We Must Pursue Our Objectives Collectively
On Tuesday, December 6, we met with ASEF Fellows for the December ASEF Story, a series of conversations with highly successful Slovenians. This time, we spoke to Blaž Brodnjak, President of the Management Board at NLB Group.
Mr. Brodnjak has vast experience in banking. Before he took over as CEO, he was a member of the Management Board and Deputy President of the Management Board at NLB for several years. He also served as a Management Board Commissioner of Triglav Insurance Company for a year and for two years as Head of the Corporate and Public Sector Division at Hypo Alpe-Adria Group. He was also a member of the Management Board of BAWAG for four years. In addition to his regular duties, he is chairman or member of many supervisory boards, a member of the Presidency of the Slovenian Handball Federation, a member of the Board of Cedevita Olimpija, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of the Association of Banks of Slovenia and President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovenia. This year, he was awarded the most prestigious managerial award in Slovenia, Manager of the Year, by the Board of Directors of the Manager Association.
In a conversation with ASEF Fellows, he presented his career beginnings. Already during his high school years, he decided to study economics as he was attracted to finance in general. He has managed corporate operations in various banks. In addition to his experience, he also showed the scholars how important the environment you work in is and the team that you have to trust.
We also talked about the challenges of being a CEO. According to Mr. Brodnjak, it is crucial to return to “hygiene of the craft”. Each industry has its own business model with its own principles that need to be respected for the industry to function. NLB has decided to go back to basics, i.e. active borrowing and lending. Direct contact with customers is also important so that the bank gets a real perspective on how the business operates.
With Mr. Brodnjak, we touched upon another important topic in modern society, namely sustainable development. NLB is the only bank in the region to have joined the Net-Zero Banking Alliance. In their business, they promote the financing of energy-efficient projects, production based on renewable sources, and the development of hydrogen technologies. Our speaker’s view is that the global sustainability agenda requires competition, but also cooperation to achieve common goals.
He also described the housing problem in Slovenia and believes that both short-term and long-term solutions are needed to ensure a comprehensive approach to tackling this problem. Finally, he also spoke about the advantages of NLB in the region, as the bank is present in almost all countries of the region, with the exception of Croatia. Mr. Brodnjak believes that they make a difference in the Balkans, as they know the environment well and are able to grow quickly and safely with relatively basic solutions.
The conversation was moderated by Tadej Krivec, 2021 ASEF Junior Fellow.
The ASEF Story project is supported by the Office for Youth of the Republic of Slovenia and the Office for Slovenians Abroad and Worldwide.