Eighth CEEMAN Annual Conference in Trieste, Italy, 2000, with (from right to left) Vladimir Nanut, Dean of MIB, Riccardo Illy, mayor of Trieste, Danica Purg and Dutch entrepreneur Bert Twaalfhoven
For the first time, CEEMAN held its annual meeting outside of the former socialist world in Trieste, Italy, on October 12-14, 2000, hosted by Dean Vladimir Nanut of MIB School of Management. The region is a hothouse of entrepreneurship and the 120-plus delegates joined in "trialogues" between member schools, their students, and leading entrepreneurs, including Bert Twaalfhoven, a founder of the European Forum for Entrepreneurship Research and President of Indivers from the Netherlands, who spoke about 50 of his start-ups in 10 countries. Mindful that the dot-com boom was now becoming a bust, he focused critically on the 17 that failed. Among his messages: "innovate continuously," "implement decisions quickly," and "focus on cash flow NOW."
Student panelists validated these messages. Luka Novak, a bookstore publisher in Ljubjana, remarked, "The new economy is about creation. Selling comes later. Therefore we must not overestimate the new economy's potential as this might lead to huge losses."
Riccardo Illy, then Mayor of Trieste and an executive in his family's business which includes Illycaffè, a worldwide purveyor of coffee, welcomed CEEMAN to his city. The Illy brand embodies the hybrid Italian design impulses of tradition and modernity and Riccardo carries the moniker "missionary of espresso" based on his book Dal Caffe all'Espresso (From Coffeebeans to Espresso). Here he shared his entrepreneurial story with delegates and then talked about the revival of the region through stakeholder management practices adapted from business and the power of civil networks to foster social action and innovation.
His remarks echoed Robert Putnam's theses in Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy that inter-organizational networks and the resulting "social capital" are crucial in regional economic development. Several of the entrepreneurs spoke about the importance of such networks in building their businesses and Bohdan Budzan, General Director, IMI-Kyiv, Ukraine addressed the role of corporate-management development alliances in promoting entrepreneurship.
At the closing session, Danica Purg introduced a panel to explore the relationship between "arts and entrepreneurship." Slovene entrepreneur Japec Jakopin, famous all over the world for his wonderful yachts, spoke about designing them; Haris Pašović about theater and film making; and Klemen Ramovš about organizing concerts. Stefan Kwiatkowski, Conference Chair from LKAEM Poland, summed it up this way: "We have learned that entrepreneurship is not a profession but an approach. Whatever you deal with—boats, music, theater, or any other enterprise—you need to take this approach to be successful."
Delegates strolled through the timeworn streets of Trieste, once part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, later annexed by Italy, on their way to a gala dinner and dancing.