Letter to Members by Martina Slabejová
Allow me a moment of personal reflection at the outset. I have completed
the first 11 months as the Executive Director of AmCham Slovakia. In
the past, my engagement with the organization was mainly as a member or a
representative of the government.
However, I must state that the intensity, motivation and enthusiasm of my colleagues, members of the Board of Directors and representatives of member organizations in our working groups sincerely surprised and immensely pleased me. The zeal for public affairs and the opportunity to discuss, influence, as well as solve important priorities of our time is remarkable. The range of our activities is extremely wide and includes topics that are key for the future of our country, Europe, and transatlantic relations. After dedicating 11 months to AmCham, I can confidently affirm that my work here provides me with a profound sense of purpose!
I would like to thank two very special people:
The first is Ronald Blaško, from whom I inherited a healthy, well-managed organization full of skilled, motivated people and smoothly operating activities. Ronald led the organization for five years, leaving behind a reservoir of energy and creative power. He supported me from the outset and helped me understand how to manage the work as effectively as possible. Thank you Ronald, I appreciate your help and support immensely.
The second person is Gabriel Galgóci, who served as President of AmCham Slovakia for almost 6 years. Gabriel represented a strong leader for AmCham, championing new initiatives such as The Business Service Center Forum, or AI Slovakia. He stood as a advocate for the team, helped us to overcome difficult situations in the discussions with various government cabinets. He was always there when we needed him, and the prospect of losing Gabriel in this institutional role is difficult for us to fathom. Thank you, Gabriel.
How would I evaluate the year 2023?
2023 was a year of change in every conceivable aspect.
We successfully expanded the AmCham community by incorporating 28 remarkable member companies, and involve them in collaborative efforts in the working committees such as Health, Digitization, ESG, Business Service Center Forum (BSCF), Rule of Law (RoL), Tax, Construction Task force, and others.
We changed and enriched our AmCham team with new faces and I am glad that we welcomed four new colleagues, including one in our Košice office. Additionally, our Board of Directors saw valuable additions of top supporters in the field of digital innovation, support for girls and women in ICT, and support for topics of inclusion, diversity, and financial acumen in society.
Since the government in Slovakia has changed three times during the year 2023, I will not mention all the meetings and pre-election discussions with government officials, madam president, election candidates and ministers. Instead, I’ll highlight a few memorable instances:
- On April 23, the RoL Initiative (comprising 17 employer associations, including AmCham) appealed to the president to stop the legislative storm of the government cabinet in parliament.
- During the spring of 2023, our Healthcare committee presented a list of activities in healthcare to seven shadow health ministers. Out of 10 traffic lights, 8 indicators were in the red. We must not forget that the state of affairs in health care reflects not only the last government but also previous administrations. We genuinely hope for positive changes at the ministry and stand ready to actively assist.
- In September 2023, we heard representatives of seven democratic parties unanimously declare the need to preserve the rule of law and not repeat the mistakes of the past - also in the area of submitting legislation in a shortened legislative period, without the necessary discussion and assessment of its impacts on the economy. Unfortunately, the current practice deviates significantly, and therefore, within the RoL initiative, together with other employer associations, we call for a discussion on this issue.
- In September 2023 we heard how important education is. In December the results of the latest PISA test highlighted not only the last three years but decades of neglect and underinvestment in the field of education. I would like to wish the new minister and the whole education department a lot of good energy and good decisions, and especially that we manage to move from words to deeds.
- In the year 2023, we launched an important initiative in eastern Slovakia: “Mapping the Potential of Eastern Slovakia”. Collaborating with 120 passionate individuals from the region and across the country we focused on assessing the region’s preparedness for 7000 new jobs (Volvo, Bosh, etc.). We analyzed the areas of education, health, manufacturing, infrastructure, the regional brand, and innovations. The results are intriguing; stay tuned for more updates. Lots of professional topics were discussed within our working groups, including the Construction Task Force, Tax Committee, Healthcare Committee, Digi Committee, Businesses Share Centres Forum, or the newly established ESG committee. Our aim is toprovide inspiration, as well as turn attention to the most pressing issues and new trends.
How do I see the year 2024?
I would be delighted if, in 2024, our society exhibits wisdom, honesty, kindness, success, and a commitment to supporting development and innovation. It should be resilient in facing the challenges in our own country, but also in our neighborhood in Ukraine, or in the Middle East. We cannot stand aside; it is integral to our future. May the year 2024 bring an end to war conflicts and bring abundance, growth, prosperity and new opportunities. Let each of us actively contribute to driving positive change.
Please accept our kind invitation and join us in celebrating AmCham Slovakia’s 30th Anniversary by attending the upcoming events during the entire year of 2024. The purpose is to build a community of experts, foster networking, share information, innovate and inspire, to have impact and visibility.
We look forward to delivering our vision, to make Slovakia a globally competitive country that can thrive in the fast-changing world of the 21st century, we look forward with optimism, confidence but respect!
You are very welcome to join us in the upcoming 2024 festival of activities, action, celebration and the future!
2023 KEY ACHIEVEMENTS
AmCham Slovakia welcomed 5000+ attendees to AmCham events that brought not only an unforgettable atmosphere but also valuable content, relevant information, working relations, and business & policy opportunities. Guests from 290+ member companies that create an impactful, strong, and inspirational chamber.
AmCham Slovakia organized 12 Pre-Election debates with representatives of democratic political parties on Rule of Law, Human Capital, Healthcare, Digitalization, Public Procurement, and Economic Stability and a remarkable Election Night event to emphasize AmCham´s vision for Slovakia as a good place to live and do business. The highly resilient BSC field united in AmCham´s Business Service Center Forum shows that despite external challenges the sector continues to grow in Slovakia. The Healthy Future Conference convened an extraordinary gathering of experts, analysts, key stakeholders, and political representatives. In close cooperation with our members and with their interests in mind we actively monitored and commented on the legislative process proposed by the Slovak Government as well as by the European Commission and the US.
AmCham Slovakia organized Business Breakfasts, comprehensive and extensive conferences, practical workshops, CEO meetings, inspirational Learning Circles, and business cocktails in Bratislava, Košice, and Žilina for AmCham Slovakia’s members to boost networking, inspiration, and business development among members and with external entities. AmCham Slovakia is part of the AmCham Europe Network and provides strong partnerships and advocacy on the European level as well.
AmCham Slovakia was present in major media outlets such as TA3, RTVS, JOJ24, SME, TREND, HN, NEXTECH, and PRAVDA and on social media targeting crucial business topics. The most visible media outreach was observed in April 2023, when the President of the Slovak Republic met the representatives of the Rule of Law Initiative to discuss the irregular legislative process in Slovakia and the way it had been affecting the business community. Other important topics such as health care, waste management, diversity, innovation, or regions caught the media’s attention too.
AmCham Slovakia, together with its members, prepared 40+ highly professional and contentful recommendations and solutions to increase the competitiveness of the Slovak economy in several key areas, including health care, education, labor market, digitalization and innovations, rule of law, and beneficial ownership transparency.
AmCham Slovakia kicked off new concepts and initiatives such as the ESG Committee with more than 40+ members; Košice's new policy project of mapping the potential of Eastern Slovakia with the impact on Eastern Slovakia investments; CEO Learning Circles; platforms that brought a new vibe and addressed new trends and the needs of our members in various areas such as HR (HR Learning Circles), topics related to Diversity and Inclusion, or BioTech and its relevance for the future of health.
AmCham Slovakia addressed very important legislation and economic topics through meetings with 140+ high public officials with three governments during 2023 to open and deal with important issues concerning the competitiveness of the Slovak economy and favorable business environment as well as related legislation. The relevancy and reputation of AmCham Slovakia open doors to ministries and government officials' offices not only in Slovakia but also on European and Transatlantic levels.