TOP Slovenia Interview: Maja Mikek

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Maja Mikek is a solid force of both business and heart. In her role as CFO, Maja is responsible for the financial operations of Celtra, a company that she co-founded in 2006 amidst the completion of her MBA at Babson College. She is the master of planning and managing the company’s financial resources while balancing bold investments with profitable year-end results. In addition to her role as CFO, Maja oversees the HR function at Celtra, where she is able to exercise her passion for employee development, and influence key policies and company-wide offerings that enable employees to work at their fullest potential. From helping the team discover and develop new talents to her
whole-hearted approach in building a company culture that she is proud to stand behind, Maja’s energy and determination to make a difference go unmatched. Outside of the office, Maja’s main focus is spending time with her husband and two children, creating new adventures through their love for the outdoors, and finding joy in the moments of gratitude that she gets to share with those around her.

WHAT ARE YOUR TOP THREE HIDDEN OR OFF-THEBEATEN- PATH DESTINATIONS IN SLOVENIA?

All are escapes into nature :). One of the most memorable escape for me is situated close to the place where I spent my childhood, named Komenda. The hill is called Šenturška Gora and most of the time I would hike it with my mom. We would talk our way up and run on our way down. It takes about 90 minutes for us to do the whole loop and I cannot think of a better morning meditation and physical training.

DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE SLOVENIAN WINE?

Yes, quite a few actually. A few years back my husband and I invited a dear couple to us to the Fat Duck – Heston Blumenthal‘s renowned temple to innovative Modern British cuisine. They only have a fixed food and wine menu, so nothing to really choose from, you entrust them that only the superb flavours, tastes will be placed in front of you. When it came to the main dish, they accompanied it with Slovene wine, Movia Veliko Rdeče. So that’s my winner 🙂

IF A VISITOR ONLY HAD ONE MEAL IN SLOVENIA, WHAT AND WHERE SHOULD IT BE?

Krištof Restaurant (Gostilna Krištof), especially during spring and summertime when you can sit outside. A must-eat is the famous „Arvaj‘s kranjska sausages with horseradish and mustard“… mmmm, I would like to some right now… The best way to eat is to ask what is fresh and local and trust their recommendations. They will pair dishes with some rare and exquisite Slovene wine. The restaurant is now run by two brothers and was passed down to them by their parents. They both live and breathe being hosts, chefs, and companions at the table… take advantage of that rare feature.

WHICH SLOVENIAN SOUVENIRS WOULD YOU RECOMMEND AS GIFTS TO FOREIGNERS?

This book 🙂 Lace cloth? Rogaška crystals? I am not big on souvenirs. Instead of spending time in souvenir shops go sit in a cafe next to Ljubljanica river, go to Čajnica Gallus, and watch the life happen on the streets in front of you. Can‘t be bought, can only be experienced, that‘s my kind of a souvenir 🙂

WHAT ANNUAL EVENT IN SLOVENIA SHOULD EVERYONE TRY TO VISIT AT LEAST ONCE?

The time around Christmas in Ljubljana is as special as it gets. But because I prefer summer to winter in the city, the summer festival Ljubljana puts together is something to have an eye on every year. From Indian conductor of Western classical music Zubin Mehta to Tomaž Pandur’s masterpieces that they have brought in the past, plus you get to experience the Križanke Outdoor Theatre… those are the moments life is worth living for 🙂

WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE SEASON IN SLOVENIA? WHY?

I love all 4 seasons… but SPRING will always be my favorite, namely the month of May.

• beautiful gentle meadows with spring grass and flowers are irresistible… one just happens reinvigorating oneself

• longer days with almost fluorescent green spring leaves on trees are so inviting for a late run in Tivoli Park or surrounding hill Rožnik

• cafes on the banks of Ljubljanica opening their patios, bringing their chairs and life outside

• nature is awakening and so are we, a new cycle, one new year to open. I love such beginnings….

HOW HAS SLOVENIA CHANGED IN THE PAST FIVE/TEN YEARS?

Our famous mayor Janković transformed Ljubljana! Yes, one man can change it all. If he was not at the helm, we would have not seen the change, the progress, the advanced approaches to waste management, clean air, cars being eliminated from the city centre, electrical public transport being implemented. With our capital city, Ljubljana, our country made the biggest progress and I am proud of Ljubljana and love coming back, writing glorious reviews to the mayor himself on what he has accomplished and how thankful I am.

WHAT FIVE WORDS BEST DESCRIBE SLOVENIA?

Green, fairy-tale, sunny, small, innovative.

WHAT‘S THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON LIFE HAS TAUGHT YOU?

That by doing good, little by little, consistently and wholeheartedly, in every little opportunity I can detect, I am making a difference. I am making a positive impact. Every little good action matters.

WHAT‘S YOU OWN PERSONAL MANTRA?

“You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.“ Jane Goodall.