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Croatian diaspora spotlight: Q&A with Ivo Nuić

Ivo Nuić

The size of the Croatian community outside of Croatia is only approximate because of incomplete statistical records and naturalization, but the highest estimates suggest that the Croatian diaspora numbers between a third and a half of the total number of Croats.

In this series, we speak with various members of the diaspora who represent all facets of the international professional community, such as scientists, doctors, engineers, attorneys, artists, business executives, athletes, etc.

Q&A with Ivo Nuić

Title: Managing Director, Dhahran Technology Center
Company: Baker Hughes GE
Education: BSc Petroleum Engineering, RGN faculty, Zagreb University & MBA, Herriot Watt University, UK

Tell us about your family and Croatian ancestry.

I was born in Metkovic, Croatia, where I spent the first 18 years of my life and then moved with my family to Zagreb. My family roots are from Hercegovina, my father is from Drinovci and mother from Siroki Brijeg.

Despite of my international life since ‘95, our true home will always be Milna, on the island of Brac, Croatia, where my wife comes from.

Interestingly, I was investigating the origin of my last name and found that the first Nuic mentioned in church books was named Ilija Nuic, who moved from Hercegovina to the island of Brac during the Ottoman empire attacks, so I was kind of following his trail.

What is your profession?

As a graduated petroleum engineer, I started my career as a field engineer in INA-Naftaplin (today’s ‘Crosco’) at oil and gas fields in Croatia for a few years and after getting basic experience, I got an opportunity to fulfil my dream to join US oil and gas service giant company Baker Hughes GE, where I work till today. In order to reach executive status, in mine and similar companies focused on the oil gas service sector, one must gain field experience for the first 4-5 years, followed by managerial roles in operations, sales and technical support, by moving from country to country every 3-4 years – staying too long in one place and in the same role, has proven to have a negative impact on both, employee and company. That was an opportunity for me and family to spend the ‘time of our life’ in Kuwait where our son was born, a beautiful little city called Miri in Borneo, Malaysia, followed by exotic Jakarta, Indonesia, Dubai and finally Saudi Arabia, where I currently work the last 6 years.

What exactly do you do?

After several country and region leadership roles across Middle East and Asia Pacific, I am now having what I call a ‘dream job’ leading our Technology Centre in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, located in Dhahran Techno Valley innovation ecosystem on Academia ground, next to the largest National Oil Company in the world, where diversified group of 50 smart and energetic scientists (17 nationalities), creating innovations via collaboration to address the key Oil & Gas sector challenges for the benefit of our company and our clients in the region and beyond. 

Current industry trends are practiced in the centre – so called ‘4th industrial revolution’ (‘4IR’ or ‘Industry 4.0’) with focus on digital transformation / data analytics, AI, advanced materials ie non-metallic pipes or self-healing materials, future of design and manufacturing via 3D printing for metal, robotics/drones based inspections and Low carbon footprint.

What made you choose this profession?

Despite of continuous criticism how O&G industry damages the environment, there are so many positives about the industry, which are not promoted and well known, making a true positive impact on humanity today and in foreseeable future. I was attracted mainly by the field nature of work, it seemed to be quite cool and unpredictable, yet very rewarding sector.

What is/was your most successful professional accomplishment?

Beside the typical ones like making an impact on growing the business and developing people, the shear fact of being one of the first executives in the company today who is not a US/UK citizen or from the country in which company conducts its operations. Back in time and I believe even today to some extent, no one was coming to Croatia to look for the talent, the focus was always on countries where company operates. In Croatia, INA Naftaplin was fairly capable conducting full stream O&G business and there was no need for foreign companies presence. What it took is courage to call directly the company leader office, who happened to like my approach and enabled the opportunity for an interview. The rest was all entirely up to me, until today…. Basically, making my own way towards the top was the most pleasing feeling. I have to add, I would not succeed without family support to follow me all these year.

Ivo Nuić

What is the best advice you have received?

I have had around 15 different bosses/coaches throughout my career and each one has made specific impact on my own development, but I can name a few examples – when in dilemma what to do with many complicated options and scenarios, the ‘Sit tight’ approach pays off most of the time – don’t rush into critical decisions, sometimes ‘sitting tight’ or ‘sleeping over it’ brings the solution on its own the very next day. The other one is ‘80% is good enough’ rule – don’t aim for perfection in life or business, 80% is good enough almost always to get you the desired outcomes.

Is there any advice you would like to pass along to other professionals?

Always look forward, simply forget the past (but learn from it), never give up your dreams – persistency pays off! Most companies today are not necessarily only after the candidates with top grades and high IQ – it comes down the best employees are those you can trust 100%  and who display strong integrity, self-confidence, sincerity, honesty, courage, right attitude, practicality, teamwork, curiosity, ambition and ability to learn and share the knowledge. One of the key hiring question in our company was to draw the bike with all essential components and how to troubleshoot the car which does not start – you will be surprised how many top students with high grades could not handle such simple and practical questions with confidence!

What is your favorite place to visit in Croatia? Why? 

That’s a very easy question – Milna, Island Brac it is! This is The Home for us, where we spend most of our holidays and where we plan to retire one day. I was reading global magazine where the island of Brac was selected among the top 10 places in the world to retire. Throughout all 24 years of international life, we always truthfully and passionately enjoyed promoting our beautiful country to international friends. In the same time, our son was attending international schools in all those countries where he also had opportunities to promote Croatia with the high sense of pride. Based on that, we have many of our friends visiting Croatia and we are quite busy in the spring time, responding to their emails, validating their travel plans.

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