Career Story: Holger Peter Stupar, Sberbank Hrvatska d.d.

March 16, 2017

Global Executive MBA alumnus

What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you and why?

As I am a native Croatian, both privately and professionally the most important impact was actually moving from Croatia to Austria. Here I started to study, met my wife and embarked on the banking career.

Did you originally want to pursue a different career?

The right question should actually be, did I plan my career at all? My thesis adviser at that time, Professor Winckler, asked me what I intended to do after my graduation. As I had no clear idea back then, out of his position as supervisory board member of a big Austrian bank he offered to organize me a job interview. So I became a banker.

How and why did you come to work for Sberbank?

After 19 great years in Erste Group I received an invitation from Sberbank to join their team on a management board level in Croatia. I had a chance, I took it. After the first couple of months I can say that I am happy to have made that change to explore to opportunities and experiences.

What has changed in your career as a result of your MBA degree?

I attended the MBA program in 2009/10 after having worked in Croatia for more than nine years. This time coincided with the deepening of the world economy recession which also changed the banking business in several ways. My employer fully supported my participation in the EMBA realizing that the wide scope offered within the program rounds up a professional’s profile. After graduation the Bank offered me two attractive positions: I chose the one leading me to become Head of Risk Management in the subsidiary in Serbia.

What was your biggest professional/personal success?

Throughout my career I was mainly focused on risk management. However back in 2005 I accepted the possibility to lead a daughter company of Erste Group in Croatia where I was responsible for real estate financing and development – my experience in sales and real estate were close to zero. As the company was just in the middle of a huge project, the construction of the highest office building in Croatia, I was renamed to ‘Mr. Eurotower’ and had full responsibility for the operational and financial development of a EUR 60mn project. The final success was that my team constructed and rented an A-class building, sold it with a solid profit and delivered a great return to our shareholders.

What are your goals for the coming year?

Having a leadership position in general I aim to set unambiguous goals, develop an open communication culture and provide for a good working climate. What I still want to do at some point in time is to start my own business.

What do you consider a “great luxury”?


What was the last book/movie you really enjoyed?

I recently travelled to Israel for the first time. As a ‘pre-module’ I enjoyed some books by Stefan Zweig, the Austrian writer with Jewish background. As a ‘post-module’ I watched ‘The Young Pope’, the recent TV-series of a rather unorthodox Pope.

How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership?

I could not characterize it except for being a developing one. The way I manage not only my colleagues but also myself has been changing over time if not by anything else then by learning out of other and own mistakes.

How do you recharge your batteries when you are not pursuing your demanding career?

As a continuous recharging I consider dancing & singing as often as possible. As annual recharging I regard sailing – two weeks vacating on a boat equals four weeks vacating on land.

If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?

My mother.

Why would you recommend the Global Executive MBA of the WU Executive Academy? What did you like the most?

First of all because it is simply a great time spent with great people on great locations. Apart from that I really appreciated the excellent curriculum and professors that led us through the program. For me it was an investment with a high IRR :). What I liked most was the trip to China and India and the acquaintance with new cultures and ways of life.


My motto in life:
Carpe diem
I can laugh about:
my family.
Shortcomings I am most likely willing to overlook:
are those that are mine :).
I would spend my last money on:
a supper with the people I love.
In 20 years, I will:
grow olives in Istria and cook for family, friends and guests.

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