On Thursday, March 3rd, I attended an Invest in Slovakia session in New York City sponsored by the Slovak Government and KPMG. The session was held at KPMG’s offices on Park Avenue. I often work with foreign governments to help them attract foreign trade and investment.
The event featured presentations by the Slovak Ambassador to the US, the former US Ambassador to Slovakia, the Slovak Minister of Economy, the CEO of the Slovak Investment Agency (SARIO), the Chief Commercial Officer of Citi in Slovakia, Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Slovakia and the Head of Transaction Services for KPMG in Central and Eastern Europe. All the presentations were cogent with clear, well-organized slides in business English. A networking session followed the presentations. There was even a buffet lunch that was well beyond the usual turkey sandwich. All the presentations revolved around a central theme — if you are doing business in Central Europe, Slovakia is your destination because of its stability, location, business environment and ratio of labor productivity to labor cost.
When I compare the Slovakian presentations to other European countries further East, I recall Communist-style speakers, slides with mistakes, endless economic statistics irrelevant to business people, excuses for the political situation, and a depiction of the business environment as, “We have made many reforms. Our business environment is not nearly as bad as you might think.” Comparatively, many of these countries have larger and younger populations, more natural resources and seaports yet you would not think of them as superior investment destinations based on how and what they present. Slovakia is a small, landlocked country with limited natural resources but was presented in the most positive light possible.
The moral of the story is that it matters HOW you say it.