With the fall of an empire comes the inevitable economic transition that destroys some and creates others.
Yesterday, Gligor “G” Tashkovich ’87 delivered a lecture on business in transitioning economies to Prof. Elena Iankova’s Business Admin Elective (NBA) 590 class.
Currently, Tashkovich is the executive vice president for government and media relations for AMBO LLC (the Albanian-Macedonian-Bulgarian Oil Corporation) on the $1.1 billion Trans-Balkan Oil Pipeline project. This historic pipeline project will connect the Black Sea with the Adriatic Sea and cross the Republics of Bulgaria, Macedonia and Albania.
Beginning working for AMBO in mid-1994, Tashkovich has met regularly with presidents and prime ministers as well as their ministers, ambassadors and advisers. In addition, he has negotiated agreements between and among the three countries and marketed the project concept to oil companies, financiers, governments, international financial institutions and the media.
Tashkovich has lived and worked in 42 countries around the world and has worked with nine of the largest companies in Macedonia to assist in their transitions toward joining the market economy.
From his experience living and working in this region since 1992, Tashkovich shared nine ground rules about successful business dealings in transitional economies.
His first lesson was that it is important to build a solid relationship with your client. Second, you should ask every question at least twice, but never at the same meeting. This repetition will allow you to uncover the full story and to ensure that what you are being told is true, without making your client weary.
Next, Tashkovich stressed the importance of communication and the mastery of languages. Attempting to speak the local language will build trust and will make relations stronger.
Tashkovich also lectured that it is important to remember that the legal infrastructure in Eastern Europe is always shifting, so it is important to have an understanding of current laws.
In addition, Tashkovich recommended that one’s visit to the country should include a trip to the local embassy.
For his sixth lesson, Tashkovich advised being familiar with the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, a United States law that prevents “American companies from making corrupt payments to foreign officials for the purpose of obtaining or keeping business,” according to the Business Information Service for the Newly Independent States.
In his seventh lesson, Tashkovich advised that “patience is indeed a virtue and you will need a lot of it when you travel.” He explained that everyone in these countries is still learning the new system and gets frustrated very easily.
Tashkovich also warned to watch out for unsolicited offers. He warned to be cautious for opportunities that seem to easy, for there are usually many complexities within them.
Finally, Tashkovich explained that there is very little understanding of the value of money in these emerging countries.
Tashkovich closed his speech with an African proverb that stresses the importance of hard work and perseverance:
Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up,
It knows that it must outrun the fastest lion to survive.
Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up,
It knows that it must outrun the fastest gazelle to survive.
It does not matter whether you are a gazelle or a lion,
When the sun comes up, you had better be running.
Tashkovich continues to be heavily involved with Cornell University affairs, recently completing a two-year term on the Administrative Board of the University Council as its youngest member ever.
NBA 590 is a half-semester management elective course offered in the Johnson School. The course explores business development in the transition economies of central and Eastern Europe and Russia.
Archived article by Melissa Costa