"Stay true to your values"

He and his team have made the STYRIA brand "24sata" the number one medium in Croatia: After 15 years, managing director Boris Trupcevic is now leaving the company. At the farewell, the 44-year-old looks back on what he has achieved, discusses challenges in the future, tells what he will (not) miss - and gives a valuable message to his colleagues.

FROM PHILIPP LACKNER

 

When you started at STYRIA, you said you would stay for 5 years, but in the end, it became a period of 15 years. What made you decide to stay even longer than originally planned?

BORIS TRUPČEVIĆ: As a young professional I had this view from American books, never to be longer than four or five years in the same job. This was supposed to be the best frequency to gain experience and to be able to realize yourself step by step. When I started at 24sata 15 years ago, I told Klaus Schweighofer: "If you will still need me in five years, it will mean I did a bad job”. Because my principle has always been: if you don't make yourself superfluous as a manager in a certain period of time, you're not a good manager, you haven’t built a self-sustainable business and organisation underneath you. But the "24sata" project ultimately exceeded all expectations. It became such a great success and more and more challenges emerged. The good thing about it was that I was able to change professional positions frequently within 24sata. So, it was more "three times five years" than "continuous 15 years in one job".

What are the reasons why you are leaving STYRIA now?

TRUPČEVIĆ: Finally, 15 years really is a long time. I just felt that it was the right time to try something new and completely different.

What will you do in the future?

TRUPČEVIĆ: I can't reveal too much yet, but I will go to a company that is outside the media industry and very international. My daily focus will also be very international.

That means you will be on the road a lot?

TRUPČEVIĆ: Yes, in my head and of course physically.

It is remarkable what you and your team have achieved with 24sata. Number 1 medium in Croatia, numerous international awards, so much innovation, for example in the video sector, then the digital re-invent and much more. Is there actually anything more possible? 

TRUPČEVIĆ: In my experience it is always a problem when you achieve so much and have a dominant market position. It is then difficult to decide what your next goal should be, other than protecting No1 position. But the world we live in has so many dimensions. To put it like that: Even if we have already achieved a lot on the vertical, there is still a lot to manage on the horizontal. I believe that, especially in the video sector, there is still so much that can be done. Of course, there will be enormous competition, but there can also be great success, not only in terms of the number of users, but also in terms of advertising revenues. The world is changing fast and there is always something new you can focus on. Society is also changing and here it will continue to be our job to be the good force in society. This is a constantly ongoing process.

This means that your colleagues will not be bored in the future.

TRUPČEVIĆ: Never. That is for sure.

To come back to the role of STYRIA in Croatia: What is its position, also in economic terms?

TRUPČEVIĆ: STYRIA is an exceptional player on the Croatian market, not least because of its spirit of innovation and offensive approach to the digital transformation. It will continue to be at the forefront here. It is the largest publishing company in the country, and this naturally brings with it a great social and economic responsibility. I personally think the way STYRIA deals with this responsibility is very good, with all its brands. By all of them actively trying to give this country a vision and push the social agenda, in the sense of reforms that are urgently needed to move Croatia forward. In this context, we have launched many campaigns, conferences and initiatives in the past, which all have one thing in common: To achieve progress for Croatia.

In which areas should STYRIA invest in Croatia in the future?

TRUPČEVIĆ: That is quite easy to answer. The first goal should be to be a pioneer and first mover in the field of digital subscriptions. That means making most users paying users. Croatia is still uncharted territory. The second goal should be to invest in video. Globally, one sees that there is a large shift from TV to video in media consumption and advertising money. This trend is clear. There is a very promising opportunity for STYRIA to enrich its portfolio. And thirdly: STYRIA should keep an eye on start-ups that are active in the media industry. For example, local native advertising agencies.

You have posted on Facebook that you are very satisfied with what you have achieved. What in particular?

TRUPČEVIĆ: In general, I am very satisfied with what we have achieved. My personal dream as a journalist was to pull up a tabloid with the same high-quality content as the so-called quality media. I knew we could do that in Croatia, equally successful as it had been done in other markets, but also different to old-school tabloids. I also knew: This can be fun! And I knew that one can give such a voice to ordinary people, to those who are often not heard. That became true. 24sata became a huge success. This is probably the most satisfying thing of all, because it was so far from any expectation. Worth noting, 24sata was the last successful paid newspaper launch in Europe. Then, of course, the digital transformation: there was one innovative project after another, during which we formed a great team. No company in the region went this far with digital.

What were you perhaps less proud of?

TRUPČEVIĆ: Well, you can't always be successful. For example, our "News Television" didn't work, for several reasons. Mainly because we believed that we could do everything and that we had to complement our portfolio with it. We had strong competition and wrong timing. The launch was at the very beginning of the economic crisis. We were probably too late with our e-commerce project "Mondo" and perhaps overestimated our capabilities.

What was the greater challenge? To pull a newspaper out of the ground or to master the digital transformation in the best possible way?

TRUPČEVIĆ: That's a very interesting question. The success of the print newspaper was figuratively speaking a sprint. Within a period of six to 12 months, it was clear that we were winning the market. That was very fast. In contrast, the digital transformation is a marathon. I would say that the transformation was and is the far greater challenge. For the print newspaper we knew what needed to be done and we did it quickly. But to master the digital transformation is something else. Consumer behaviour is changing all the time, as we saw, for example, when everyone switched to mobile devices. You must constantly reinvent yourself.

What values have made 24sata the strong and successful medium it is today?

TRUPČEVIĆ: To be the clear voice of the people, in a simple and understandable language. To explain complex issues to the general public and to safeguard the interests of the readers. What people really appreciate are our short articles. Writing the essentials condensed into a few lines, without losing any important information, is the high art of journalism. To be honest, to stay fair and to tell the truth to the decision makers in the country - that's what we are.

What will 24sata look like in 15 years?

TRUPČEVIĆ: That's a difficult question to answer. But I believe that 24sata will stand by its values even 15 years from now and will be the number one among Croatian media. But in a multimedia environment that will inform, educate and explain, while continuing to entertain and provide fun.

You will continue to work for STYRIA as advisor. What is your task here?

TRUPČEVIĆ: That's right, I will continue to be available. I have gained so much media experience over the past 25 years that it would be a pity not to continue to share it. In the future, I will be there for the 24sata team mainly in strategic matters and will help them to overcome challenges. With accumulated knowledge, sometimes you can provide solutions within minutes, and save other people hours, days of even weeks of hard work.

What will you miss?

TRUPČEVIĆ: In one word: everything. In more than one word: I will miss all my colleagues. Working with enthusiasts, with pioneers who dare to do things differently. People with whom it is great to work together. What I will still miss: journalism and media. All the excitement, this intense engagement with critical issues, the creative process of breaking down exclusive information to readers and users, sometimes in a very funny way, sometimes in a serious way.

And what do you rather not miss?

TRUPČEVIĆ: The calls from people who try to influence our reporting. Calls from people who want us not to publish something at all. The pressure from outside to frame certain topics in a certain way. All that is a normal part of a media job, but that part I won't miss for a second.

What message do you have for your team?

TRUPČEVIĆ: Stay true to your values, don't make bad compromises, try to think differently and set your goals high. Stay open for change, keep an open mind, be flexible and pragmatic. There is only one obstacle standing between you and success – it is you. Once you realize that, you can achieve anything!

Pictures: (c) pixsell