Values in Business at Core of Business Leaders Discussion

Would you stick to your values or trade them in for ‘the winning lottery ticket’? A big yes, stick to values, was the answer from all on the panel at last Thursday’s Bratislava Business Leaders Networking event at the Kempinski Hotel. They also all agreed that sticking to values (the right values) was not the norm for some Leaders in the current and recent business environment.

The panel consisting of Mrs Door Plantenga – MD of Heineken SK, Mr Peter Virsik – MD Adidas CEE and  Mr Andrej Kiska – founder of Dobry Anjel and Slovak presidential candidate, were discussing and answering questions posed by Mr Pepper de Callier on the topic of Leadership in the 21st century. The values question and the concept of Values Based Leadership was openly discussed with the panel each sharing personal stories of when they had been confronted with a business situation which challenged their values but all decided to stick to their own values even though at that time it might have been better for them to go with the corporate flow and to toe the line!

Mr Kiska mentioned his ‘highest value’, when looking to deal with someone, he asks himself the question –  ‘Is he a good man (woman)?’ . A concrete example to illustrate this point was; anyone can answer that questions in an interview in the correct way, but it is actually how someone actually behaviors in all situations that makes the man! Not the values they say that have! Not the attitudes they say they have! But what they actually do, how they actually behave.

Bratislava Business Leaders Networking Event - 14.03.2013 @ Kempinski Hotel Bratislava

Mr Kiska spoke about how the ‘Purpose of life is not to breath’ but we must do it just to exist (just as the purpose of business is not to make a profit, but it is still an important consideration as it helps us to fulfill a ‘Purpose’ for our Business e.g. to serve customers. I liked all of these concepts and was happy to read more about them in Mr Kiska’s book which I collected at the event. I recommend to read when you have time.

Another topic which was discussed was that of transparency and how technology is changing everything! Mrs Plantenga introduced a concept which I was aware of but used a great phrase to make the message concrete. She asked, are we BG orAG. That is ‘Before Google’ or ‘After Google’. Today knowledge is only one click away (for all with a PC and access). Knowledge is important but how you use the knowledge is what counts. Mrs Plantenga pushed the importance of experience not just knowledge.

Mr Virsik mentioned how a blog (open to all) set up by interns working at Amazon influenced the decisions of future inters. In this case negatively towards Amazon due to the company not living up to the promises they gave the interns in relation to the work challenges they would be given in their time as a inter.  Companies now are living under X-RAY and are more vulnerable!

As well as quoting leadership gurus such as Warren Dennis we had quotes from Gandhi to Gretsky and also TS Eliiot for good measure.  Mr de Callier has a huge knowledge of leadership gained through experience and is extremely well read. However what I particularly like is that when he does quote, the quotation is used to emphasis a specific, relevant point and help with our understanding of the topic being discussed and to drive home a message. And my favorite question from Pepper is normally a follow up question after a panelist has said something: “Can you give us an example of what you mean?” This keeps they message concrete for the audience and therefore more meaningful.

On the whole I thought it was a successful evening and well organised by Markus Klos and his colleagues from I gained new insights and ways of looking at things and of course was able to do some networking, whist enjoying the food at the Kempinski Hotel, so overall a good investment in my time and money.

By Trevor Smith


  1. Gordy – All valid comments but this is Slowvakia. Almost 30% work directly or indirectly for the state and their votes along with the pensioners’ are cheap to buy by the incumbent old guard politicians who still rule the roost here. Don’t be fooled by the “soft left” rhetoric of BnM and his pirates, they are all old school reds with unshakable Marxist beliefs. They talk the talk but actually do everthing possible to stiffle industry and business here whilst knitting even more state paid jobs. If you could get a group of SVK businessmen together you would be shocked by the outdated attitudes and ideas that many have whilst those with a more 21st Century approach will openly tell you about the unneccessary obstacles they face on a daily basis.
    Slovakia has great potential but the old guard know they only way they can stay in power is by creating a “nanny state” and full, centralised control of every aspect of society. The real shame is most SVKs don’t see this.

    1. Dave – without sounding rude, I know all these things,
      I come up against state corruption on pretty much a day to day basis. And I get really fed up having to have meetings in “secret” because they are scared someone is listening in. But it’s the same in all communistic countries.

      But I didn’t move over thinking it was any different. Just perplexed at just how crazy some of the procedures are, and clearly set up for abuse. But gotta fight dirty with dirty aye.

      Country needs outside intervention.

      1. Gordy, DC knows you know. But his comments are for a much wider, much thicker, more dimwit Ayran watching=reading crowd, like a guys called Smug and Cowpat, that chew the long grass on this wild west range .

  2. Movef from SE Asia to N Asia for my company.
    Living in SR permanent now and working on language skills and taking care of the land. A few years to relax from 2 decades of hard work in a 24/7 world. The pace of Asia is second to none^_^

  3. Gordy. I lived in Asia for 2 decades. I loved being
    an economic ho and it gave me a great quality of life and chance to save which would have never happened in the EU or N America. I’ve never lived in UK and no desire. The low wages and overkill of paperwork make Slovakia frustrating. I’m happy to have options but I see Slovakia as a tourist and citizen and they are very different. I like the good life and I was hoping for that slight chance for change and opportunity in SR. Tall order…

    1. Where in Asia were you ? I have traded in Asia for about 9 years now and although would never stay there it is “fun” compared to Europe and N.America.
      Probably best not to go to the UK, the weather is pretty poor, and unless you are in London then no great opportunities. Manchester is starting to make some good progress though.

      What are you doing work wise in SR ?

  4. I just love when industry leaders talk about `values` .

    That is the utter fluff they love to add when pretending to be `Green` , `Customer friendly ` and claim the local community are `stake holders` in any project . The fact is there only idea of `value` is to increase shareholders values .

    What `value` did Union Carbine, Shell, BP , Chevron and the entire financial community to name but a few, put on either poisoning the earth, the sea, the rivers or the life savings of ordinary people?

  5. Slovakia has potential but bureaucratic issues keep it from taking steps forward.
    This article seems dodgy. I agree with first comment. Time for action for jobs and new enterprise
    to make Slovaks active. The world shall pass you by if your not in the game. I question this poll as it sounds like stuffed pockets speaking.

    1. Matteo,

      Guessing your Slovakian right ?

      If you read any of my other comments on other postings from website I basically take the piss out of your country. But actually I have several good Slovakian friends. It is your Government that is keeping you suppressed and lagging behind true capitalist countries which means it is too easy to brand you all under the same heading.
      I would absolutely love to get a bunch of english speaking intelligent Slovaks together to discuss how to promote entrepreneurship, enterprise, real jobs, investment. If you want to be heard you need to utilise media both in Slovakia but more so in the rest of Europe to demonstrate exactly how corruption flourishes and how it can be dramatically reduced. With its central location, Slovakia should be doing much much better than it is.

      1. Well I am sure all Slovak people are dancing in the street and celebrating knowing they have not one, but two expert financial whizz kids from England as saviour spirits now.Or is Walter Mitty up to his old tricks again?What I don’t understand is why you left England when the economy there is in such bad shape. Slovakia is one of the very few countries to actually have economic growth so it’spossible of course you are here surreptiously to glean know how for your beleagured.chancellor of the exchequer, George Osborne. .

        1. Smug, take just one 100gm Blue pill, not two. The raging hard you have on, will go away after a few hours and save us all from your current frustration.

        2. Alec, I am not from England. And I do believe I have quite a few credentials to my name that probably makes me suitable to lecture on how to do business internationally.

          No matter how many insults you throw at the UK politcians they are no where near as bad as the bunch here and in Czech, and our politicans are pretty poor as it stands.

  6. I would love to know who set the precedent for the line of questioning. Sounds all extremely left wing to me, whereas business should be at least centre right. Do you think the rising Asian powerhouses are talking about values ? Maybe Indonesia placing Airbus’ largest ever order should be a wake up call rather than being celebrated.
    Young unemployed people throughout Europe only care about having a job and some money in their pocket including Slowvakia. Scrap the left wing sentiment which is big government and get a South Korean/Singapore business style model in place. If you don’t know what that looks like then jump on a plane and find out.

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