Interview: SONJA ŠMUC

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sonja smuc

General Manager at Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia

Slovenian management and leadership to encourage competitiveness of Slovenian businesses. Among other business topics she has specialised in women’s leadership. She is a member of different professional bodies and award boards. In 2006 the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia co-awarded her with bronze award for innovation in publishing. She is also a co-author of a book on managing export risks.

Before joining MAS she was Editor-in-Chief of the magazine Manager, specialising in leadership and management. She is the author of more than 700 business related articles. She has a Master’s Degree from the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana; she deepened her knowledge at Stanford University of California, Vienna’s Wirtschaftsuniversität and IEDC – Business School of Bled.


Sonja Šmuc

Sonja Šmuc interview

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE HIDDEN OR OFF-THE-BEATEN-PATH DESTINATIONS IN SLOVENIA?
Slovenia has a great many wonderful places, which are hidden and off-the-beaten-path where one can relax and enjoy nature. If I had to pick my top three outdoor locations, I‘d say the walking path along the Sava river near my home, hiking at Šmarna Gora or biking at Parenzana biketrack from Koper to the Slovene-Croatian border-crossing. The beauty of Slovenia is that there are so many more such places and it is not difficult to find a breath-taking hidden spot where you can be at peace and enjoy the nature.

WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE DRINK?
Ljubljana’s tap water. Overall, Slovenia has one of the best quality drinking waters in Europe.

IF A VISITOR ONLY HAD ONE MEAL IN SLOVENIA, WHAT AND WHERE SHOULD IT BE?
In mountain huts you can never go wrong with traditional dishes like štruklji or ričet (barley porridge boiled with beans). Fridays in Ljubljana, and some other towns, “Open kitchen” is a great place to go.

WHICH SLOVENIAN SOUVENIRS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND AS GIFTS TO FOREIGNERS?
Depends on how much you can carry. An unusual gift is salt – salt and salt-related products from Piranske soline. They are a touch of history since the Piran Salt Pans are among those rare ones where salt is still produced using centuries-old processes, involving entirely natural crystallisation. Of course, you can never go wrong with a bottle of fantastic Slovenian wine or a glass of honey from our own autochthonous honey bee. We appreciate bees so much that the United Nations proclaimed the World Bee Day at the proposal of Slovenia. A beautiful gift are also pieces of jewelry made of traditional lace as well as glass and wooden products from distinguished Slovenian designers.

WHAT ANNUAL EVENT IN SLOVENIA SHOULD EVERYONE TRY TO VISIT AT LEAST ONCE?
There are so many great festivals of music, wine, film, poetry, theatre, kids celebrations … It is just impossible to name one. But, one event that makes me smile every year is in early December when town centres are alighted festively. Ljubljana is absolutely magical and like a fairy tale.

THAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE SEASON IN SLOVENIA? WHY?
My favourite season is spring when all of nature is awakening. The sun makes people happier.

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TOP Richest Slovenes

WHAT MAKES SLOVENIA A GREAT PLACE TO LIVE AND WORK?
Quality of life here is second to none. In a single day one can go skiing on high Alpine slopes and swim in the Adriatic Sea. It’s not just a saying, I know people that actually do that. Also strong family and social links make Slovenia a great place to live your life.

HOW DO YOU LIKE TO SPEND YOUR FREE TIME?
Goofing around with my family is an absolute No. 1, followed by deep debates with friends, reading, watching movies and wandering around. If only my husband would dance that would be high on my list as well.

HOW HAS SLOVENIA CHANGED IN THE PAST FIVE/TEN YEARS?
Slovenia has become even more cosmopolitan. Not only because our cities are full of tourists exploring our country, visiting spas and sport resorts, tasting our delicious food, but mostly because our economy is more and more engulfed in international economic streams, value chains, our products are well-known all around the world. In the last ten years we doubled our exports.

WHAT WORDS BEST DESCRIBE SLOVENIA?
Green. Active. Healthy. Solidarity.

WHAT DOES AN AVERAGE DAY ENTAIL FOR YOU AS GENERAL MANAGER OF CHAMBER OF COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY OF SLOVENIA?
An average day as the CCIS General Manager incorporates a mix of everything. It is a very dynamic job, entailing meetings with lots of interesting people from Slovenia and abroad, helping in solving big and small problems identified in the economy. The most rewarding and inspiring are the moments when we are co-creating the future of our country.

DO YOU FEEL THAT THERE IS PRESSURE ON WOMEN TO JUGGLE WORK AND MOTHERHOOD?
Of course. However, it is not just an issue for women but also for men. It is about coping and juggling work and parenthood. Slovenia has a lot to offer in this field: we have a widely spread and well-organised network of nurseries, afternoon activities in schools for children, one year parental leave etc. As soon as it becomes clear that both mothers and fathers have the same rights and responsibilities as parents, finding work and life balance will be a normal part of life. And, such questions will not be answered only by women.

Source: THE Slovenia Book