Report: Aspen Young Leaders Program March 2019

The eighth edition of the Aspen Young Leaders Program took place on March 21-24, 2019. Thirty four young Central European leaders from business, public administration, sports, academia, science and NGO sectors gathered in the remote reaches of the Slovak Tatra Mountains. For four days the group engaged in interactive workshops, experience sharing, personal stories and discussions about their role in the current society and challenges we are facing. 

The participants appreciated genuine discussions, diversity among the speakers and participants as well as an exposure to new topics, which challenged and pushed them to self-reflection. We have included empowerment workshops and sessions focused on sharing experiences, which are highlights of the program allowing the young leaders to dive into meaningful conversations about their jobs, mission and values. The informal activities are important for networking and recognizing the value of dialogue among the peers that are facing similar challenges in their jobs and personal lives. Traditionally, we have again organized a visit to the steel mill in Podbrezová showing the participants the reality of industrial labour.

“The program greatly motivated me and provided me with valuable tips on leadership. The importance of having a purpose was a reoccurring element among the speakers and was my main takeaway , inspiring me to frame my own purpose more clearly. I am also excited to take advantage of the new professional connections, so I see this program as a fantastic stepping stone to future opportunities and partnerships.”
Zuzana Vuová

The introduction was moderated by Pavel Řehák, Vice President of the Aspen Institute CE and CEO at Vigo Investments, and Pepper de Callier, Chair of the Supervisory Board & Founder of the Aspen Institute CE.

The program was started off by Tomáš Salomon, CEO of Česká spořitelna, who offered his perspective on what it means to be a good leader. He shared a personal story about his starting own small business which led him toward a corporate life, where as a “non-corporate animal”  he had to find his own way.

“I was searching for a way how to somehow help in civil society and I feel the contacts and talks will help me with that.”

Šárka Kinclová worked for the IBM and Apple Europe at senior positions. Currently, she divides her time into more activities and social roles: she is a passionate traveler, teacher, consultant on the use of digital technology, bone marrow donor and volunteer medical aid traveler. In her presentation, Šárka stressed the positive impact of sometimes being lost and overcoming tough situations that lead to one´s personal growth. She highlighted that: “Passion comes with a purpose.”

Miky Škoda, Founder of LowCost Race and LeapMakers, facilitated a workshop on facing the paralyzing power of fear and transforming it into positive energy through exercises focused on stepping out from the comfort zone and open-minded improvisation.

“I realized that I  have worked in bubble (working space, people, ideas, my position) and it definitely pushed me to move forward and step up, I had also time to reflect of my current situation, and talking to other participants I realized what I  need to change in my life.”

The topic of the discussion with Gen. (Ret.) Petr Pavel was leadership in the military. He shared his personal story about the journey from the Communist Eastern Bloc to the Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, which was followed by a discussion about contemporary threats and the future of warfare.

Another workshop was led by Igor Blaževič, Founder and Director of One World (Jeden Svět), Europe’s largest documentary film festival about human rights. Igor summed up the story of People in Need, the NGO providing immediate humanitarian aid, international and local development and promoting human rights. The workshop was focused on the dilemmas workers and organizations have to nowadays face while supporting democracy and human rights around the globe.

The personal journey and the everyday life of MEP was discussed with Martina Dlabajová, Member of the European Parliament. The group conversed about the issues of Brexit as well as how to explain to the public why is it necessary to go to elections or why the EU is crucial.

The creative sector was represented by Yemi A.D., Founder and CEO of JAD Productions, whose presentation focused on the future of creativity, its overlap to digital evolution and leading through vision.

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The program is financially supported by

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