Danijela Čabarkapa, Executive Director Of The Japanese Business Alliance In Serbia:

Embracing Opportunity

“I truly believe that we should embrace the opportunities and let them build us up by developing our way forward,” says Danijela Čabarkapa, executive director of the Japanese Business Alliance in Serbia

Hard work, persistence and a willingness to learn and be personally challenged always pay off. Have I ever planned for or imagined my professional path developing in this way? To be quite honest, not at all.

After completing grammar school, eager to embrace a wide choice of opportunities and ample flexibility, I started my studies at the Faculty of Economics in Belgrade, where I earned an MA in the field of international economy – international finance. Even though the idea was for finance to be the predominant factor, the international aspect turned out to be crucial.

Finalising my studies during the period when the country was waking up after the ‘90s, I discovered a pool of opportunities related to knowledge and work experience enhancement, and decided to leave my first job as a financial analyst after gaining an internship in Germany as a scholar of the Zoran Ðinđić Internship Programme of German Business, i.e. the German Government. I completed my internship at the German Investment and Development Company (DEG), which marked the beginning of my professional development in the field of international consultancy, and that continued to develop through my work at the Serbian Investment and Export Promotion Agency (SIEPA) and the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Serbia (CCIS). Through my work as a FDI (Foreign Direct Investment) advisor, and later as head of SIEPA’s Investment and Export Promotion Department, I came into contact with Japanese business culture for the first time. I had the opportunity to cooperate with Japanese institutions and Japanese experts in the field of investment promotion, as well as in the field of SME development support, which I continued as deputy director of the International Economic Relations Sector at the CCIS.

In the period when the country was waking up after the ‘90s, I discovered a pool of opportunities related to knowledge and enhancing work experience

My most important experience in bringing Japanese business and life philosophy closer came in the form of a six-week training opportunity in Japan, which I was offered by the Government of Japan through JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) in 2012. The training was an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Japanese economy, the Japanese business approach and culture, and that contributed greatly to improving my understanding of doing business with Japan, which I was able to incorporate into my everyday work and cooperation with Japan-related stakeholders and which I will continue to implement in my current role.

This is how it all led to my appointment as executive director of the Japanese Business Alliance in Serbia (JBAS) as of 1st September 2017, and a new page was turned in my professional challenges.

JBAS was founded in March 2017 as an initiative of Japanese companies present in Serbia, based on the growing presence and interest among Japan-related business circles in doing business in Serbia. The initiative is supported strongly by the Embassy of Japan and our mutual goal is to improve collaboration between Japan and Serbia, primarily by developing economic relations and advancing the visibility of Japanese business culture in the country, which will contribute significantly towards building stronger relations between the two countries.

The initial setup phase has been completed and in the following period the official start of JBAS’s work will be marked, together with the Embassy of Japan. We are excited to further strengthen the presence of the Japanese business society in Serbia.

To conclude, I truly believe that we should embrace the opportunities and let them build us by developing our way forward.