Career Paths Connects had its premiere in Croatia in January this year, with the goal to help students in Croatia with their career development, relying on Italian and other international experiences that Dolly Predović Todorović, CEO of The Career Paths, gained in her long career of an educator, as a professor of Corporate Finance and Valuation in SDA Bocconi School of Management, Director of the International Executive Education Division and Director of the Master in Corporate Finance. She currently sits on the Supervisory Boards of two banks (one Croatian and the other Montenegrin) and of Hrvatski Telekom, part of the Deutsche Telekom Group. In 2012, she founded The Career Paths to dedicate herself as entrepreneur to building a consulting firm in the field of education. Since 2015, Dolly has been the Honorary Consul of Montenegro in Milan for Lombardy, Piedmont and Valle D’Aosta.
We want to communicate the best international practices for career development to students with the establishment of Career Paths Croatia, and provide them with an easier entrance to the world of business at home and abroad. For that, they need intercultural and interpersonal skills that this region cares for and utilizes insufficiently.
- As an Honorary Consul, you have been working hard to help our students in Italy. Is it a pathway to successful international career or also a career at home?
International experience significantly strengthens and opens possibilities for future employment and career development. I would primarily like to point out several significant pillars of internationalization: above all, focus is placed on development of a set of skills necessary for doing business in the 21st century, like self-management, quick thinking, problem solving. Meeting with an international career automatically sets in motion and activates the aforementioned capacities, as well as the intercultural and interpersonal capacities. In today’s world of business, soft skills are of utmost importance for better business adaptation.
Another important pillar that increases employment opportunities is the social capital, a good social network and development of social skills. Of course, leaving your original community, and bearing in mind the encounter with other cultures and values, quite naturally increases the social capital as well. Universities are the right place to expand your network and develop interpersonal skills.
Staying abroad means that we have to introduce the above mentioned elements into our behaviour, and with this, whether abroad or at home, you increase your competencies and know-how, and this is precisely what the labour market needs today.
- What is “internationalization at home” and how it affects the career paths of students and their motivation to work abroad?
The “Internationalization at Home” programs involve active inclusion of the elements I mentioned in my previous answer in academic curricula. We need to find a way for all those who stay to study in universities at home to integrate the values of international studying into study programs. Of course, it is necessary to motivate the pupils, students and lecturers to take an active part in international academic activities being organized in their communities.
It is my opinion that precisely Montenegro and the regional countries have great advantage in this sense, an advantage that might not have been entirely utilized. I will take Montenegro as an excellent example, because we are talking about a country that has a significant number of different cultural groups, a country with strong multiculturalism, multi-ethnicity, and multi religiosity. This is an extraordinary opportunity precisely for studying and dissemination of knowledge, especially due to excellent integration of the mentioned groups. Precisely this inertness in accepting these differences has to be transformed into activation and exploration, because that is an excellent source of new knowledge and skills and precisely of what we refer to “Internationalization at home”. You have an excellent opportunity to learn about different cultures, ethnic groups, religions, to gain new experience, network, increase tolerance, and all this you can do at home, in close proximity. Why not take advantage of such a unique opportunity?
- As the founder of Career Path you recently started working in Croatia. What are your aims and goals?
A unique vision focused on providing support to students in development of quality solutions for building custom-made academic and career paths is behind Career Paths Croatia. In the professional approach that Career Paths Croatia cherishes together with Jasmina and Josipa Bagarić, we decided to communicate Italian, but also other international experiences with the goal to introduce students to the best international practices for career development that can help them make their encounter with the business world easier. To get to know and define their skills in the most reliable manner, and to approach the world of business with ease and security with the help of prominent career development experts.
- Having in mind that many people, young and older, are struggling to find a right career path, what would you share as a word of advice with our readers?
I will underline experience here as an extremely relevant category. Namely, it is important to focus as much as you can to practice and gaining different experiences, while paying attention and thinking about the effect that such experiences had on development of competencies and skills. It is important to understand and contemplate the importance of experiential categories, but also to develop the ability to apply what we learnt while gaining different experiences. Also, we can individualize strengths this way, as well as utilize opportunities to improve competencies and skills. Therefore, in addition to the acquired knowledge and education, as much experiences and practices as possible to fill the suitcases with your knowledge.
- Having in mind that the chase for talents is now global, do you fear that countries in the region may feel increased brain drain? How can the states cope with that?
Rather than fear, I would say it’s a fact – brain drain is happening in Western Balkans since the nineties, but that’s not the case only with the countries in the region. The brain drain doesn’t necessarily have to be tied to unemployment or insufficiently stable material status. In essence, it can be a need for new experiences, different knowledge, new horizons. We have some cases of extremely well-situated people who, fed up with events in the Balkan region, have the need simply to change their environment and vice versa. Many foreigners are showing interest precisely in Montenegro as a fast-developing destination, to find their new place to live right there.
I believe that it is necessary to conduct a deep, systemic analysis and research primarily in order to understand the reasons adequately. Of course, we need to step out of the framework of public debates and deal with implementation of specific measures. I believe that exactly by investing in innovations, science and research, we can increase our human resources and create better conditions for an education that must be practically applicable.
- As a professor at Bocconi who inspired the creation of the first international MBA program at the university do you feel that today’s MBA curricula can catch up with the changes in the global business environment?
I believe that they can, but on the condition that a deep and significant change happens within the programs themselves. It’s not enough to learn to apply tools that the labour market demands. So, knowledge about the use of single models is not sufficient, you must learn why this exact tool is applicable, and why would some other tool be a better solution. Companies organize different trainings within their educational processes and that is why it is important for MBA to look at the broader context of knowledge and to call for reflection about processes and instruments, and not to qualify itself as competition to companies that conduct trainings. We must not forget that economy is a social science, it’s not mathematics or physics, it primarily observes the human behaviour. And we need to teach the students not only to work and use instruments and tools, but also to think and reason during their work process and utilization of the same.
- In your new post at Universita Catholica del Sacro Cuore, your research is focused on international internships and graduate employability. Would you witness, as some people say, that there is a rising precarity among young academics?
On one hand, I think not, because if someone opts for a specific academic career today, it’s someone who basically wants to do research, and it is becoming more and more specialized. If you want to engage in academic work, this would imply that you know how to use instruments for scientific and research work and how to publish scientific papers in magazines that are periodicals on a global level. So, if you want to pursue academic work that really means serious scientific research. In my opinion, leaving the academic field, especially in regional countries, is most often caused by economic reasons. In other realities, like the Anglo-Saxons or the United States, the world of business is integrating the competencies of the academic community into business development to a much greater extent, while when it comes to regional countries, this mainly happens with engineers, or faculties of technical sciences.