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​Former Croatian President visits Tsinghua SEM


Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, fourth President of the Republic of Croatia and current member of the International Olympic Committee Executive Board, visited Tsinghua University's School of Economics and Management (Tsinghua SEM) to deliver a keynote speech titled "Beyond Borders: Presidential Lessons and Croatia as China's Gateway to European Union" on September 1, 2023. Guest speaker Professor Mato Njavaro, dean of the Zagreb School of Economics and Management, also attended the event. Professor BAI Chong-En, dean of Tsinghua SEM, Mansfield Freeman Chair Professor and executive dean of the Tsinghua University Institute for Global Development attended as the moderator.

In his opening remarks, BAI welcomed Grabar-Kitarović and her delegation on behalf of the school and mentioned her international promotion of Croatia. He introduced the guests and highlighted the student exchange program between Tsinghua SEM and the Zagreb School of Economics and Management. Dean BAI said he looks forward to increased cooperation between the institutions.

BAI Chong-En, dean of Tsinghua SEM, Mansfield Freeman Chair Professor, and executive director of Tsinghua University Institute for Global Development, delivers his opening remarks.

During her speech, Grabar-Kitarović reflected on her political career and advised that leadership is not innate but acquired through continuous learning. She said the ability to adapt to change and direct it are two key elements of leadership. Furthermore, qualities such as emotional intelligence, teamwork, and cross-cultural communication skills are essential to the cultivation of leadership.

Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović, fourth President of the Republic of Croatia and current member of the IOC Executive Board, delivers her keynote speech.

Grabar-Kitarović used her personal experience as a case study of the resistance leaders may encounter when directing change and how this resistance can be overcome with wisdom and patience. She said leaders must maintain an open and inclusive mindset, prioritize the interests of the people, and strive to enact positive change. Despite the challenges she has faced during her presidency, she has held onto her commitment to prioritize the interests of the people and contribute to her country and the world.

Serving as the President of Croatia has been an honor, she said, and it provided her with the opportunity to promote Croatia's history and culture - as well as its beautiful scenery - abroad. She said there is a long history of civil interaction between China and Croatia, and she is deeply impressed by the Chinese people's keen interest in Croatia every time she visits. Although there is a huge difference in geographical area between China and Croatia, the desire to learn more and share in innovation has driven the bilateral relationship closer and closer, she said. Grabar-Kitarović hopes China and Croatia can strengthen their exchange in the spirit of exploration and learning.

Dean Njavaro explained Croatia's advantages as a doorway for Chinese businesses eager to enter the European Union. He said Croatia's geographical location is strategically advantageous, serving as a bridge between China and Europe. Establishing a company in Croatia can provide Chinese enterprises with easier access to markets in European countries. Additionally, Croatia's thriving tourism industry and untapped potential in the sports sector make it an attractive destination for Chinese investment. Dean Njavaro encouraged Tsinghua students to visit Croatia for cultural exchange and study.

Mato Njavaro, dean of Zagreb School of Economics and Management, Croatia, speaks.

The rich content of the guests' speeches enhanced students' understanding of presidential leadership and provided them with a deeper insight into Croatia, a European country with a unique strategic position. Following the speeches, Grabar-Kitarović and Njavaro responded to student questions on topics such as Chinese investment in Croatia, the impact of Croatia's EU membership on immigration policies, and how to strengthen cooperation between China and Europe on regulatory matters within the context of the Belt and Road Initiative.

The participants

This event was organized by Tsinghua SEM and the Tsinghua University Institute for Global Development and attracted more than 70 participating students from the school's programs, including the master's programs, MBA, EMBA, and Executive Education program.

Source: Institute for Global Development, Tsinghua University