The traditional 26th HUM-CROMA conference (Croatian Managers' & Entrepreneurs' Association) was held on 25 November 2016 in Zagreb. On this occasion, the winners of the Manager of the Year 2016 Award, in nine categories, as well as the recipients of the Certificates of Merit were presented.   

A panel of expert judges and the Managing Board of the HUM-CROMA Association selected Mr Marijan Lorencin, owner and managing director of AITAC d.o.o. Marine & Offshore Engineering, for the Manager of the Year 2016 Award, in the small enterprises category.

Mr Lorencin also received a Certificate of Merit for his personal contribution to the development of Croatian economy in the export oriented shipbuilding industry.  On this occasion, we bring a short interview with Mr Lorencin.  


1.      How important to you and/or your company are the Certificate of Merit from your peers and the Manager of the Year Award?

For the Manager of the Year Award, I was nominated by the County Chamber of Economy in Rijeka, which is well acquainted with the overall economy in the region. This means they selected us after taking into account the relevant business performance results and indicators, which is a testament to our excellence, and I am extremely pleased about that.  The Manager of the Year Award is not something I see as only my own, it belongs to the whole AITAC team. Naturally, our greatest reward are new contracts, especially when they come from new clients. As for this award, we see it as one more recognition for all our hard work so far and another indicator that we are moving in the right direction.

On the other hand, I was truly honoured to receive professional recognition for special contribution to the development of shipbuilding in Croatia. For me, it is very important to have been recognized by CROMA, as an umbrella organization for Croatian managers, headed by the panel of expert judges.  Since the very foundation of AITAC, the business has been growing continuously, with 98% of our revenue coming from the export of our services. Hence, this recognition in the field of export oriented shipbuilding industry. This is one of the results of a whole range of my activities during all these years of my professional career in shipbuilding. Those activities pertain mostly to a cooperation with the Faculty of Engineering in Rijeka, more specifically the cooperation with young students of naval architecture and mechanical engineering. Investment into students and young people is a long-term but safe investment into future, whose results will definitely not be evident in the short-term plans. As much as this recognition is important to me and my team, it is equally important for Croatian shipbuilding industry in general and for the whole of Croatia, especially today when we find ourselves overwhelmed by the negativities in the news.  Croatian shipbuilding lives on!

2. In your opinion, what are the crucial qualities and characteristics of a successful manager?

 That is a rather complex question and there are many lectures, books and theories dedicated to this subject. I am not even sure if I am competent to answer the question. Management is understood from many different perspectives. Also, we need to be able to distinguish between a manager, a leader and an entrepreneur. In my opinion, the role of entrepreneur is the most complex, as he/she starts from a blank slate and is actually required to have the qualities of all three.

In any case, a successful manager must be able to successfully manage all aspects of business operation, as well as of their own personal life. More specifically, this means successfully managing or, actually, satisfying all the stakeholders in your business. And the stakeholders are basically everyone. They are clients, owners, partners, employees, the state and its institutions, vendors, banks as well as creditors, if you have any.  If you satisfy the needs of one group but neglect the needs of another, you are most certainly not a successful manager. The more balanced satisfaction level, the better, and as the satisfaction level becomes higher, the manager becomes more successful.

It is a common misconception that others work for a manager. On the contrary, a successful manager works for others, the stakeholders.

3. Do you think that a good manager is born or developed?

I would say it is the same as with top athletes. Ten percent is talent – what you are born with, and ninety percent is smart work – what you develop. Naturally, more charismatic personalities will have to work less hard to become a good manager. Although, there are theories today which claim that charisma can be taught, but I do not believe that.

We are born with certain qualities, but what truly defines us are the relationships within the family at a very early age. In addition, I believe that doing sports has a strong influence on a person. We can draw a parallel with building a house. If you have a sound foundation, you can build any kind of house you want. Without a solid foundation, the house can not be of good quality. Only then do we come to the matter of vision, i.e. what kind and how big the house will be. 

4. What is your personal motto? What motivates/drives you at work?

Those are two questions – what is my personal motto, and what motivates me. I think that answers to both those questions evolve as you grow, mature and develop on a personal level. If I were to sum up my own vision, or what motivates me, it would be - to make something big, something that will serve the greater good.

My own personal motto for a long time has been “Do not treat others in ways you would not like to be treated yourself”; that is only a slightly different version of the old golden rule: “Treat the others the way you want to be treated. It may sound as a platitude, but I really do believe this. On the other hand, what really demotivates me is injustice.


5. What is your personal goal that you wanted to achieve by becoming an entrepreneur?

My life has always been connected to the sea and ships. The first flat where I lived as a child was on the 12th floor of a skyscraper in Rijeka with a huge terrace overlooking the entire Kvarner Bay. In that golden age I remember the Bay being full of ships. That fascinated me. Somewhere around the age of 3, I started calling myself “Marijan the Ship”; I think it made a lasting impression on me.

It has been like in that poem by Arsen Dedić “It all led me to you” – the sea, then sailing, studying naval architecture at university, my first job, starting a naval engineering company. 

My dream, which I had not dared to admit even to myself for a long time, has been to have my own shipyard. I still think it is a very big dream, an ambitious endeavour. However, I now know this dream is not impossible.

When I first started the firm, I thought that the AITAC we see today will become a reality some time towards the end of my career. But it took only ten years. So, for now, my goal is to make AITAC even better. I want to hear others say: ”That is one heck of a team, those guys and gals can handle anything that comes their way!”  

When we reach that point, I think it will be the final step and a solid base for a potential shipyard.

As to why I decided to become an entrepreneur? Because I have big dreams, because I was very unhappy with the situation around me and I wanted to change something. Besides, that special moment in your life came when you say to yourself: It's now or never; I did not want to look at myself in the mirror of the future and hear: “You had your chance and you didn’t even try.”