Slovenia at a glance

  • Capital: Ljubljana 
  • Expanse: 20.273 km² 
  • Inhabitants: 2 108 977
  • Main Cities: Ljubljana, Maribor, Kranj 
  • Language: Slovenian  
  • Currency: Euro 
  • Independant State since 1991

Controlling in Slovenia: Insights from the ICV Delegate Dragica Erčulj

The past, the present and the future of controlling and the ICV in South-East Europe: Annegret Glöckner, ICV Executive Advisor for Corporate Members, in an interview with Dragica Erčulj, leader of the ICV Work Group Slovenia and ICV Delegate for South-East Europe. 

Let’s talk about the ICV in Slovenia and the Adriatic region. What about the history? What were the first steps in this collaboration?
Erčulj: It was me who made the first step, it was a spontaneous action. In Slovenia, controlling has started and spread with a huge help of my Controlling School, which was established in 1995. My students in the Controlling school wanted to be in touch with trends in controlling and we tried to establish an alumni controller club. I was already a member of the ICV at that time and I suggested to found an ICV Work Group in Slovenia.

Seeds were sown, everything else was just a matter of organization. I called Alfred Blazek, co-founder of the CA Controller Academy. We knew each other from attending CA seminars and organizing the Controlling School in Slovenia. He suggested to come to Slovenia together with Dr. Herwig Friedag, who was responsible for the internationalization of the ICV at that time, to help us at our first meeting. Finally, the ICV Work Group Slovenia was founded in March 2007. It was really a nice meeting, full of good energy and 24 attendees, anxious for knowledge and practical experience. Almost all of them became members within a year after the meeting.

Meanwhile I am not only the leader ot that Work Group, but also the ICV Delegate for South-East Europe to help people in other countries to establish ICV Work Groups. 

How would you describe the role of Germany, Austria and Switzerland as economic partner for Slovenia?
Erčulj: The DACH countries, Italy and Croatia are the most important economic partners for Slovenia. Austria is the direct neighbour and therefore predisposed for intense economic exchange. However, Germany is the most important trade partner for the Slovenian economy. The export rate to Germany amounts to about 20 % of the total export, the import rate from Germany is about 16 % of the total. Slovenia is mainly importing machinery and automotive parts and vehicles from Germany, whereas Slovenia is mainly exporting vehicles, pharmaceuticals and electronic equipment to the German market.

How are Slovenia and the Adriatic region organized within the ICV network - and how ist the ICV represented in this area today?
Erčulj: The ICV is represented in the SECE region (Southeast and Central Europe) by nine ICV Work Groups, namely Slovenia, Croatia (2 Work Groups), Serbia, Bosnia and Hercegovina in the Adriatic Region as well as Hungary, Bulgaria, Romania and Spain. Most of them were established after the Work Group Slovenia, within the last 10 years. The ICV is organized regionally and every region has many Work Groups. The Adriatic region is different from others, because it consists of many countries - including different cultures, habits, behaviors and languages. Being in contact with all Work Group Leaders means meeting different people to exchange experiences and using English as a common language. Nowadays this is not difficult, we are connected online.

Who are the typical ICV members in Slovenia?
Erčulj: ICV Slovenia has about 60 members. 60% are women and they come from all over Slovenia from different industries and business functions. Most of them are managers and controllers, CFO and others. We had fast growth, meetings by the schedule (3-4 times a year) and a solid number of enthusiastic participants at every meeting. In the past two years things are changing due to the present pandemic situation in Slovenia and in the world. But we meet anyway, once a month on ZOOM.

Many multinational groups from Germany/Austria are active in Slovenia. Do they tend to connect with the ICV more if the HQ is already an ICV Corporate Member?
Erčulj: In Slovenia companies usually don't have big controlling departments, but one to three controllers. I made a reserch a few years ago and the number of controllers within a company depends on the management, the way of leadership and the success of the company.

Are there any plans for new ICV Work Groups in the Adriatic region?
Erčulj: Yes, there is always an interest, but covid has stopped the growth. I hope that the situation will be better soon. We plan one new ICV Work Group within 2021 and two more for the year 2022 in different countries.

The ICV in Slovenia

Dragica Erčulj
Leader of the ICV Work Group Slovenia
and ICV Delegate for South-East Europe 
ICV Work Group Slovenia

Get more informations

German-Slovenian Chamber of Industry and Commerce
Deutsch-Slowenische Industrie- und Handelskammer
Poljanski nasip 6
1000 Ljubljana

Phone +386 1 252 88 60
eMail: ahk{bei}


Further links

ICV Executive Advisor for Corporate Members

If you have questions on the ICV Corporate Membership or on the content of this site (in English or in German), please contact

Annegret Glöckner
E-Mail: a.gloeckner{bei}

"An important and promising location on the MAHLE map"

MAHLE is a leading international development partner and supplier to the automotive industry as well as a pioneer and technology driver for the mobility of the future. Annegret Glöckner, ICV Executive Advisor for Corporate Members, in an interview with Jan-Frederek Thiele, Vice President Corporate Controlling MAHLE International GmbH, and Benjamin Hödl, Director Controlling Business Unit Mechatronics and Electronics. 

Glöckner: Please introduce yourself and describe your role in the company.

Jan-Frederek Thiele: I am responsible for Corporate Controlling at MAHLE, which includes Corporate Management Reporting, Controlling Governance and Corporate Accounting. I joined MAHLE 15 years ago as a trainee. During this time my career at the company included a 2-year assignment in England and a 5-year stint in Spain. I then assumed responsibility for the Controlling of the European companies of the MAHLE Behr subgroup, before becoming head of Corporate Controlling.

Benjamin Hödl: I have also been with MAHLE for many years. In my capacity as a Business Unit Controller I am currently responsible for the Mechatronics and Electronics Business Unit in the MAHLE Group. This business unit was created as an independent operating segment on 1 January 2020.
The Business Unit Controlling function includes all aspects of Controlling, such as Operations Controlling, Project Controlling, R&D Controlling, planning, analysis and reporting. Our activities can be summarised as business partnering. During my 18 years at MAHLE I have also worked in multiple areas in both Germany and abroad. These positions included managerial roles in both France and Japan.

Glöckner: Please describe MAHLE’s operations in Slovenia.
MAHLE: Slovenia and its five sites have been an important focal point of MAHLE’s Electronics and Mechatronics activities since 2014, when we acquired the Letrika Group, a company based in Slovenia. The site in Sempeter is the European hub for the Mechatronics business segment for both production as well as research and development. In addition, there are currently further production plants in Bovec and Komen, as well as development facilities in Ljubljana and Maribor.
Additional products have been industrialised organically since the acquisition. That means this highly enhanced business is now an essential element of our dual strategy, according to which we focus on both further optimising our business with combustion engines and on opening up new business areas in the field of alternative drivetrains. Our current planning anticipates the group’s Slovenian operations will generate revenue in the mid triple-digit million euros in the future.

Glöckner: Last year MAHLE celebrated its 100th anniversary. The group is a global corporation and one of the 20 largest automotive suppliers worldwide with more than 72,000 employees. Today the global automotive industry is undergoing a major transformation process towards alternative powertrain solutions. As a country with a strong automotive sector, Slovenia is just as challenged to face this transformation process. What is MAHLE’s dual corporate strategy? Please describe this transformation process towards alternative powertrain systems and explain how the Slovenian subsidiaries are involved.
Jan-Frederek Thiele: One goal of our corporate strategy is to strengthen our traditional product areas in order to accelerate even further MAHLE’s switch to technologies beyond the internal combustion engine. We aim to remain strong in the business with internal combustion engines as long as they are needed in the international markets and demanded by our customers. After all, the problem is not the internal combustion engine itself, rather it is the fossil fuels that power them. The internal combustion engine combined with hydrogen and synthetic fuels actually offers great potential for saving carbon emissions. This established portion of the group strategy plays a very important role, in part because we use it to generate the financial means to enhance our portfolio with the same high level of intensity in the direction of e-mobility, fuel cells, hydrogen and e-fuels. We already generate around 60 per cent of our revenue independently of the internal combustion engine – and the trend is rising. By 2030 it should be more than three quarters. That means we are fully on track with the transformation.
Slovenia’s focus on Electronics and Mechatronics activities enables it to play an important role, especially in e-mobility. By the way, we are meanwhile one of the largest employers in Slovenia and are also heavily involved in Slovenia’s social, cultural and university life. The group has a partnership with the Felu University in Ljubljana, for example. In addition, MAHLE sponsors the country’s e-mobility rally. 

Glöckner: You are Vice President Corporate Controlling. What topics are you currently working on?
Jan-Frederek Thiele: I believe Controlling must concentrate on two areas. First, it must focus heavily on the growing challenge of always providing a reliable information basis for management to make the right decisions, i.e. by enabling the immediate integration of figures and information into the decision-making process. And second, Controlling should aim to increase cost efficiency continuously.
Our Controlling activities are also currently undergoing a transformation. At the moment we are fundamentally reorganising the function in order to focus on the fields of governance, data production and business partnering. Strong governance is important, especially in a group like MAHLE that operates worldwide. It enables global comparability by establishing binding rules for controlling and internal accounting.

Glöckner: Would you like to say something about the status of digitisation at MAHLE?
MAHLE: Digitisation naturally plays a very crucial role at MAHLE. It goes without saying that the year 2020 gave MAHLE’s digitisation strategy a further boost. Our initiatives in this regard now extend beyond topics such as Industry 4.0. We are working on this important topic in every aspect of the group and are establishing digital and modular processes.

Glöckner: Please describe how the Business Unit Controlling function is organised. How many people are employed here and how many of them are in Slovenia?
Benjamin Hödl: Our business unit is divided into four global segments. In turn, production plants and tech centers are organised in these segments. Corresponding Controlling functions are active at every level. In Slovenia we have a strong team that is also active across locations and countries, for example when preparing quotation calculations.

Glöckner: Please describe this cross-border cooperation using budget planning (or monthly reporting) as an example. What has it been like to work with your Slovenian colleagues?
MAHLE: A classic example is the walkthrough of the monthly reporting. We collaborate very closely with our Slovenian counterparts and are in close contact with each other. Both sides have highly qualified colleagues with a common understanding of our goals and tasks. Communication is therefore not a problem.

Glöckner: Does MAHLE have any experience with secondments of Finance/Controlling employees abroad, maybe even from/to Slovenia? What are the opportunities and challenges of such a secondment?
MAHLE: Secondments fundamentally play a very important role at MAHLE, and they are also consciously promoted, especially in the Finance and Controlling functions.
Foreign secondments aim to promote the entrepreneurial, creative and independent qualities of the employee. Intercultural training helps in this regard. These assignments focus not only on performing important tasks, but also on fostering the professional development, expertise and personal training of identified high-potential employees.
Slovenia is an attractive location due to its importance in the group and its central location in Europe. It is therefore not surprising that the exchange of employees in Controlling via secondments between Slovenia and the company headquarters in Germany functions very well in both directions.

Glöckner: Finally, how would you complete the following sentence: Slovenia is for MAHLE ... 
Jan-Frederek Thiele: ... an important and promising location on the MAHLE map under our dual corporate strategy.
Benjamin Hödl: ... an important building block for the growth strategy of the Mechatronics and Electronics Business Unit thanks to its well-trained staff.

ACC Adriatic Controlling Conference: The first and central ICV event in South-East Europe

The first ACC was organized in 1999 in Ljubljana, Slovenia. ACC is one of the older ones in the ICV community and definitely the first one in the South-East Europe region. Since then, many participants from Slovenia and abroad attend this high-profile event every year. ACC brings together managers, financiers, accountants, IT professionals and many others who believe that attending a conference is a unique opportunity to learn from the best. This is a practice-to-practice conference.

The mission of the annual controlling conference is to present new trends in controlling, learn about and transfer European good practice and modern methods of business improvement, exchange experiences with participants and lecturers from Slovenia and Europe, open new and current topics, and above all pleasant socializing for all to whom controlling means a tool to guide and help navigate the path to success and good results.

More about the past ACC

ACC Impressions 

Short facts about investors, automotive industry, geography and COVID

Attractive for investors

Slovenia has still the pole position in terms of foreign investments, however the competition is increasingly high. Other countries of this region also compete for international investors and they made progress. New EU member states like Romania, Bulgaria or candidates like Serbia also offer attractive locations for investors, some with less costs.

The Industrial production is with more than 35 % the most important sector for investors, mainly automotive and relative supplier, pharma sector and nutrition. But the Finance sector and Trade are also very important areas for investors in Slovenia.

The Automotive industry in Slovenia - a success story

The Slovenian automotive industry contributes with an annual turnover of about 7,5 Billion Euro to 10 % of the BIP of the Slovenian industry. Automotive enterprises in Slovenia are quite export oriented, the share of this industry to the total country exports amounts to more that 20 %. About 100 Tier 1 and 2 suppliers, but also more than about 600 Tier 3 suppliers are active in the market. More than 25.000 people are employed in that sector.

In Slovenia like worldwide, the automotive industry is actually in a deep transformation process towards electric drive systems. It is regarded as a key success factor to participate on important technological and innovative trends.

Logistics – geographic advantages count

Logistics are another main area of activity, due to the central geography of the country. Situated between the Alps and the Adria, Slovenia is the door towards South-Eastern and South Europe. The main Baltic, Adriatic and Pan European axes cross Slovenia. Furthermore, Slovenia has with Koper one of the most important ports of the Adriatic region. This port is also of high importance for Austria. Street and Rail infrastructure are above European average. The density of the streets may be described as excellent. Slovenia is well aware of its outstanding position in terms of geographical location and therefore has established a solid know how in Logistics.

In 2019 the touristic business amounted to around 2,89 Billion Euro, which represents around 6 % of the BIP of the Slovenian economy.

Covid pandemic in Slovenia

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the long trend of economic growth came to a sudden end, like in almost any other country. Slovenia had to face a massive slump of BIP of about 6 % in 2020 compared to an average growth rate of 3,9 % in prior years. For the near future, the forecasts are favorable up to 4,7 % for 2021 and 5,2 % for 2022, provided that the country will manage and overcome the pandemic situation as soon as possible.

Slovenia in charts and figures: Click on the pictures in the gallery to enlarge them

Sources for this site