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Ksenija Purković, President of the Nordic Business Alliance

Dialogue is Crucial In Hard Times

We believe that good policies come as a result of permanent dialogue and trust between the public and private sectors. That is especially so now – when the global pandemic is changing the way we work and live. Our cooperation, trust and dialogue are essential

Nowadays, when the world is witnessing a viral outbreak that’s unprecedented in the modern history of the world, the Nordic Business Alliance is contributing actively to the continuing efforts of the Government and ad-hoc bodies aimed at helping Serbian society cope with the consequences of the COVID-19 crisis. Although it is obvious that the association’s initial plans developed for 2020 will go through some changes in scheduling, the major topics that the Alliance is working on won’t be changed, says Nordic Business Alliance President Ksenija Purković.

Nordic countries and companies cooperate very well and often act together. How are these principles applied when it comes to the Nordic engagement in Serbia?

Ksenija Purković Nordic Business Alliance

– Members of the Nordic Business Alliance in Serbia gather around the core Nordic principles, such as transparency, cooperation, innovation and corporate social responsibility, regardless of their country of origin. 

Our members are Nordic, but also other international and local companies gathered around those core values. In practical terms, we strive to maintain the good dialogue already established with the Government on topics such as the environment, digital technologies, innovation and tourism.

We believe that good policies come as a result of permanent dialogue and trust between the public and private sectors. Especially now – when the global pandemic is changing the way we work and live – our cooperation, trust and dialogue are essential. Luckily, we can work and communicate digitally, which will hopefully minimise the impact of the pandemic outbreak.

If we take the example of the Nordic Days event, how do you decide which topics are important to be pursued? Which of them are in your focus in 2020?

– Our goals for 2020 are a result of deep internal consultations among members. Taking into account the interests and structure of our members, we have decided to launch several working groups. Those groups will promote good practices in the areas and interests of our members.

Members of the NBA in Serbia gather around core Nordic principles – transparency, cooperation, innovation and corporate social responsibility

The Nordic Business Alliance in Serbia has established several working groups in this regard: the Task Force for Environmental Protection, Waste and Renewable Energy; the Task Force for ICT – Information and Communication Technologies; the Task Force for Healthcare and Public Health. Of course, we are fully aware that the COVID-19 pandemic will impact on our work in 2020 and that we will most likely have to recalibrate our activities for this year. Nevertheless, our mission and strategic goals will remain the same.

Considering that Nordic countries are among the most advanced, both in terms of innovation and, for example, in education, how do you relay acquired knowledge and knowhow with your Serbian counterparts? One example of the use of digitalisation and innovation for good is related to healthcare in Nordic countries. Which of those solutions can be applied in Serbia?

– New technologies and innovation are things for which Nordic countries are famous. 

Ksenija Purković Nordic Business Alliance

Innovation is spread over practically all parts of society – business, public services, transport, tourism, environmental protection and, of course, healthcare. 

We had several opportunities during 2019 to communicate good practices and the benefits of innovation to institutions – sometimes via more private platforms organised by the embassies of Nordic countries in Serbia, but also via conferences like the one entitled Innovation and Digitalisation in the Serbian Healthcare Sector, which was held at the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia in November last year.

This conference was supported by the Ministry of Health of the Republic of Serbia, and we had a fruitful debate on the integration of both digital technologies and innovation into the Serbian healthcare sector. I also have to note that last year was relatively good for innovative pharmaceutical companies in Serbia, as more innovative medications found a route to patients thanks to the decision of the National Health Insurance Fund of Serbia, and we also salute the efforts of the state to embrace more innovative medications in the upcoming period.

How does this impact on the work of pharmaceutical companies when it comes to bringing new solutions to the Serbian market? How would you assess the level of cooperation with the Serbian government vis-à-vis these initiatives?

– As previously pointed out, we see more progress in cooperation and dialogue in general. Within the NBA we have three innovative pharmaceutical companies and have been maintaining a constant dialogue with institutions, both individually and collectively, throughout the year. We are aware that introducing innovative medications requires additional funds. Nevertheless, we believe that the wellbeing of patients and benefits to society outweigh the financial pressure in this case.

Although the Covid-19 pandemic will impact on our work in 2020, our mission and strategic goals will remain the same, and they are related to environmental protection, ICT and healthcare

The dialogue also ensures that we are listening to the needs of institutions and the community, and we are trying to respond adequately when possible. We are nowadays witnessing a viral outbreak that’s unprecedented in the modern history of the world, and we know that in such difficult times we need to be there for society. During these days we are consulting actively with the Government and ad-hoc bodies to help in coping with the medical consequences of the crisis.

As a female who chairs a major business alliance, how often do you see businesswomen occupying leading positions in Serbia? How do we fare compared with the level of equality in Nordic companies?

– It is a pleasure to be at the helm of the NBA. I am also happy to tell you that, even in our board of governors, ladies usually represent the majority in meetings. Female empowerment is essential for the NBA, but even beyond that I believe that women still need to be more empowered to take on leading roles in society.

Last year was relatively good for innovative pharmaceutical companies in Serbia, and we also salute the efforts of the state to embrace more innovative medications in the upcoming period

Although there are successful women in the Serbian corporate world, we can do better. According to the EU Gender-Equality Index, Scandinavian countries top the list when it comes to gender equality in general. Serbia, on the other hand, is doing better than some EU member states, which means it isn’t that bad. According to some information I came across recently, females hold around 30 per cent of all managerial positions in Serbia. We can certainly do better than that!

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