Hana Medin, whose company Telluris-Medin farms snails near Zadar on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast and exports humus to Arabian countries, recently became a member of an elite business club in the United Arab Emirates.
She spoke to a Croatia Week journalist about the CROMA award saga, business and the great potential she sees in Croatia and its people.
A lot has been reported in the press about you being told you needed to pay 35,000 kuna (around 5,000 euros) in return for the Manager of the Year Award by the Croatian Managers and Entrepeneurs Association (CROMA), what exactly was the offer from CROMA?
CROMA certainly has the right to post their own rules, like any organization, company or individual. We all live by a personal model what we feel is right, fair and moral. CROMA sent me through a mail of a Program of cooperation in the implementation of the project, which they felt was logical because of the high level of the award, and the patronage of President Josipovic. In this program,they offered two packages of cooperation, one for the amount of 35, 000 kuna, which contains a personal biography in the official brochure of CROMA, a two-minute company promo video, sponsorship consulting, advertising space, 10 registration fee for the counseling, 10 invitations for their gala dinner and the public gratitude, while another marketing package of 50,000 kuna (around 7,000 euros) offered sponsorship consulting, advertising space too, shooting a promotional video, 20 invitations for the dinner, and public gratitude. Sure it was also pointed out that CROMA is a nonprofit organization, and that you have the possibility only to donate a sum of money which you think it is appropriate. My colleague and I asked directly the person in charge at CROMA, how much I have to pay if I invite my mother and grandmother to enjoy the moment with me…to be proud.., and give up the marketing part, and they responded to me that per person only for the formal part of the dinner and award night I would have to pay 2,500 kuna (330 euros). I told them I did not want to give any money.
What motivated you to turn it down?
First of all, I must say that I was so honoured to be selected as the Manager of the Year 2012, so happy, because I felt that this is was recognition for my hard work, and moral in business, and my vision, as well as my dream. In our society people are more discouraged than praised, though I am internationally respected. I guess we still have not moved too far from the Balkan way of thinking and acting. I considered this Programme of Cooperation, and I estimated that in today’s economic situation, the material cost for business recognition will be more benefit to my company and my employees, business prospects, and even sharing a Christmas bonus to people who are diligent and hard-working within my company.
My company is not a conventional one, this is not a cold and faceless company where I sacrifice people to achieve welfare of one man, prestige, exposure and self-praise. Telluris-Medin forms a family of people who are not related by blood, that are connected by heart, soul, compassion and dream and who sacrifice every day for the greater good, for their families, for what they believe in, for friends within the business circle, for an idea, faith. I was more than clear about high-level HUM CROMA awards which emphasizes exclusivity and proclamation, but a true manager needs to know and evaluate investment priorities.It is difficult to live in this land where people are almost starving, living in debt and loans, where we fight with the bureaucracy and administration, where company owners are destroyed by taxes of all types, and continuous inspection and the firm is the one who must handle whatever it comes on its way, to be competitive in the market, to be fair to employees, to protect the business, to create new jobs opportunities, to assess the risks, to have a sense of personal problems of its employees that are ones who create business opportunities, because we do not play with my existence alone, but for many families that are indirectly associated with the company. It’s easy to be a manager of a large corporation backed by the financial mechanism that can be reckless and spend for any marketing opportunity. In this way same people will always be part of that prestigious list, because other enterprising, intelligent, hard working and resourceful people simply will not be of interest because they are not financially competitive. Managers are those who care for their team and I’m just one woman inside Telluris-Medin, and as such, I’m alone, and my mission is to protect and to make the way responsibly. I need to act appropriately, ethically, for the benefit of my people.
Had you heard if previous winners paid the money?
I was not informed, and I didn’t ask because I didn’t expect this recognition. In my international experience, you don’t have to pay a cent for your success, you just have to work harder to verify the trust.
Bureaucracy and Corruption is percieved as a mayor problem in doing business in Croatia. What are your thoughts about a solution for Croatia’s problems in doing business there?
Individuals don’t determine the whole state. If we put ourselves in a position to generalise, there is a lot of bad information about other states in the world too. I think that Croatia is the land of intelligent, hardworking, and exceptional people, we just have to stop focusing on politics and start focusing on abilities of the human mind and hearts. I know lots of people who don’t know what is cheating, and that tells me that we still obey the laws of our religion and that we are a small but promised land.
How is your business going?
Some days great, some days bad, as any other business in this world. But I am happy because I work with honesty, and I love my choices. Above all, I work with people who I value above all.
Thanks for your time Hana, Croatia Week wishes you all the very in your endeavours.