You joined PwC Slovakia in 2000. Is it possible to compare the business environment in Slovakia 19 years ago and today?
Slovakia has successfully joined many international ‘clubs’ since 2000 such as the OECD, EU, Eurozone and Shengen. This means that Slovakia now has aligned much of its business practice with the rest of the western world with which it mostly trades. This makes it easier for Slovak companies to trade abroad and for foreign companies investing in Slovakia.
I have noticed that Slovakia has a growing pool of young talented leaders who have international experience and who understand the need for good corporate governance.
What are the most pressing problems and challenges facing the business environment today?
The lack of trust in political leaders and the rule of law are fundamental problems that Slovakia still faces. While we desperately need education reform to ensure our young people have positive future career prospects, we also need to ensure that the younger generation can see potential for a better future in Slovakia, otherwise large numbers will continue to leave and work in other countries. This hope for a better future is very much linked to having trust that their political leaders are taking the country forward and are governing in the best interests of the country rather than for their own personal gain.
From your personal experience with AmCham, how has it evolved over the past decade and in which ways does it try to reflect the current challenges of the business environment?
AmCham has gained the respect of both the private and public sectors over the last decade and has become the voice of reason on many critical challenges facing Slovakia. In that process AmCham has more clearly defined its role and has become more confident to speak out on critical issues facing the country. For example, the need for a trustworthy transparent court system, fairness in the legislative process and the need for intolerance towards corruption are key areas that AmCham has clearly set out in its joint Rule of Law initiative. Improvement in these areas is critical for both the business community and Slovak citizens.
During your long active involvement with AmCham, which projects or initiatives have you found the most meaningful and impactful?
In addition to the Rule of Law initiative mentioned above, AmCham’s focus on the need for education reform and addressing the skills shortage have been critically important to the Slovak business community. This journey has only started, but AmCham has a key role to play as the voice of business and engaging the public sector. We have also consistently engaged with senior members of the government on key business, tax and labor law problems facing industry and the necessity to attract and maintain foreign direct investment.
What role should AmCham aspire to fulfill in today’s fast-changing world in the years to come and where would you personally like to see it in five years?
I see AmCham as an apolitical organization that plays an important role in making Slovakia a better place to do business and a better place to live. I see AmCham leading the debate for positive change in Slovakia to achieve these aims and proactively bringing together the various critical stakeholders.
My hope for Slovakia is to see a new young generation of political and business leaders who have altruistic motives and truly act in the best interest of the country.
After serving on AmCham’s Board of Directors since 2010, and fulfilling the role of AmCham’s President since February 2016, Todd Bradshaw has decided resign his post to pursue other projects and spend more time with his family. On behalf of AmCham staff and members we would like to express our deepest thanks for his dedicated service and contribution to AmCham’s development. THANK YOU
Todd Bradshaw, Former President of AmCham Slovakia; Managing Partner, PwC Central & Eastern Europe