Dr. Barbara Toplak Perovič: »Our students should be sought-after, not job seekers«

Alma Mater Europaea - ECM specializes in offering career-oriented education in professions that lack employees, and will this year open a new minor within the management program in the area of Family business.

We spoke about the mentioned program, lecturers, study offer for employable professions and advice to prospective students or pupils enrolling in this year with dr. Barbara Toplak Perovic, Study dean of the Management Program.

In this academic year, you are opening a new minor within the Management study programme, namely Family Business. Who is this study programme for? Who are the potential students?

About 70% of all businesses are family owned. Research has shown great vulnerability in transferring companies to the next generations, with only 30% of businesses successfully taken over by the second generation, and only 12% moving into the third generation, while only about 3% of family businesses survive three generations. The lack of knowledge of the field and the mistakes in passing the business on from one generation to the next, means that a lot of potential is lost for the economy as well as for families were not able to pass their entrepreneurial traditions successfully to successors. Successful businesses need to have the knowledge and ability to survive beyond just one generation.

This study programme with the one-year module on Family Business is thus intended for anyone involved in the management of a family business, regardless of sector, as well as management students who wish to specialize in family business. We are talking about an education that includes both the psychology of management as well as the legal and economic elements and is conducted independently as a module or as part of the Management study program at Bachelor and Master degree.

Family business is also a driver of the Slovenian economy. Do you think that those who run family businesses are sufficiently educated in this direction? What is the added value they get from studying at Alma Mater in this program?

Family business is not only an important driver of the Slovenian economy, but one of the most important forms of business globally, therefore the education in the field of family business outside of Slovenia is already a common practice. The family members who take over the business, as well as their parents who created the company, must create sustainable intergenerational cooperation, because there is another child in the family business, standing between the parents and offspring - that is their company. Parents are especially protective of the company they’ve created, and often do not allow young people to come up with new ideas and more modern approaches to business. Therefore, the existence and development of family business is threatened mainly by irregular or inappropriate transfer mode or acquisition (legal issues), the introduction of more modern approaches to running a business, but also because of other disagreements within the family that relate to poor analysis and recognition of current and future challenges and, consequently, poor planning. Young people need to know the benefits of their parents' traditional values, and parents need to allow new, modern approaches to running a business and respect the benefits of the younger generation. Communication, respect and specific knowledge in running a family business are crucial.

Alma Mater therefore offers contents within the undergraduate and master's degree programs in Management that fall under the minor Family Business, including strategic management, financial management, legal knowledge, business digitization, organizational culture and the like. Another advantage of the program is interdisciplinarity, which puts challenges and solutions to current issues of family business at the heart of the study programme, making it applicable to all industries.

What kind of lecturers do we find in this new program?

The Family Business Program has a distinctly international character mainly due to experts from abroad, such as dr. Laurence Hewick from Canada, who has been running a Family Business Institute in Canada for many years and who helped design the Family Business Program. In general, we place great emphasis on including practitioners in teaching, and this is the case with this program. An important role will also be played by Slovenian entrepreneurs, who will participate in the program as guest lecturers in order to bring examples of good practices and especially competences to students for dealing with unpredictable and crisis situations.

It is increasingly important what kind of studies you choose, as later employment is also important. Alma Mater has been known for several years now to offer studies for employable professions. Which are the most interesting ones?

It is true, our students should at the end be the ones that the industry and the economy is looking for, and job seekers. This is our main guideline for operations and educational programmes at Alma Mater. That is why we offer the knowledge and competencies that the market needs. Young people are also aware of this, which is why enrolment at Alma Mater is increasing every year. Over the years, there has been a growing interest in health studies such as physiotherapy, nursing and social gerontology, which is understandable given the changing demographic picture. The need for health services is increasing, and health care is increasingly sought after. In neighbouring Austria, the need for medical staff is extremely high, so Austrians are ready to provide scholarships to our students to get qualified staff."

There is also a marked increase in interest in management studies at all levels of study, both from domestic students and foreigners. Successful managers from 11 countries and six continents are enrolled in the Doctoral Program in Project Management, while the Master and Bachelor study programme provides a god platform to ambitious Slovene students, who want contemporary knowledge, modern approaches to managing a company and innovative challenges.

What is your advice to prospective students or pupils enrolling in this year to study?

Find an area that makes you happy. Only with the love of work will you become great. We are here to help you on the road to victory, to bring to you the experience and wisdom of problem solving. We are aware that yours and our future depend on you.

Source: maribor24.si