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7 Questions with Barbara Salopek
7 Questions with Barbara Salopek
Name: Barbara Salopek
Current title: CEO
Current organisation: Vinco Innovation
Barbara was born and raised in Zagreb, Croatia, COE of Vinco, is a Master’s graduate from the Norwegian School of Economics (NHH) in Bergen. Barbara has vast experience behind her in innovation and commercialization. She has working experience from three foreign countries. She is speaking three foreign languages, and has studied in three different countries. The five biggest projects she has enjoyed leading had a total value of cc. 30 million NOK. Barbara is a successful doer who makes things really do happen. She is passionate about diversity and inclusion.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
As a leader of the SME, the most challenging is to juggle a very limited budget and different roles one has. You are not only the CEO, but you are also HR manager, you are also CFO, head of Marketing, chef of R&D&I while at the same time you need to drive sales. While this enables me to learn a lot, it can sometimes be quite demanding to manage all the balls in the air.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
It was very easy, I started the company myself 😊 and I am driving its growth.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
Every day starts with the list that was made the evening before: what needs to be done, which meetings I have. After having a clear picture in my head, I make myself a cup of coffee, do 5 minutes of yoga, and kick off the day officially. After the working day is over, I look at the list of what was done, what was not, and why, and I make a list for the next day. The afternoon is usually filled with my kids' activities, my training, and phone calls with my family- my two brothers who also live abroad to check on how their day was.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The most significant leadership lesson I have learned is that it is important to do small things every day. This is important for two reasons: a) small things are easier to do than big things. So cut the big task into small subgoals. B) Doing small things every day creates a cumulative compound effect in the long run. So even if you do not see the result today, keep in mind it will come someday. This really is true!
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
One of the latest books I have read and liked a lot was from a Norwegian author eirik Kristofferesen: The hunting spirit (Jegerånden). The book is nicely written in a simple but inspirative language. He talks about his experiences as the defense general in Norwegian army, his learnings about project leadership and resilience which also can be closely linked with innovation principles. He gives many interesting (project) leadership tips and one of the quotes I liked the best is: “We learned early on that what was safe can be dangerous. We were safe in mountains, however, several times the trip took a slightly different tur that we had thought.”
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
One word: Integrity. In Norway reputation is extremely important. It is important for your colleagues and employees to trust you as a leader. In a small company, you are extremely dependent on the team. On the other hand, integrity is important for getting clients, they must feel safe and trust you to work for you especially when you are a foreigner. It takes time to build the reputation but it does pay off to build it in the right way.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
Being a CEO of a small company you are like a magician, out of almost nothing creating something and making it grow and your most valuable resource is your team. One of the most inspirational things to me is when people tell me that working with me gave them so much confidence.