Croatia Trade Mission Recap Pt. 2

By the veza team 🙂

For more on what a trade mission is and why we went to Croatia, check out Croatia Trade Mission Recap Part 1.

Manpreet went ahead of the team to Croatia in November to have some final meetings before the delegation joined in. This was her second trip to Croatia to set the foundation for what was to happen over the next few days. There were many learnings from Manpreet’s first trip in February 2018 about the culture and the way to do business in Croatia that provided context for the trade mission. One of the important aspects of any international trip is to have an open mind and know that even though we live in a global economy, there are strong elements of culture that influence people and places.  

Ultimately, relationships are the most important part of business. People do business with people they trust and want to engage with. It is important to spend time nurturing the relationships with individuals in any country that you intend to do work in and keeping that engagement over the long-term.

Walk us through the trip… What did you do over there?

The delegates arrived on Monday to have time to explore, get settled in and move through their jet lag. On Tuesday evening, we held the first formal group activity – a dinner with authentic Croatian food and the knowledge of Kristina Anicic of Doma Travel to explain Croatian culture to the group.

Wednesday: We held the first workshop planned in partnership with Krug (the Croatian Association of Business Women), Canadian Croatian Business Network and veza. Croatian and Canadian women entrepreneurs came together to learn from one another, engage in business to business meetings and hopefully, meet someone with whom they could  do business or develop a relationship.

As with any cultural exchange, there was a diversity of thought based on the backgrounds and experiences from both the Canadian and Croatian delegates. The commonality was that the women all wanted to grow their impact, make more money for their families and loved ones, and find ways to globalize their business.

Thursday: In the morning, the Canadian delegates enjoyed a leadership development session. The Deloitte Business Chemistry workshop held by delegate, Roberta Nouari sparked interesting discussions on working styles and how easily intention and behaviour can be misunderstood in a business setting. Because of the intercultural exchange held the day before, the workshop gave insight into how we can unconsciously filter behaviour through our personality and cultural lenses.

That afternoon, Manpreet had the opportunity to present about women in leadership to SheXO at Deloitte Croatia. It was a great opportunity to engage in discussion around the similarities and differences between the two countries. Currently, women represent 30% and 47% of entrepreneurs in the EU and Canada, respectively (GEDI) and women held board seats are between 17-20% for both countries. The pay gap data in Croatia shows that women make 88.7% of the wage of men in that country, while Canadian women make 68 cents to each dollar earned by their male counterparts (StatsCan, European Project). The challenges women face daily are similar and include having a voice at the table, mansplaining, imposter syndrome, lack of role models and mentors, the pay gap, challenges after coming back to the workplace after having a child.

We will write more on these topics in future blogs.

The delegates had the pleasure of attending a Croatia-Spain Football (soccer) match. What a fun night with the festivities, live music, and the celebration, as Croatia won a nail-biting match.

Friday: We traveled to Opatija (which is a beautiful place many of the delegates are ready to go back to), to take part of the PAR University’s conference, Women with No Excuses: The Engine of Family Business. The conference was entirely in Croatian with Manpreet as the only presenter speaking in English. It was an eye-opening experience and represented a reminder as to how much gets lost in translation and in words. The translator who sat with our team provided summaries of the discussion, which left out the nuances that we sometimes we need to understand to prevent judgement. We all left with a new appreciation for the value of language and value of understanding the language of the country you are traveling to, so you can catch those nuances.

The discussions after the conference were hugely beneficial as they sparked engagement and were where relationship building happened. It was here, in the hallways of PAR University, where future opportunities to work with Croatian business women came about.

One of the best parts of the trip was the sisterhood that was created amongst the delegates where there was honesty, authenticity, laughter, joking and most of all, a sense of acceptance and belonging.

The “trip” summary doesn’t do the learnings justice as there was a depth of experiences that cannot be translated. As we continue to integrate our learnings, we will continue to share them. So stay tuned!