UMD Announces 2014 Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 Under 40

The United Macedonian Diaspora (UMD) is pleased to announce its 2014 Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 Under 40. UMD sought out nominations for forty rising stars of Macedonian heritage who are rocking their field of expertise as diverse as technology, business, real estate, medical field, finance, teaching, arts, law, and believe it or not, government. The process was done solely on nominations, and then a team of dedicated UMD members made the final selections.

The 40 Under 40 initiative was built to celebrate and promote the leaders that have excelled and endorse them as role models for our communities.

Launching the list, UMD Indiana Representative and 40 Under 40 Coordinator Argie N. Bellio stated: “These are the best of the best in our community; they are highly driven, productive and talented Macedonians. It’s not only important to recognize them for what they’ve accomplished but to showcase them as leaders to learn from.”

UMD sincerely hopes this list will motivate these forty stars to continue making accomplishments in their respective careers and continue being proud of their Macedonian heritage and helping Macedonian causes. UMD also believes this list will provide positive role models for future generations of Macedonians, especially our student population.

UMD has a goal to conduct this 40 Under 40 List on a bi-annual basis.

To contact anyone of our 40 Under 40 for media interviews, please contact [email protected] or (202) 350-9798.

Please enjoy reading about the Macedonian Diaspora’s 40 under 40.

Dr. Tanja Angelovska

Age: 32

Heritage:

From my experience, I can say that persistent, hard work and networking are rather the driving force that can make you realize your goals. But, one thing is for sure: a Macedonian surname helps you to be noticed! For example, whenever I attend a national or international event, be it a scientific conference, symposium or a reception; where every guest receives a name card with a surname and an affiliated institution, and I engage in interesting conversation, people become curious to find out why my surname is not a German one though the affiliated institution is German…These are very interesting situations in which I am proud to talk about my heritage and my homeland, and to promote Macedonia.

For young Macedonians pursuing a similar career path, be open for new ideas, think big, be critical, build big networks, work smart and most importantly act small.

Biography:

Dr Tanja Angelovska was born in Stip, Macedonia, and raised in Vinica, Macedonia. After finishing high school in Skopje, she moved to Germany to study “Applied Linguistics and Media didactics”. She holds a PhD from Ludwig Maximilians University in Munich, Germany. She is working at the University of Munich as a post-doc researcher in Psycholinguistics. Dr. Angelovska has received several grants and awards for her work from funding bodies, such as DAAD, Friedrich Ebert Foundation and a prestigious postdoc research fellowship from the Leverhulme Trust in 2012 that she used to spend 9 months in the School of Humanities and Social Science, University of Greenwich (UK). Currently, she is involved in several national and international research projects.

Pero Antić

Age: 32

Heritage:

Click HERE to watch Pero on the Macedonian Heritage Hour in Toronto, where 800 plus fans of Macedonian heritage came out to support him.

Biography:

Antić is a Macedonian professional basketball player who currently plays for the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA. He is the first native of Macedonia to play in the NBA. He was also a member and captain of the Macedonian national basketball team.

Antić was born in Skopje, Macedonia and is a supporter of Belgrade club Red Star, where he also played from 2005–2007. Antić married his wife Ružica, who has the same birthday as he does, in 2006. They have a son named Luka. After the EuroBasket 2011 in Lithuania, Pero Antić was awarded with the Honoris causa academic title, by FON University in Skopje. Pero is labeled as Macedonia’s new global icon, uniting Macedonians worldwide in support of him, everytime he plays.

Dr. Nadezda Apostolova

Age: 36

Heritage:

I have always been extremely proud to be Macedonian, both when I lived in Macedonia and since moving to Spain. Unfortunately, many Macedonians are unaware of the real value of Macedonia and its schooling system, specifically its higher education. Consequently, it is not until Macedonians move away and compare themselves with colleagues and co-workers that they realize the solid grounding we have in general knowledge, rational thinking, knowledge of foreign languages, etc. In this context, I consider being a Macedonian in a western EU country to be a clear advantage. Not only was my basic knowledge solid enough to be competitive in a foreign setting, but also my adaptive skills were strong and my views regarding cultural, religious, political and other issues much broader. I consider all these values to form part of my Macedonian heritage and to have been crucial in developing a successful career abroad. I fully encourage Macedonians to pursue a career path similar to mine, and to be ambitious and persistent. Moreover, in the same way that I have been inspired by fellow countrymen/women, my message to other Macedonians abroad is to never cease to be ambassadors of our country and its values.

Biography:

Nadezda Apostolova has devoted her career to the study of the cell mechanisms involved in the side effects ascribed to Efavirenz, one of the most used antiretroviral drugs for AIDS treatment. She has been a pioneer in the description of a new mechanism of toxicity. Nadezda Apostolova got a degree in biological sciences, specializing in biochemistry, in 2001 at a public university in Macedonia. She won the extraordinary mention for having the best average mark of the faculty in the last twenty years.

Later, she studied in a doctorate program and finished her doctoral thesis at Universitat de València thanks to a lecturers training grant (FPU) of the Valencian Ministry of Education (2003-2008). Then, she began to work as a post-doctoral researcher for CIBERehd (CIBER for liver and digestive diseases, 2008-2011). In the last two years, Nadezda has won several post-doctoral contracts at public calls like the contract for the sub-program Juan de la Cierva that links her to Departament de Farmacologia at Facultat de Medicina. Recently, she has published many papers and co-supervised some doctoral theses.

Ljupka Arsova

Age: 31

Heritage:

Strength and determination are the epithets of a small nation, and we carry it in our Macedonian genes. Those characteristics have supported me through my career and personal battles, got me to the level I am today and will lead me to the level I want to be. As for the young Macedonians all I have to say is knowledge is one thing but to believe in yourself and unconditional dedication to your goal is what will help you achieve your dreams.

Biography:

Ljupka is a young, talented, enthusiastic, energetic and passionate consultant for renewable energy from waste technologies at Gershman, Bricker and Bratton Inc. With more than 8 years of international experience in the industry and academia she is one of the youngest experts and entrepreneurs in her field. On a daily basis she is responsible for technical and financial due diligence of energy from waste and alternative waste conversion projects for private companies and public entities. She is managing and advancing a unique database of conversion technologies on the U.S. market and worldwide; and leading the company’s business development efforts in the sustainable food waste management field.

Previously, Ljupka has been involved in improving the solid waste management practices worldwide as a program manager at the Cason Family Foundation, part of the Clinton Global Initiative. She also brings extensive experience from the academia as research associate and project manager with the Earth Engineering Center at Columbia University in the City of New York. As part of her previous assignments she has assisted in developing sustainable waste management systems nationwide including the City of Cleveland, Prince William County, Prince Georges County, North East Maryland, City of Charlotte; as well as the national organization such as American Chemistry Council and the Flexible Packaging Association in advancing their efforts in sustainable energy and material recovery of plastic waste.

Ljupka has established herself as a published author in national and international, professional and pier reviewed magazines such as: Waste Management World, BioCycle, Renewable Energy from Waste magazine, MSW Management; Speaker and moderator on the national and international conferences such as: North American Waste to Energy Conference (NAWTEC); Renewable Energy from Organic Recycling (REFOR), Renewable Energy from Waste (REW); Regional and national recycling associations conferences, Anaerobic Digestion Conference and Expo, Waste-to-Fuel conference, etc. Ljupka also contributes to the work of the following professional organizations: Global Waste to Energy Research and Technology Council (GlobalWTERT), Energy Recovery Council, US Composting Council.

Ljupka holds an M.S. degree in Earth and Environmental Engineering from Columbia University in the City of New York where she was a Research Fellowship Recipient of the Global Waste-to-Energy Research and Technology Council (WTERT); B. S. & M.S. degrees in Ecology and Environmental Protection form the University of Belgrade, Serbia; and Young Master’s Degree in Sustainable Development from Lund University, Sweden.

Atanas Nikola Atanasov

Age: 33

Heritage:

My Macedonian heritage plays a very important role in my life. It defines me as a person and it influences my behavior on a daily basis. At the core, Macedonian values highlight fairness, education, courage, care, love, loyalty, respect, and most importantly honesty. I was fortunate enough to grow up surrounded with all of the above values, thanks to my parents and grandparents. Because of these values, I am always striving to be the best person and to advance in my career.

My father is an electrical engineer and my mother is a doctor, but I have decided to follow my father’s work closely my whole life. His career choice influenced me a great deal. In Macedonia, you are able to choose a discipline in high school. By choosing a school that was focused on technology, I fell more in love with the ins, outs, and workings of things. With this early focus in education, I was able to fine tune my skills and focus on IT in college and graduate school, ultimately leading me to a rewarding career in computer science and engineering.

Coming from an educated and hard working family, I learned that finding a balance between work and life has helped me immensely to become a more successful individual. I have always believed that anything is possible, and that if you work hard, you are in charge of your own career. Education is one of the most important things in life, therefore I was never reluctant to travel the world, and get the best education possible.

In the end, it all boils down to the fine example my parents and grandparents set out for my sister and me. We are now living by that example and always finding new ways to be the best we can be, both personally and professionally. Growing up in Macedonia as a child, it might seem as though, things like traveling abroad, getting a college education, much less a graduate degree, might seem too lofty. But let me say that all these things are possible with hard work, dedication and perseverance! These are keys to a successful life and career. If you see something you want, don’t be afraid to go for it. Research ways to make it happen. You might have people around you, even family telling you that you can’t do this or that. It’s vital that you don’t take that to heart and follow your dreams.

One of the most positive experiences I had growing up, was participating in the high school exchange program. This allowed me to see other opportunities that were past my back door. I was able to expand my horizons and education.

Biography:

Atanas was born in Skopje, Macedonia on April 28, 1980. He is the son of Nikola and Marija Atanasovi. Atanas has one older sister, Vesna.

From an early age, Atanas, whose father often talked to him about electrical engineering, wanted to make a career out of it. He worked hard and became serious about engineering and attended Louisiana State University and graduated in 2004 with a degree in Information Systems. After graduation he was offered a job at Beauvoir, The National Cathedral Elementary School as Network Engineer. In 2008, seeking to serve his community, he became a volunteer for the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). In 2011, he attended graduate school at Chalmers University of Technology in Gothenburg, Sweden. In 2013, he graduated with a degree in Computer Science and Engineering.

Today, Atanas works at Accenture as an Information Technology Consultant in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Area. In his free time he flies Sirrus SR20’s and is working on his Professional Pilot License. Atanas’ wife, Leslie is a graduate of University of Mississippi (Ole Miss). They were married in Rockville, Maryland in 2005 and live in North Bethesda, Maryland. The couple has one daughter, Lessie Angelina (b. 2012) and they are also expecting twins this summer.

Jenna Bitove (Naumovich)

Age: 29

Heritage:

Jenna’s motivation is instilled from her familiar Macedonian background. As the granddaughter to John and Dotsa Bitove, she has learned at an early age that if you are proud of your roots, you will be confident and grounded. She believes the strength that inspired her great grandparents to leave an oppressed country, come to Canada as pioneers and build a thriving Macedonian community will ultimately enlighten more generations. She hopes to motivate young Macedonians to follow their dreams and achieve all of their goals.

Biography:

Jenna Naumovich is a brave personality. A third generation Canadian with strong Macedonian heritage, she has the unique combination of fashion stylist and artistic skill. Her mother, Vonna Bitove, who encouraged her to believe in her dreams, raised Jenna in Toronto, Canada. Jenna attended University of Western where she majored in Women Studies. Following her graduation, she eventually followed her heart and her passion into fashion. She was instrumental in the start up of the uptown boutique, Canopy Blue and this was later followed by the opportunity to work at the Hudson’s Bay Company in their exclusive area, “The Room” as a stylist. The Hudson’s Bay Company also owns Lord and Taylor as well as Saks Fifth Avenue.

Using fashion as her medium, Jenna has travelled the world in pursuit of inspiration for her work. Either through artists, local people, music or culture, her curiosity is always paramount. She encourages her clients to open their minds to new ideas. Volunteering for several charities as well as selected for Toronto Life Magazine 2013, Most Influential are a few of Jenna’s interests and accomplishments outside the workplace. Famous Figures that have encountered Jenna’s style: Shay Mitchell, Kanye West, Suzanne Rogers, Sylvia Mantella, Kim Cattrall, Jessica Chastain.

Dan Bucevski

Age: 36

Heritage:

In terms of how my Macedonian heritage has helped me with the career/personal path, I would say that it taught me to stay on the path, believe in myself, and to be persistent. To all the fellow Macedonians that are interested in the field of investment management/wealth management, I would say go for it and please contact me if you have any questions or need advice.

Biography:

Dan Bucevski is a Managing Partner and a Co-Founder of Preston Wealth Advisors, and in that capacity drives the implementation and execution of the firm’s strategy. Preston Wealth Advisors is an independent private wealth management firm with offices in Arlington, VA, Miami, FL and New York, NY. Preston Wealth Advisors currently manages over $150 million in clients’ assets applying insights and risk management expertise to help individual and institutional investors with their financial goals. Before Preston, he founded Astor Advisory Group in 2008 to provide full service, value-added strategic and fundraising assistance to private equity and other alternative asset managers. Bucevski focused on marketing client funds and new business development. He also played a key role in helping clients to structure and position their funds in the market place. Prior to AAG, Bucevski was with Marco Polo Partners, a boutique investment-banking firm founded by former Lehman Brothers executives, focusing on cross-border corporate finance advisory services.

At MPP, Bucevski built a private fund placement practice and was responsible for the distribution of private equity secondary and venture capital funds. Previously, he was a co-founder and the President of Havens, a luxury destination club, where he was responsible for business strategies, real estate acquisitions, finance, sales, and marketing. He also worked as a FX analyst at Bank of America in their Boston office.

Bucevski completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance and Accounting from St. Cyril and Methodius University – Skopje, Macedonia, a Master of Business Administration (MBA) from Florida State University School of Business, and Master of Liberal Arts Finance (MsLAF) from Harvard University. Dan is currently enrolled at the Owner/President Program (OPM) at the Harvard Business School. He holds his Series 7, 65 and 63 securities licenses.

Genoveva Christoff

Age: 37

Heritage:

Macedonian people are very fashion conscious. How people carry and present themselves in Macedonia is very important. Women want to dress up and look good anywhere they go. There, it’s not about comfort, it’s about wearing something fashionable, and up to date. Growing up in that kind of environment made me fall in love in fashion and develop an initial fashion sense.

My message to the young Macedonians pursuing a similar career path will be: love and be passionate about what you are doing, have a very strong work ethic and don’t give up when it gets hard. To be a good designer you need to be talented and have a good fashion sense. But, what I’m learning is, to have a successful clothing line it takes even more, you need to have knowledge in business. Only 1% of the fashion brands are succeeding because there is big competition, so you have to give your best. If you don’t live in a Fashion Capital City it is harder to succeed, but I believe it’s not impossible. Today, with the globalization, Internet and all the social media communication, anyone can make it and from everywhere.

Biography:

Fashion Designer Geneveva Christoff lives in and loves the fashion world. Born in Macedonia, she immigrated to the United States and studied design at Columbus College of Art & Design (CCAD) in Columbus, Ohio graduating in 2009 with a BA in Fashion Design. While employed by a local company Genoveva successfully developed concept designs for a number of major brands such as Victoria’s Secret, DSW, Bloomingdales, Ralph Lauren, Chico’s/White House/Black Market, Henri Bendel, Armani, and L’Oreal/Lancome. She showed her first collection at Fashion Week Columbus 2011, designing clothes for Fall 2012.

Shortly after her first fashion show, Genoveva and three other designers from all over the nation, were handpicked by Diet Pepsi to show their looks at Diet Pepsi Style Studio Show at Lincoln Center Feb. 9, 2012. The show was presented by Simon Doonan and attended by celebrities including Mary Kate Olsen, Debra Messisng, Angela Simmons, Jay Manuel, Jay Alexander, Jonathan Adler and others. After the unveiling, designers’ looks were displayed at Lincoln Center for the duration of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week (February 10 – 16).

Also, in Feb. 2012 she won second place (First Runners-up prize) for Adrianna Papell for E! Live from the Red Carpet design contest, from a total of 676 dress designs. Her designs, made of the finest of fabrics, are fashion forward and chic as well as feminine and sophisticated. She creates unique attire for sophisticated young women who are fashion-savvy with impeccable style and intelligent women with social influences that are always seeking exciting new designs.

This year, in addition to her clothing line, she created an accessories line embellished with beautiful laser cut in collaboration with Conus Laser Group. Genoveva lives with her husband and two children in Columbus, Ohio where she enjoys the social activities and events of this vibrant community.

Mirce Curkoski

Age: 34

Heritage:

Growing up in a Macedonian society has influenced me in many ways. Moreover, being born and raised in a traditional family has shaped me into the person I am today – I have certainly inherited discipline and integrity. I have always believed in treating others the way that I would like to be treated. I am proud to say I am Macedonian.

Choose a career path that is something you want to specialize in. Work hard on it until you become the best. It will pay off sooner than you think. Learn from others and ask questions. Every mistake is an opportunity to learn and even if you fall at a certain point do not give up.

Biography:

Mirce Curkoski was born in Struga, Macedonia on September 4, 1979. The first half of his life he spent living in Macedonia and the other half in United States. He finished elementary and secondary school in “Braka Miladinovci”, attended high school in Niko Nestor in Struga, and graduated in Lemont High School in Chicago. He attended College of Dupage in Chicago. He has always loved soccer and continues to play in my free time.

He first owned a transport company in Chicago and later moved to Florida to open a restaurant, which was a favorite for many people. After a few years, he got a very good offer to sell the business, which he couldn’t reject.

Somehow real estate always attracted Curkoski. After buying and selling a couple of properties, he knew that he could make a living that way. The luxury market became his subject of interest. Carlos Justo, one of the best real estate agents, was his mentor. He then chose to work for One Sotheby’s and now specializes in properties worth $2 million and up, and does business with celebrities and the business community.

Brian Cvetkovski

Age: 26

Heritage:

My Macedonian heritage has helped me in my professional career and personal path tremendously, the ability to understand a different culture and know a second language growing up in the United States, it set me apart from others, as well as being in Detroit with such a large population of Macedonians, I was able to develop a natural target market and support system for going into business and starting my financial practice. Joining UMAD (United Macedonian Americans of Detroit) and being close with UMD (United Macedonian Diaspora) it further strengthened my commitment and passion to embrace my Macedonian Heritage and to help me continue our culture into future generations.

A message for young Macedonians, embrace your culture! Don’t be afraid to be different and stand out! Many of our families back home don’t have the opportunities we are exposed to here in the United States, don’t let it go to waste, don’t be afraid to fail – follow your passions, make your family proud and strive to achieve great moments. Also, stay active at your church, it is something I wish I could have done more of, we are the future generations, let’s bring pride to our Macedonian name.

Biography:

Brian Cvetkovski, a first generation American and son to immigrant parents from Macedonia, was born and raised in the Detroit area where his father worked and retired from a General Motors factory in Hamtramck and his mother working for a local school district. Raised in a blue-collar home, it gave him much appreciation and love for the Motor City. Graduate of the public school system and also a graduate holding a BBA and having the entrepreneur spirit, he was always trying new ventures including purchasing a foreclosed home after high school. After failing to settle on a business idea, he enrolled at Walsh College to pursue his MBA/MSF, where career services helped him gain a career in the financial services industry.

At age 24 he started his own financial practice in the Detroit area. Growing up experiencing the financial strains a family goes through being in a blue collar home, and especially here in Detroit where families rely on the Big “Three” (GM, Chrysler, and Ford), he knew he found his passion, to help people achieve their financial goals and protect their families. Brian, a community advocate, is an engaged member of the Detroit Regional Chamber, Board of Directors for DYP (Detroit Young Professionals), Young Leader at the Detroit Economic Club, Vice President at UMAD (United Macedonians of Detroit), and member to various chambers of commerce. As for the future, he vows to stay committed to his three passions – continue building his financial practice in his community and strive to leave a multi-generational imprint on the lives that he helps, his Macedonian heritage and Detroit, where he plans on building his family and business.

Avni Dika

Age: 37

Heritage:

I would say that my Macedonian heritage helped me a lot both, from a career and personal path perspective as I think both aspects are linked to each other. Coming from a – commercially – poor country in the beginning I had the feeling and perception that – as a Macedonian – I had to be much better or outperform a “comparable” German person to receive the same level of respect and appreciation; which was very important for me. Hence, as a motivated person I had to work hard for that right from the beginning. Coupled with some level of talent and discipline I managed to be very successful in school, sport [was at the end of my career also the president of my sports club for 6 years)] and now finally in my profession. I would say that I am now at a level, which – as a kid and young student – I thought is not possible for me. I.e. probably without this additional “pressure” I would be at a different professional and personnel level. And to be honest (independent of this great 40/40 project) I’m very proud so say to my German (and now Swiss) friends and colleagues that I’m originally from Macedonia and that we have also smart people and talents and not be only known and perceived as people who are able to do only routine jobs [is unfortunately still the perception of many people here]. We need just the right commercial opportunities and environment.

I encourage all young Macedonians (in any place) also to go the “extra mile” and be disciplined and demonstrate that we have many, many other great people in our country, and at the same time not forget where we come from.

Biography:

With 14 years experience in his field and a result driven, dynamic business leader with good communication and team development skills, Dika is currently the Senior Group Tax Manager and Head of Global Transfer Pricing for Syngenta International AG, located in Basel, Switzerland. Previously, he held senior management and consulting positions with DaimlerChrysler/Daimler AG, Deloitte, and Arthur Andersen, all located in Stuttgart, Germany, where he used to reside. He completed some of his practical training during his studies at Ernst & Young in Sttutgart, Germany, KPMG in Frankfurt, Germany, and Ernst & Young in Cardiff, United Kingdom. He is a specialist in international, German, and Swiss tax law.

In 2009, he became a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) from the CFA Institute in Charlottesville. In 2000, Dika completed a Master of Business Administration and in 2001 Master of Business Law & Taxation, both from the University of Mannheim, Germany. His Master Thesis focused on “Transfer Pricing in Germany and UK – A comparative analysis on the basis of the OECD-Guidelines.” In 1997-1998, he was an exchange student at the European Business Management School at the University of Wales.

Since 2007, Dika has been a member of a Working Committee “Transfer Pricing” managed by the trade organization“AWV” in Frankfurt/Germany (Arbeitsgemeinschaft für wirtschaftliche Verwaltung e.V.) and is a frequent speaker about international tax in seminars, conferences and universities.

Dika, originally from Struga, Macedonia, moved with his family to Germany when he was 6 years old, and now lives in Basel, Switzerland with his wife and three children.

Blaze Dimov

Age: 35

Heritage:

Click HERE for a special interview we did with Dimov back in January.

Biography:

Blaze Dimov, the President of Realington and Principal of Realington Capital, is responsible for property acquisitions and dispositions as well as overall investment strategy. A graduate of George Mason University, Blaze began his career in the construction and real estate industries seven years ago and for the last six he has been a licensed real estate professional and an active investor, specializing in short sale and foreclosure transactions. Blaze holds a Distressed Property Expert Certification (DPEC) and Short Sales and Foreclosure Resource (SFR) certification.

Sophie Evanoff

Age: 31

Heritage:

Macedonians are a people of wonderful character and are very industrious. We are a people who believe in, value, and take much pride in the importance of history and traditions. My Macedonian heritage has instilled four major beliefs:
1. Do things that make you proud. When you do work that you are proud of, you will always find reward in what you do.
2. Have patience. Patience for your coworkers, your boss, your future employees, your customers, your family and friends, and most importantly for yourself. We are human and all make mistakes.
3. Listen to your intuition. You will know when the right opportunity presents itself. And if it is meant to be, it will be.
4. Be Adaptive. You will be faced with situations you do not like and do not want to do. But will not have a choice. Just find a way to make it work for you.

You can check out a speech Evanoff delivered at a UMD luncheon in Detroit back in April 2014 by clicking HERE.

Biography:

Sophie Evanoff is the President and CEO of Vanille Patisserie and is a first generation Macedonian. She is responsible for business planning, new product development, sales and marketing. During her short tenure at Vanille, she has been recognized as an innovator and uniquely skilled at making change happen. With a focus on growth, quality and customer satisfaction, she has achieved 100% sales volume increases in just two years. Her initiatives have been recognized by several leading publications in the Chicago area.

Vanille is a premier provider of luxury French pastries of exceptional quality and unique product design. Vanille provides a variety of carefully crafted creations, delicious entremets (mousse cakes) and luscious tarts. Vanille is recognized as having the No. 1 Macaroons and Croissants in Chicago. Recently under Sophie’s leadership Vanille announced the creation of its new custom wedding and special occasion cake division. These cakes combine the classic European traditions with modern inspirations to elevate the creative vision of any event. Vanille presently has three retail locations serving the heart of Chicago.

Prior to acquiring Vanille in 2011, Sophie’s work experience included production and manufacturing, customer service, quality control, marketing and leadership roles with several Michigan and Chicago based companies. She is a quick learner, team player, and a self-motivated individual who takes initiative on all fronts in order to achieve the desired results.

Sophie holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Michigan and is a graduate of Chicago’s internationally renowned French Pastry School. She is also actively involved with several non-profit organizations to raise funds for needy children. Sophie’s family on her father’s side immigrated to the United States from Prilep, Macedonia in 1955. Sophie was born and raised in Troy, Michigan, where she actively participated in the Macedonian community at St. Clement Orthodox Church. Her passion is Macedonian music and dancing.

Lidija L. Franklin

Age: 36

Heritage:

During my career I have been greatly involved in development and assistance projects with different international organizations helping developing countries transition and adopt liberal democracy values. Born in Macedonia and raised on different locations across the former Yugoslavia, I had experienced the pitfalls of the transition and the challenges that people, especially our young generations, face during these unfortunate times. Understanding this dynamic has helped me appreciate the cultural narratives of stakeholders whom I have been involved in my professional career, as well as tailor an approach that depicts the challenges of the transition not as a mere ‘destination’ but a ‘journey’, which requires skilled individuals at the helm with demonstrated leadership, talent, integrity and persistence to endure on this journey. Hence, my message to our young generations applies to both – the personal and professional journeys – and is nicely captured in Christopher Columbus saying: “You can never cross the ocean unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Biography:

Lidija L. Franklin manages the ‘Franklin & Asaya’ start-up, a consultancy practice in the MENA region, advising companies on sustainability and best practices in corporate social responsibility. She holds a Master Degree in Public Administration from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, a Master Degree in International Relations and European Studies from Central European University in Budapest and B.Sc degree in Business Administration from University Ss. Cyril and Methodius in Macedonia.

Franklin served in various capacities of escalating responsibility with the Booz Allen Hamilton’s Defense Modernization and Transformation Team, which is focused on the U.S. Government National, Defense and Military Security Assistance and Cooperation goals with Western Balkans. Most recently, she served as Defense Resource Management Specialist, advising Macedonian Ministry of Defense and the U.S. Embassy Office of Defense Cooperation in areas pertaining to defense planning and resource management, NATO integration, security sector reform and gender mainstreaming in peace and security. Franklin is a recipient of multiple awards and fellowships, including the Harvard University – Edward S. Mason, Harvard’s Women in Public Policy, Open Society Institute Scholarship and is among the few Macedonian recipients of the Kokkalis Foundation Fellowship. She will be joining the Woodrow Wilson Center as a resident scholar for the Global Europe Program this fall, working on gender mainstreaming of the security sector reform in the Western Balkans.

Natasha Garrett

Age: 39

Heritage:

Coming from Macedonia to the U.S. as an undergraduate student, I was thankful for receiving a secondary education in my home country that prepared me for the challenges of being a student in the U.S. As someone who works in the field of international education, my Macedonian heritage and personal experience allows me to assist international students effectively, and to have the openness and curiosity to connect with people from various parts of the world. Being bilingual and working on literary translations has reaffirmed my commitment to promoting Macedonian culture abroad. Many people I meet in my professional and personal life are curious about Macedonia, and it is my pleasure and my privilege to introduce them to our country.

Biography:

Natasha Garrett was born in Skopje, Macedonia on May 4, 1974. She came to the United States as an undergraduate student at La Roche College, Pittsburgh PA. She obtained her Master’s degree in English Literature from Duquesne University and her PhD in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education from the University of Pittsburgh. She is currently the Director of International Student Services at La Roche College and an adjunct professor in the ESL Department.

Dr. Garrett is active in the global Pittsburgh community. She has served as a translator and interpreter, as a volunteer to welcome recent U.S. citizens and as a liaison between international students and their respective national/ethnic groups in the area. She regularly presents at regional and national conferences on topics related to international education and cross-cultural communication. She worked on translating contemporary Macedonian poetry with her mother-in-law, the poet Nola Garret. Arts and Letters, Christian Century and Able Muse published selections of the translations.

Sase Gjorsovski

Age: 39

Heritage:

Growing up in Macedonia, specifically in Ohrid, was an amazing experience for me. The love from family and the very close friendships that Macedonians create have helped me tremendously to be a very warm and welcoming person. This gave me the gift of knowing how to touch people’s hearts. I would say that is a key for success for any one young Macedonian making a career in the Hospitality business.

On one occasion I was walking the streets of my father’s village Slatino with the then Ambassador of the EU in Macedonia. As we walked from door to door and the people welcomed us and he turned around and told me: “You are very blessed to have come from a place like this”.

Biography:

Sase was born in Ohrid, Republic of Macedonia. Gjorsovski holds an Associate of Arts and Sciences (AAS), in Hospitality Management from the Faculty of Tourism and Hospitality in Ohrid and Bachelors of Arts (BA) in Organizational Leadership from St. Thomas University, Miami, FL.

He is an award-winning general manager and business strategist with two decades of hospitality management experience with core competencies in pre-openings, growth, and business turnarounds; first-class guest service; revenue growth; food & beverage services; spa services; hotel and condominium operations.

He is a hospitality executive with proven results at initiating and developing strategic partnerships and alliances for successful negotiation and leadership in change strategies for transforming organizations. As an active member of the Miami community Sase is on the Board of Governors, of the Miami Beach Chamber of Commerce, and on the Board of Directors for Greater Miami and the Beaches Hotel Association.

He also participates as an invited Speaker on the subject of Managing Diversity in Organizations and HR Practices in the Hospitality Industry at the Workshop for Human Resource Administration, School of Adult and Continuous Education at Barry University in Miami Shores, FL.

Steve Glaveski

Age: 30

Heritage:

My Macedonian heritage and upbringing has helped me rise above social conventions, become resilient and approach both business and life with lateral vision and my feet firmly planted on the ground.

The story of the Macedonian people is one, sadly, that is not widely known, but essentially boils down to a people who have withstood centuries of persecution and marginalization, only to have their identity in tact today. With a culture that stresses tradition and family above all else, being raised in a Macedonian household has left me valuing relationships above all else, be they personal or professional.

My message to young Macedonians who are looking to embark upon the entrepreneurial path is ultimately one of self-belief. It would be a shame for a young Macedonian, whose ancestors withstood much harsher livelihoods, to sit back, take a risk averse view of life, fear failure and waste their days away on a 9-5 they hate and TV shows that weaken the mind.

There is no shame in failure but there is shame in wanting to do something but not having the conviction in your own abilities and the courage to try. You can’t possibly be the best at everything but you can sure be your best at anything so figure out where your passion lies and go after it, because you will only perform your best if you are passionate about your work. Stop being afraid and dive into the deep end, chances are you’ll quickly learn how to swim – you’ll have no other choice. It’s all about taking that first step off the springboard.

Life is too short to merely sit back, go through the motions and let father time take you away. Either dream big and take chances or stop dreaming, the choice is yours.

Biography:

Steve Glaveski, 30, from Melbourne, Australia, is a former management consultant turned Internet entrepreneur, writer and founder of Hotdesk.com.au.

With qualifications in Business Information Systems, Accounting and Audit, Steve began his career with business intelligence company Dun & Bradstreet before moving on to join the Victorian Auditor General’s Office (VAGO). At VAGO, he played a pivotal role in scrutinizing the State of Victoria’s annual budgets and financial reports and contributed to State Parliamentary reports on economic sustainability and information security. Seeking greater challenges, Steve moved on to the global big four accounting firm Ernst & Young (EY) where he played the role of risk management consultant and helped clients improve their process and controls landscape. He single handedly identified an opportunity, which went on to save a then struggling NASDAQ-listed client several million dollars on financial control related procedures.

After almost three years with EY, Steve joined the Risk Management group at Australia’s largest investment bank, Macquarie Group, where he was given oversight over the systems and infrastructure supporting key business units such as funds management, fixed interest, currencies and commodities and retail banking. His time with Macquarie Bank saw him work in both India and the Philippines where he was responsible with providing oversight over the bank’s offshored IT operations.

Despite this forward momentum, Steve’s underlying passion and desire had always been pulling him towards a life of entrepreneurship, where he could solve problems, create and generate new value, rather than oversee what had already been created before him. Having previously run a nightclub, Steve’s second foray into business saw him bootstrap and launch HotDesk in mid-2013 while still employed by Macquarie Bank. HotDesk focuses on connecting businesses that have surplus office or meeting room space with businesses that need it, on flexible terms.

Building HotDesk while working for Macquarie required sacrifice and discipline as most of his spare time was spent working on the business and becoming a serial networker. Within three months of the July 2013 launch date, HotDesk had received mainstream media attention in Australia’s largest business publications such as the Financial Review and The Australian who see the concept as an innovative way to optimise distressed office space and make professional, collaborative space more affordable for start-ups.

This exposure caught the attention of prominent angel investors and HotDesk was able to secure a seed funding round shortly thereafter. This enabled Steve to take on HotDesk on a full-time basis in November 2013, waving goodbye to Macquarie Bank. HotDesk is now working aggressively on business development as it aims to become a key player in the shared office space and co-working movement in the Asia Pacific region.

Steve believes that life is too short to sit around watching TV and concedes that while you can’t be the best at everything, you can be your best at anything and that failing is a lot better than never having the guts to try. Outside of the office, Steve enjoys a wide variety of activities and is an advocate of the early morning workout (he trains six days a week). He also likes to read financial thrillers and business books, writes for numerous publications such as Shoestring, Shareable and his own blog on all things co-working and business, enjoys the occasional corporate triathlon, taking part in charity fundraisers and fun-runs, skateboarding by the beach, checking out live bands (believe it or not, he loves heavy metal), watching football (the Socceroos and the Western Sydney Wanderers) and spending quality time over a barbecue and a beer or two with family and friends.

Marija Gligorova

Age: 40

Heritage:

The warmth of my Macedonian heritage has given me the drive to succeed in America. When I first came to the United States, I was in my senior year in High School, and during the first month of my stay I was asked to give a presentation about Macedonia in front of nearly sixty people for the Rotary Club. My English was not great and I didn’t know much about public speaking, but I remember leaving that presentation feeling PROUD to be MACEDONIAN. The audience was extremely welcoming and engaging, they couldn’t stop asking questions, and they were so eager to learn more about Macedonia and from that moment I knew that I had an obligation to succeed in life, not only for myself and for my family but also for my country. At that moment I felt the true meaning of “each person is an ambassador for his or her country” because it became clear to me that, thanks to my presentation, sixty people now knew about my country and would go and tell many others; so I felt that what I did made a difference. That presentation led to many more invitations for similar presentations, and eventually I received a college scholarship through the International Cultural Service Program; so while doing what I have a passion for—presenting my country to the world—I was also earning my degree in accounting.

Almost 15 years ago when I started my career at the largest local public accounting firm in Oregon, I continued educating my co-workers and clients about Macedonia, and soon I realized that being from Macedonia gives me a great advantage because people around me are eager to hear about it. As a result of this, my Macedonian heritage has helped me intertwine my career and personal path with spreading the word about the Macedonian culture, food, tradition, etc. Every friend/co-worker that I have made in the United States is very familiar with Ajvar and Macedonian wine 🙂 because when I introduce them to these products I always make sure that they know where they can buy them (almost every jar of Ajvar and every bottle of wine has a business card on it showing where these products can be purchased).

So what I can tell young Macedonians pursuing a similar career path is to be PROUD that you are Macedonians. Be determined to succeed in whatever goals and dreams you have in life. Any challenges you may be facing are just “hidden” opportunities. Never give up. I advise you to regularly read positive quotations. I find them fun and encouraging anytime I need some motivation. So I would leave every Macedonian at heart with this quotation from John F. Kennedy: “ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country.”

Biography:

Marija Gligorova grew up in Gevgelija, where she was born in 1973, and later lived in Skopje before immigrating to America at the age of 17. Returning to Macedonia to attend college and then moving permanently to the U.S., Marija has lived approximately 20 years in Macedonia and 20 years in the U.S.

For more than fourteen years, Marija has worked at Perkins & Co., Portland, Oregon’s largest locally based public accounting firm. She specializes in tax consulting and compliance with emphasis in pass-throughs, real estate, manufacturing, and multistate and international exposure. For nearly eight years, she has been a manager for the company. Marija has also been in charge of training in ProFx, the main tax software used at Perkins, improving the training materials and presentations. She also handled the company’s busy-season “kick off,” a one-day event that has over 100 professional participants. In addition to her accounting work, she has also run successful real estate businesses with her husband for the past ten years.

On a personal level Marija has been married for almost 20 years and has two children: Christina, who is 15, and Tom, who is 9. Both are fluent not only in English but also Chinese, having gone through Chinese immersion schools all their lives. Christina is also fluent in Macedonian and able to converse in Spanish. Tom is able to converse in Macedonian.

As a member of the International Cultural Service Program, Marija gave presentations about her native Macedonia to Lion’s Clubs, Rotary Clubs, and various church and school groups. At Portland State University, she was the Master of Ceremonies during International Nights. She has been an unselfish mentor, sharing the wisdom she has gained from her professional work, teaching co-workers at Perkins how to deal with the day-to-day demands of public accounting, especially during the busy season, and coaching them on how to become successful CPAs and business consultants. Marija is a people person who cherishes her family, co-workers, clients, and friends. And whether sharing travel stories or discussing business plans, she is always keeping communication open.

She has been a member of the National Honor Society, was recipient of the Best High School Student in American History Award, and graduated from high school with a 4.0 overall G.P.A. She also received an International Cultural Service Program Scholarship and was recognized by three universities for academic achievement. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in accounting from Portland State University in 1999 and received her CPA certification in January of 2004.

Marija is a member of numerous professional organizations, including the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Oregon Society of Certified Public Accountants.

Ivona Grimberg

Age: 36

Heritage:

My Macedonian heritage and upbringing bring a special kind of uniqueness to my character. When my peers, colleagues, friends, and family are asked to describe me, they usually say energetic, hardworking, intelligent, never gives up, and someone with high integrity. For me, that is THE definition of a Macedonian and I am proud to exhibit that every day.

My advice to young Macedonians pursuing a similar career path (or any career path) is to work the hardest you can every single day and make your Macedonian ancestors and your parents proud!

Biography:

Grimberg is an Associate with Booz Allen Hamilton, one of the leading management consulting and technology firms in the world. Grimberg is part of Booz Allen Hamilton’s Financial Services Practice in Atlanta, GA focusing on advanced business analytics, strategy and operations services to U.S. Government clients. Prior to joining Booz Allen Hamilton, Grimberg provided independent consulting services to Fortune 500 companies and also spent several years working with Fortune 500 companies as part of the International Tax Consulting practice of Ernst & Young, LLP in Atlanta.

Prior to starting her professional career, Grimberg was a Division I, Top 20 ranked collegiate tennis player, receiving a four-year full athletic scholarship. For almost 10 years, Grimberg traveled worldwide and competed on the International Junior Tennis Circuit and later on the Professional Women’s Tour, proudly representing the Republic of Macedonia.

From 2010 through 2012, Grimberg served on UMD’s Board of Directors, focusing on issues related to economic development and investments. Grimberg obtained a B.A. degree from the University of Mississippi and holds a Masters in Business Administration degree from Emory University in Atlanta, GA. She currently lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children.

Nick Ilitch

Age: 30

Heritage:

Looking back to my great Dedo Sam, he instilled values that have been carried on through generations and passed on to me through my father, my close mentor and another successful Macedonian entrepreneur in my family. The message of ‘Keep on go’ has led to many lessons about hard work and has encouraged me to challenge myself to grow personally and professionally.

In 2013, I experienced two life-changing events: First, the birth of my son, Lucas, which has forever shaped my world and I thank God for every day. Second, my brother Mike III, sister Christina and I completed the Detroit Marathon together, (none of us ever expected to complete a full marathon in our lives alone, nevertheless together). On my marathon running bib I had inscribed the phrase: ‘Keep on go.’

My message to young Macedonians is to invest your time in people, build quality relationships, give more than you receive and never let up–even when you make mistakes in life, they are designed to help you grow.

Biography:

Ilitch has charted his own path in life through business and technology and often refers to his Macedonian heritage to guide his ambition. His great-grandfather, a first-generation Macedonian-American immigrant, used to give great advice to Nick and others: “Keep on go!”

Nick’s paternal grandparents, Mike and Marian Ilitch, who are both Macedonian, founded Little Caesars Pizza in 1959 starting with one pizza store in Garden City, Michigan. The Ilitch Family since has grown Little Caesars into a multinational franchising success and have started many businesses and philanthropic endeavors including owning the Detroit Red Wings and Detroit Tigers sports teams.

As a youth Nick learned about entrepreneurship, mainly the values of hard work, humility and perseverance. Fascinated by technology, Nick began teaching himself computer programming at age 12 and started Rounded Vision web design firm at age 18. Nick started building custom websites and e-commerce applications for dozens of small to mid-sized businesses in Michigan, New York, Florida and California. During this time Nick also attended Northwood University to study international business and marketing.

Shortly after college, in 2008, Nick joined Secure-24, an IT management firm in Michigan, as a network engineer. Within a few years he was promoted into management positions after demonstrating his expertise and launching several new processes and larger customer projects. Nick has propelled into many different management roles at Secure-24 including network, security and data center management. During his time with the firm, the business has experienced tremendous growth, market expansion and acquisition. Nick continues to focus strategically in serving customers as VP of Product Management and is now responsible for overall product management and services.

Nick also serves a role within various for-profit and non-profit ventures in the community development, sports and entertainment marketing, real estate and health care industries.

He is currently taking graduate classes at Michigan State University’s MBA program and enjoys spending time with his wife, Melanie, and their son, Lucas.

Dr. Jovan R. Laskovski

Age: 32

Heritage:

My Macedonian Heritage has been the crux of my strength throughout my career. Growing up as the son of Macedonian immigrants, I was able to witness firsthand how hard work and tenacity could pay off. Growing up in a house with my parents, grandparents, aunt, uncle, brother, and cousins, I quickly learned that everyone in the family was expected to work. All of my family members worked hard to give all of us a better life here in America. It was that tenacity and toughness that I brought with me when I made the decision to become an Orthopedic Surgeon, and throughout my career it has been what I have leaned on to help me achieve my goals. My family and my wife have been incredibly supportive through all the difficult times and have been there to give me strength when I thought I had none left.

To my fellow Macedonians who wish to follow a career path in medicine, I would like to send this message. Anything is possible if you set your mind to it and have the guts to see it through. Although you will have many people throughout your life that may doubt your resolve and commitment, you can prove them wrong by working hard and focusing on your goal. Never forget that your family will always be there for you during the difficult times and that no one will be prouder of you during the good times.

Biography:

Jovan R. Laskovski, M.D. was born and raised in Canton, Ohio. He currently resides in Akron, Ohio with his wife Christina and his son Christopher (born July 2013). He is the son of Riste and Mara Laskovski and brother to Dimitar Laskovski, D.O.

Dr. Laskovski was accepted to the accelerated Bachelor of Science and Medical Doctorate Program (BS/MD) at the University of Akron and the Northeast Ohio Medical University. He graduated from University of Akron at the age of 19 with a Bachelor of Science degree with the distinction of Magna Cum Laude in two years. He then attended Northeast Ohio Medical University where he attained his Doctorate of Medicine and was accepted into the Orthopedic Surgery Residency at the Summa Health System in Akron, Ohio. He served as Chief Resident of Orthopedics and continued his education in a fellowship at the University of Chicago in Arthroscopic Surgery and Sports Medicine. Upon completion of fellowship, Dr. Laskovski began his practice in Orthopedic Surgery at the Crystal Clinic Orthopedic Center in Akron, Ohio. Dr. Laskovski is a teaching physician for the residency programs at the Summa Health System and the Akron General Medical Center in Akron, Ohio. Between the two programs, he teaches 35 Orthopedic Surgery Residents.

Dr. Laskovski has subspecialized in hip arthroscopy. He was inducted into the International Society for Hip Arthroscopy in 2013 and became one of 26 surgeons in the United States inducted into ISHA. Dr. Laskovski is an active member of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) and a Member of the Arthroscopy Association of North America (AANA) where he serves as an Associate Master Instructor of Arthroscopic Surgery. At the age of 30, he became the youngest Associate Master Instructor in AANA history. Dr. Laskovski has cared for Olympic athletes, as well as patients on the high school, NCAA Division 1, and professional level in soccer, football, hockey, basketball, gymnastics, dance, and ballet. In 2012, Dr. Laskovski traveled to Beijing, China to operate on Olympic athletes who were preparing for the Summer Olympics in London. In 2014, he traveled to Mexico City and operated with the President of ISHA, Victor Ilizaliturri, M.D.

Dr. Laskovski’s research interests include arthroscopic labral repair of the hip, endoscopic repair of the gluteus medius and minimus tendons, arthroscopic and endoscopic resection of benign tumors of the hip, advanced imaging and MRI of the hip, and long term outcomes of joint preservation of the hip. He is currently involved in a prospective study of patient outcomes of arthroscopic labral repair, arthroscopic iliopsoas lengthening, and endoscopic repair of gluteus medius and gluteus minimus tendon tears.

Annette Mazevski

Age: 34

Heritage:

As a young girl, my parents were always very supportive of my endeavors, especially those in science and technology. My dad, a mechanical engineer, always challenged me to have a better understanding of how math is involved in everything, from steering a boat to having the perfect angle in a putt-putt shot. My mother, who is amazing at anything she does, always encouraged me to learn and be inquisitive, even if it meant a couple of science mishaps in the kitchen (and, no, I’m not talking about making rakija).

All of these experiences while growing up didn’t necessarily lead me into the career I chose, but it did give me the drive and the determination to want to know more, to ask the right questions, and to perpetuate the constant stream of knowledge that surrounds us on a daily basis. That ultimately drove me to get my Ph.D. — I wanted to help people who struggled with hearing loss (which is why I got my Au.D.) but I also wanted to be a part of the process that gave people a better quality of life. I thought that, if my parents could have the strength and courage to move to a foreign land, not know the language, and learn new customs while maintaining our own culture and traditions (I see many of you can relate, as evidenced on YouTube), the least I could do in return is to show them how appreciative I am of their own sacrifices in their lives by working hard and being a success in my own life. I’d like to think that they know that.

For those of you who are interested in a career focused in research and helping others, I would tell you to not give up, even when it’s hard. And it will be hard — that’s the nature of the beast. You will learn a lot about yourself during those tough times and you will realize exactly how driven and how resilient you really are, even when you don’t feel that way. It’s only when you look back and see how far you have come, that you find that your inner strength and resolve had always been there, planted as seeds from your childhood and blossoming into the person that you are today.

Biography:

Annette Mazevski, Au.D., Ph.D., is the Manager of Technology Assessment at Oticon, Inc. Prior to joining Oticon, Annette worked in clinical and private practice settings, providing care to pediatric and adult populations. In addition to her clinical experience, she has been involved in amplification research for nearly 10 years and has engaged in product testing and publishing on behalf of Oticon. Annette completed her Au.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and her Ph.D. from Gallaudet University. Her dissertation focused on audibility and working memory, and how it affects communication ability in older adults.

Aleksandar Mitreski

Age: 35

Heritage:

Growing up in a Macedonian household, I was taught that hard work, determination and honesty are essential for success in life. With the demise of Yugoslavia and the transitional period in Macedonia I observed many people lose jobs due to society changes. I promised myself that if I follow the guiding principles of hard work, determination and honesty, no matter the circumstances, I would give myself the opportunity to succeed.

Biography:

Aleksandar Mitreski was only 17 years old when he left his family in Macedonia and immigrated to the United States in 1995. In only a relatively short professional career he has impressively developed to become an expert in the electric utilities industry. With his current post as the Director for Regulatory Affairs of Brookfield’s portfolio of resources in New England, Mitreski oversees the interest of approximately 2,000MW of generation capacity. While Brookfield’s portfolio is predominantly filled with renewable energy such as wind, hydro and solar, he has a broad knowledge of the wholesale energy, capacity and other ancillary markets. Together with his energy traders, Mitreski develops commercial strategy how to best to optimize Brookfield’s portfolio of hydro generators. Among those resources, there is a 600MW pumped storage hydro facility that can ramp up to full output in 3 minutes, the largest wind farm in New England with 99MW capacity, or how to arbitrage energy trading between the neighboring markets and the New England markets. Most recently, he was involved in a due diligence acquisition process for 75MW portfolio of hydro resources in the state of Maine.

In his previous post, Mitreski worked as market designer for the Independent System Operator of New England. In that capacity he designed the energy, capacity, reserve and other market aspects that impacted over 400 market participants who traded on an annual basis $10 billion of trading transactions. As an expert witness he has provided written testimonies to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission in support of his designed changes on eight separate instances. He also worked on the operational side of the electric utility industry where he had a front view how the generation fleet in New England is operated on a daily basis.

Mitreski has a Bachelor’s of Electrical Engineering from Louisiana Tech University and a Master of Business and Administration from University of Arkansas in Little Rock. He currently resides in Massachusetts with this wife and two children.

Jim Nikopoulos

Age: 39

Heritage:

The Macedonian heritage has helped me develop my career as a result of several attributes that I have learned from the Macedonian people, including a “never settle” attitude, a hard work mentality and how to carry oneself with confidence while staying humble. I am very inspired by the stories of many Macedonians, including my grandparents and parents, immigrating to Canada with no money in their pockets yet finding ways to provide support for their families and developing successful careers. The Macedonian culture also places significant importance on family and friends and I am blessed to have the best of family and friends that one could have.

For young Macedonians looking to pursue career paths, my recommendation is to reach out to others that have done it before you for mentorship and remember that hard work and determination will bring you your chosen path. At the same time, remember to have fun, enjoy time with family and friends and participate in extracurricular activities to expand your horizons and be well rounded.

Biography:

Jim Nikopoulos currently serves as Vice President and General Counsel of Element Financial Corporation, a TSX-listed issuer and one of North America’s leading independent equipment finance companies. Jim is also a member of the Board of Directors of TeraGo Inc., a TSX-listed issuer that provides businesses across Canada with carrier-grade broadband, data and voice communications services. Prior to that, he was a partner at Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg LLP, a major Canadian business law firm, where he practiced in the areas of mergers and acquisitions, corporate finance and securities, corporate governance, and general corporate and commercial law. Nikopoulos holds an Honours Bachelor of Arts degree (Economics & Political Science) from the University of Toronto and a Law degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. Jim also sits on the Board of Directors of Canadian Macedonian Place Foundation and is co-founder and a director of the Canadian Macedonian Lawyers Association.

Thomas Panoff

Age: 35

Heritage:

Having a Macedonian heritage gives you a helpful perspective as a lawyer in several ways. First, it helps you recognize that details are important. Nearly everyone of Macedonian heritage has at one point had to explain to a friend or colleague “where that is” or explain the history and culture of Macedonia – you cannot just lump it in together with other countries or cultures in the region. The same is true in the practice of law. Each case, deal, client or situation is unique and deserves your full attention and consideration. Second, and somewhat related, it teaches you humility and compassion. By often having to educate others or explain your background, you can better appreciate when a client—either a corporation or individual—comes to you with a difficult situation or as the “underdog” and needs your help. Third, having a Macedonian heritage teaches you never to give up. Macedonians, particularly earlier generations, had to overcome obstacles such as war, poverty, ridicule, leaving family at a young age to find work to help support them, etc., that make the challenges my generation faces seem inconsequential. So when I have a tough day as a lawyer, whether it is a challenging day in court or having a difficult conversation with an adverse party, I think back to the struggles of my parents, grandparents, and those who came before them and the sacrifices that they made to give my generation a better life then they had, and I quickly realize that things are never quite as bad as they appear and never to give up pursuing your dream no matter how daunting a particular day, task or adversary may seem.

Biography:

Tom Panoff and his two older brothers, Mike and Chris, were born and raised in Flint, Michigan. His father, Angelo, was born in Macedonia and immigrated to the United States with his family as a child. Tom’s mother, Christine, also is Macedonian with both of her parents having emigrated from Macedonia as well. Tom went on to earn a B.B.A. at the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, a J.D. from Harvard Law School and an LL.M. from Cambridge University. Tom clerked for Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. of the Michigan Supreme Court after law school.

Tom is currently a partner in the Chicago office of the global law firm Mayer Brown LLP. He focuses his practice on complex commercial litigation involving antitrust, merger and acquisition, mortgage securitization and other high-stakes commercial matters. He practices before trial and appellate courts around the country as well as before regulatory agencies. Tom also frequently counsels clients in antitrust, corporate governance and regulatory matters. He also provides pro bono services to the Diocese of the Midwest of the Orthodox Church in America and is active in the Chicago Bar Foundation.

Tom is married to Christy (née Skekloff) formerly of Ft. Wayne, Indiana. They have a daughter, Elizabeth, and reside in Chicago.

Chris Pavlovski

Age: 30

Heritage:

We featured Chris Pavlovski in UMD Voice magazine, few issues ago; click HERE to read his story.

Biography:

Chris Pavlovski is one of the founders of Joke-roo and is currently the Chief Executive Officer of JMG and rumble.com. Chris has over 10 years of online advertising and marketing experience. At JMG, Chris has worked with companies including but not limited to Warner Bros., Universal Paramount, Virgin Mobile, Lionsgate, Coors, and Red Bull. During his tenure at JMG, Chris has been responsible for generating annual sales in the millions. Prior to JMG, Chris worked for Microsoft Corporation, a world leader in computer software development. His studies included Economics and Computer Science at the University of Toronto.

Chris is also the Director of Marketing for Next Giant Leap, a space exploration company competing for the $30 milion Google Lunar X Prize. The Next Giant Leap team includes space enthusiasts like Michale Joyce, Todd Mosher, and former NASA astronaut Jeffrey Hoffman. On the institutional front it includes MIT and on the corporate front: Sierra Nevada Corporation, Draper Corporation and Aurora.

Chris founded and is an investor in Cosmic Development in Macedonia.

Bojan Peovski

Age: 34

Heritage:

Click HERE for a special interview we did with Peovski back in January.

Biography:

Bojan Peovski, the Managing Partner of Realington and Principal of Realington Capital, is responsible for the financial strength of the company, technology, operations, and new ventures. Bojan’s key competencies are project planning and financing and day-to-day operations to ensure a healthy business. A graduate of University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, he began his career in the IT industry at Sapient Corporation. Bojan has accumulated more than five years of experience in project planning and financing in both real estate and technology sectors and has been in the real estate business for the past three years.

Alexandra, Stefanie, & Katharine Petkovski – The GiGi Sisters

Age: 22, 19, and 16

Heritage:

Our Macedonian heritage has been rooted with us our whole lives; from an early age we were taught family values that are very important in Macedonian culture. With our music career it has been really helpful to us to be able to have each other in this unified family way- in an industry that can be sometimes impersonal it is always a huge benefit to be surrounded by family. We would like to advise to aspiring Macedonians to keep loved ones close – family is one of the most important things in life, and truly aids you in any pursuit in life.

Biography:

Alexandra, Stefanie, and Katharine took their passion and love for singing, songwriting, and performing and created The GiGi Sisters. Classically trained in piano, the three sisters have been songwriting since a very young age. This year the trio toured with Demi Lovato’s artist from The X Factor; Jill Jensen, on her ‘I Am Whole’ U.S. Tour, and have been opening for prominent artists such as Down With Webster. The GiGi Sisters performed recently at the Rogers Centre in Toronto and toured with X Factor’s top twelve finalists, Jennel Garcia.

Samuel Petreski

Age: 35

Heritage:

Growing up in a Macedonian community provided me with ethics, morals and family values that I have utilized throughout my career. Having a personal relationship with God and appreciating that family comes first have been a huge source of support and strength required for me to advance my career goals. My Macedonian roots have influenced my strong work ethic and commitment to my community, which I believe will help shape a better tomorrow.

The Macedonian community is regarded as a hardworking community. The vision of watching my family go through hardships has inspired me to apply myself in every aspect of my career and professional development. I’m proud of my advancements and I attribute my success to my Macedonian upbringing.

My advice to young Macedonians is to embrace their heritage and be proud of their Macedonian culture. Understand your strengths and weaknesses and be true to them. Keep on learning, improving, and always take time to offer a helping hand to others.

Biography:

Samuel Petreski is a senior director of Information Security at The Corporate Executive Board, in Arlington, Virginia. He received his B.S. in Computer Science from High Point University and a M.S. in Computer Science from The University of Iowa. After his twelve-year career in higher education, Petreski decided it was time for a change of scenery and moved to the private sector, where he was offered a position at CEB. In addition to his full time job, Petreski is owner of an IT Security Consulting firm, Petreski & Company, LLC. He enjoys working in the IT Security field and has led various projects helping organization protect themselves from cyber-attacks and become more secure. He holds various industry certifications in networking, systems administration and information security. In his spare time, Petreski enjoys playing ping-pong and golf, along with spending time with family and friends.

Dane Popovski

Age: 27

Heritage:

Some of my happiest memories are from my summers in Macedonia spent with my grandparents. Each year I would help with the family apple orchards and live in a place that generations of my ancestors built by hand. There I learned the value in hard work and the satisfaction that comes with helping people. My Macedonian heritage is a constant reminder of the need to be diligent and adapt to be successful in life. Macedonia has overcome numerous wars, disasters and instability because of the relentless spirit of the people. I would like young Macedonians to use their heritage as a reminder of what is possible when people work hard and help each other. This concept is not applicable to just Macedonians but rather to all people wherever they are in the world. In order to be a good Macedonian, first you need to be a great American, Canadian, Australian, etc. Greatness is something that we all strive for but only comes when those around you recognize it.

Biography:

Dane Popovski is a globally recognized leader in medical device and biotechnology regulatory affairs. He is actively engaged in the development and revision of US FDA and global regulations and standards with a successful track record of mediating regulatory issues and obtaining clearance and approval of life saving medical products worldwide. He holds multiple industry certifications and will soon earn his Master’s degree in Regulatory Science from The Johns Hopkins University. He achieved his Bachelor’s Degree in Biological Sciences from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside.

Popovski has worked for and represented a variety of organizations, including Fresenius Kabi AG, Baxter Healthcare Corporation, Cardiac Science Corporation, Thermo Fisher Scientific., and the Medical College of Wisconsin. He has also worked on several multi-million dollar remediation projects and multi-billion dollar new product launches. He remains actively involved in community, state, national and international organizations such as the International Medical Device Regulators Forum (IMDRF), the Regulatory Affairs Professional Society (RAPS), the American Society for Quality (ASQ), and the Project Management Institute (PMI), to name a few. This year Popovski founded and presides over Illumireg Inc., an elite consulting firm focused on introducing and sustaining innovative pharmaceutical, medical device and biotechnology products in challenging regulatory environments.

Jonathon Popovski

Age: 24

Heritage:

My Macedonian heritage has helped me in essentially every aspect of my career and personal path. The greatest influence of being raised in a Macedonian family is that it has taught me to appreciate different ideas, views, and beliefs. This is imperative to understanding and communicating effectively with your peers and colleagues, whether it is in a personal or professional setting. My message to young Macedonians pursuing a similar career path is to first make higher education a priority and get top grades and honors. Although graduating with highest honors doesn’t guarantee success, it is something that cannot be held against you. Secondly, have the mindset that no one owes you anything, because you are the one in charge of your future. Finally, remember that life is a fascinating journey, so take time to live in the moment and count your blessings!

Biography:

Jonathon Popovski joined Ford Motor Company as a financial analyst in 2011 immediately after completing undergraduate school. He earned his Bachelor’s degree in Finance from the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University, where he graduated with honors in the top 10 percent of his class. He had an internship position with Ford working in the General Auditor’s Office the summer before his senior year. His first full-time position was in Product Development, overseeing cost reduction plans and investment decisions for Ford’s medium duty truck line. After a year and a half, he moved to his current role in Treasury where he works on worldwide debt. Popovski believes strong communication skills are essential for success, which is why he joined Ford Toastmasters in 2012 to hone his presentation abilities and was elected Treasurer shortly after. He also enjoys giving back to the community whenever possible. He has worked through the Ford Volunteer Corps at locations such as the Forgotten Harvest and Salvation Army, because helping others is an important aspect of his life. Popovski now plans to take the next step in his career by attending the Stephen M. Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan next year to start the MBA program.

Marinela Seremetkoska

Age: 29

Heritage:

Living in another country, surrounded by so many different cultures, I am glad I can contribute to the great mixture with my own heritage and create relationships with people so diverse and yet so similar to one another. Coming from another place gives you a different and somewhat broader perspective on things, whether it is about a job, education or family.

I am grateful to be here, share my experiences and offer my input, no matter how little, because every little bit matters. And if you can make that difference or feel that you can bring on a change for the better, don’t leave that dream behind, for only fulfilling it will be the ultimate reward.

Biography:

Marinela Seremetkoska was born in Prilep, Macedonia and moved to Canada at the age of 19. This past January was her ten-year anniversary of living in Canada. Shortly after arriving to Canada, she graduated at Southern Alberta Institute of Technology from the Dental Assisting Program, 2007. From there on she continued her studies at the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology 2009, receiving a Diploma in Dental Technology.

Throughout her studies she received numerous awards and scholarships, one of them being the Ivoclar Vivadent, Inc. Dental Technology Scholarship in July of 2008. She has been a Registered Dental Technologist, specializing in orthodontic appliance fabrication, for almost 5 years now and has continuously been expanding her knowledge in the field. She is part of the Registration, Education and Competency committee under the College of Dental Technologists of Alberta and is also currently part of the electoral body for their upcoming College elections.

After working in the field for over 4 years she decided to open her own Dental Lab. She has been in business for just over a year and she has been fortunate enough to experience a few success stories. As a young entrepreneur she enjoys working in a field that she has passion for. She is also happy to be able to put pleasure and her work together in order to contribute to good causes and gives back to the community where my family and me live. This past year she participated in an organized fundraiser, Calgary’s Harvest Half Marathon, where the Lab donated its’ time to raise money for the Tracey Flagg Memorial Fund for brain cancer research.

Alexandre Sévigny

Age: 39

Heritage:

My Macedonian heritage has been a huge influence on me throughout my life. When I was a young boy I was seriously advantaged by the fundamental Macedonian values of discipline, hard work, pragmatism, skepticism, business savvy and the importance of family. I was taught to analyze the people I met, the stories I heard and the businesses I encountered. We always looked for the story behind what we saw and experienced: how does the restaurant where we are eating dinner make money? How does the city pay for garbage collection? How can you tell if someone would be a trusted friend or partner? These questions kept me out of trouble and on the straight and narrow path of hard work and quiet living. In our family excellence was expected, as was respect of others through a live and let live attitude. These attitudes continued to serve me well through university and graduate school, as well as during my life as a university professor.

The connection to Ancient Macedonia has always been a source of great pride for me – I feel a kinship with the approach Alexander took to building his empire: adopting the culture, clothes and appearance of the populations he encountered on his imperial path are ideas that have influenced my approach to the theory and practice of public relations and communications management.

I am also very proud to be associated with the Republic of Macedonia – I feel that it is a major part of my heritage. It is a country of limitless potential because of its ingenuity and hard working people. I discovered this when I lectured at President Ivanov’s School for Young Leaders last summer. My Macedonian upbringing is with me every day, providing me strength and guiding my actions.

Biography:

Alexandre Sévigny, PhD, APR, MCIPR, is a tenured associate professor of communication studies and communication management at McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario. He is currently the Director of the Master of Communications Management Program, offered in partnership between McMaster University and the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. He also holds secondary appointments in several other units at McMaster: the Department of Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, the Department of French and the McMaster Health Forum in the Faculty of Health Sciences.

He has been quite involved in the Macedonian community. In Spring of 2013, He organized an official visit of Dr. Gjorge Ivanov, President of the Republic of Macedonia and First Lady Maja Ivanova, to McMaster University in collaboration with the former Macedonian Ambassador to Canada, His Excellency Ljuben Tevdovski. In August of 2013, Alexandre lectured in President Ivanov’s Summer School for Young Leaders on the topic of social media strategy and management in Ohrid, Macedonia. He provides mentorship to young Macedonian students at McMaster University and elsewhere as they forge careers in communications. He has also participated in the North American-Macedonian scholars’ conference and published scholarly articles on the Macedonian language.

Alexandre’s research focuses on the study of communication theory and human communication applied to the practice of public relations and communications management and reputation management. He founded and is currently co-director of the COMM-Lab: McMaster Communication Metrics Laboratory. Alexandre is the founding editor-in-chief of the Journal of Professional Communication (JPC) – an international scholary and professional journal for practitioners, journalists, policy makers and academics. He also co-founded the McMaster Journal of Communication, a peer-reviewed, graduate student journal of which he has been faculty editor for the past ten years.

In 1998, Alexandre won a fellowship during his PhD at the University of Toronto to spend a year as a pensionnaire étranger at the École Normale Supérieure (Paris, rue d’Ulm), which he completed. In 2000, Alexandre was awarded a Chateaubriand Fellowship from the Government of France to work in cognitive science and content analysis at the École Normale Supérieure, but accepted, instead, a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada postdoctoral fellowship to work on a comprehensive reference dictionary of the Mi’kmaq language and culture in the Gaspé Peninsula (Québec) and in the Maritime Provinces of Canada, which was published in 2006.

Alexandre has won the McMaster Students Union New Faculty Merit Award for teaching excellence and the Petro Canada Young Innovator Award for integrating teaching and research. The Hamilton Spectator listed him on their Top 40 Under 40 in 2008. As chair of the communications committee, he shared with the committee membership the Ontario Liberal Party Riding Advertising Award for the successful reelection campaign of the Honourable Ted McMeekin, Ontario Minister for Community and Social Services.

Alexandre has also served as a political consultant. He was director of communications for Judy Marsales during her successful campaign in the 2003 Ontario provincial election. He was communications chair for Hon. Gerard Kennedy’s successful campaign in the 2008 Canadian federal election and communications chair for Hon. Ted McMeekin’s successful Ontario provincial campaign in 2011.

Toni Simovski

Age: 39

Heritage:

My Macedonian heritage has been a critical part of my development in both my career and personal life. Living in Macedonia from 1986-1989 had made me very aware of ethnic issues across the globe and has shaped me into the social studies teacher that I am today by helping make my students aware of various ethnicities around the world. Having mastered both languages and cultures has been an asset for me both in the community and in my career. Because of my experiences of living in both countries, I have been able to relate to both the older and younger generations of Macedonians. In my career, a major opportunity presented itself to me with the U.S, Government, as I became an interpreter for the military in Macedonia. My mastery of five languages and cultural experiences were essential for my position. In my current career as a teacher, I make sure my students know about my Macedonian heritage and educate them about it.

My message to young Macedonians pursuing a teaching career is simple- make sure you are doing it because you love the profession and can relate to the students. Those are critical components for any teacher who wants to succeed. You must also learn your content! Students will be quick to notice if you do not have mastery of it.

Biography:

Toni Simovski is a Macedonian-American who resides in the Metro Detroit area with his wife Natalie and their two sons Alexander and Nicholas. His parents are from the Tetovo region of Macedonia, specifically from the village of Preljubiste. Toni’s family returned to Macedonia in 1986 and then moved back to the United States in 1989. Living in Macedonia shaped his future career path as he fell in love with history and politics.

Toni went on to earn a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Michigan-Dearborn double majoring in Political Science and History graduating with Summa Cum Laude honors. He also has earned a Master’s Degree in Education from The University of Michigan. Toni is an award-winning teacher at South Lyon High School where he has been teaching AP American Government, Government and American History since 1999. His numerous teaching awards include; the 2009 Michigan Social Studies Educator of the Year, the 2007 Michigan Civic Educator of the Year and the 2010 University of Michigan-Dearborn School of Education Alumnus of the Year.

Before becoming a teacher, Toni was the head interpreter for the United States military in Macedonia from 1998-1999 where he was stationed at Camp Able Sentry at the Alexander the Great International Airport. While working as an interpreter, Toni interacted with numerous people within the U.S. Government such as; Secretary of Defense William Cohen, Secretary of State Madeline Albright, Vice President Al Gore, General Wesley Clark and many more while conducting operations throughout Macedonia. For his service under a UN mandate, Toni earned UN bronze medals of service.

Toni has also been involved within the Macedonian community. He has been a member of the United Macedonian Diaspora for many years and was involved with the United Macedonian Americans of Detroit as the scholarship committee chairman. Toni attends St. Mary’s Macedonian Orthodox Church in Sterling Heights.

Irena Snider

Age: 36

Heritage:

My upbringing in Macedonia has largely shaped me into the wife, mother, friend and professional that I am today. My two role models, my mother and father, worked tirelessly to enable my twin sister (see Ivona Grimberg above) and me to excel in tennis and compete at the highest levels worldwide. Coming from modest circumstances did not present an obstacle for them to find the right sponsorships and coaches that allowed us to play on the women’s tennis circuit and ultimately landed us at a top ten Division I tennis program where both of us had full scholarships. Those early years in Macedonia built my strong work ethic that has allowed me to succeed both in school and professionally, but also built my core personal and family values that guide me to this day. My short advice to young Macedonians paving their way to a prosperous future is to aim high, work hard, and use all of the resources available to them, including the United Macedonian Diaspora, to get to their goal.

Biography:

Irena Snider joined Raymond James’ investment banking practice in 2007 and focuses on M&A advisory transactions, equity and debt private placements and public equity offerings primarily for middle market companies in the financial services sector. Prior to joining Raymond James, Snider spent five years in the international tax consulting practice at Ernst & Young. She received her M.B.A. from the Goizueta Business School at Emory University, where she was a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma honorary society. She graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor of Accounting from the University of Mississippi, where she was a member of the Varsity Women’s Tennis team, an NCAA Academic All-American, and a recipient of the Taylor Medal, the highest academic honor bestowed by the university. Snider is a Certified Public Accountant. Snider played on the Macedonian national tennis team and on the WTA professional tennis circuit prior to attending university.

Vasko Spaseski

Age: 37

Biography:

Vasko Spaseski, or as he likes to be called “Vas” originates from Prilep, Macedonia, and is the Managing Director of Inspired Homes in Perth, Australia. After completing extensive onsite training with some of the best builders around Perth, Vas has now created a successful business turning over between 150 to 200 dwellings per year. As a multiple award-winning builder, Vas has cemented his name in the industry for years to come.

As managing director, his main focus is on business development and customer support but he also ensures that the company achieves its key performance indicators of on-time delivery within the client’s financial budget, zero defects and a safe workplace environment. Inspired Homes has been recognized at the highest level by the Housing Industry Awards, having been awarded HIA Awards for Construction Excellence. Inspired Homes has been recognized by both their peers and customers and are proud to be voted the best Townhouse and Villa Developer $201,000 to $300,000 & The Excellence in Service for Medium Builders in Australia.

Vas actively supports charitable organizations such as the Make A Wish Foundation, Telethon, the Royal Flying Doctors, WA Special Need’s Children’s Xmas Party, Sids n Kids, and the Breast Cancer Foundation.

Vas is a successful businessman, loving father of three, husband and proud Macedonian. Vas is a keen supporter of UMD and is very proud of his Macedonian heritage. Vas is also an avid supporter of the West Coast Sunshine Lions (A Perth Macedonian Football team).

Izaac Trpeski

Age: 33

Heritage:

Being of proud Australian-Macedonia heritage is my god given birth right. It is not by chance I have been born into a very old and unique historical culture. It is pure fate and destiny. I take on this honour of being from Macedonian heritage very close to my heart. Through my own personal self-discovery of my Macedonia identity, cultural and historical heritage and great ancestry, I have discovered that it is a powerful deep seeded heritage, which has many roots of Macedonian civilizations layered throughout history. Through this discovery I see my ancestors and predecessors who have sacrificed everything for us and take great pride in this beautiful heritage without force but with purity. Australia and Macedonia is in my blood and I always choose to promote it at the forefront in everything I do. Why? Well simply because this heritage has a story worth telling and worth listening to from many angles. One can only learn from something old and different. Growing up in a predominantly strong Macedonian community in Australia which my family have great links to for almost 100 years, I have seen how a community unifies through selfless intentions and offers countless support when needed. From many of my peers and all the great friends and networks I have made from my youth and now well into my career and business, I see collaboration with key prominent figures in the community as pivotal guides and mentors which has been invaluable in society and can only continue to be highly important for future generations.

To the youth in the Australian-Macedonian communities looking at pursing any career path, be proud of your heritage, wear it with honour and respect everyone who comes your way from all walks of like as that will project positivity and in return good things will come and opportunities will open for all. Being a good person only manifests good work and good relations. Work smart and stay focused in what your goals are. Every industry is lucrative but if you have a strategic plan and goal anyone can succeed. Most importantly, work with people who you love to work with and who elevate the best out in you.

I’d like to leave you with an important quote from a hero of mine, which should always be at the forefront of your mind. “I would rather excel others in the knowledge of what is excellent than in the extent of my powers and dominion” – Alexander The Great

Biography:

Izaac Trpeski was born on February 20, 1980. Izaac has always been a proud Australian-Macedonian who believes that with dedication and passion, one can achieve any goal. Izaac is a committed smart working individual with an enormous amount of creative energy and innovation in the way he undergoes business. He promotes Macedonian products and brands Macedonia as an exotic destination of fine food delicacies and an untapped region for export business potential. By promoting Macedonia to non-Macedonians he attracts a genuine interest from people to explore and travel to the great ancient land that is Macedonia. His commitments and efforts should be commended so other younger Macedonians can follow in his entrepreneurial footsteps. As the director of Trepeza Fine Food, Izaac has a hand in branding, advertising and promoting new emerging brands to the bustling Australian food industry. One of his special projects include ORO Naturally Sparkling Mineral Water, which promotes the Macedonia region as a haven for quality in food and its historic authentic culture.

Aleksandar (‘Aleks’) Vasilev

Age: 33

Heritage:

Having a heritage you can proudly look at is certainly an advantage for everybody regardless of ethnicity. Always keep in mind that your own heritage, your particular way of thinking and your particular assessment of different situations are special and unique. It differs somewhat from others. This proves to be a huge asset time and again – it does not show all the time but it will come helpful when you do not expect it. Whether this is professionally and you are able to talk to colleagues or business partners in their language or in your private life if you are travelling a lot abroad and suddenly the portier at the hotel greets you in Macedonian – it is a great experience and it will help you – be sure about it!

Biography:

Aleksandar Vasilev was born in Mannheim, Germany to Macedonians Mite Vasilev and Desanka Vasileva – both originating from the Probistip-Kratovo region in Northeastern Macedonia. His parents had immigrated to Germany in 1970 and still live in Mannheim, today. Aleks has a sister who works as a nurse. Both were born and raised in Mannheim. In his youth, he actively supported the local Macedonian Community by assisting his father in his function as president of a Macedonian nonprofit association. Today, his father Mite Vasilev is still well known with Macedonian migrant communities in Europe.

Aleks studied Business Administration at the prestigious University of Mannheim (MBA) in Germany majoring in Accounting, Taxation and International Tax Law. He also attended Vienna University of Economics and Business – WU Wien) in Austria for one semester. During his studies Aleks also interned in the concrete industry in Budapest, Hungary and in Bosnia-Hercegovina. He also worked as an independent economic consultant for different companies and institutions.

After working for Deloitte in the field of international taxation, Aleks pursued his passion for regulatory management. After turning down an offer from industry he chose to join the national authorities and act as economic regulator instead of working for regulated entities. With his start in the National Supervisory Authority or Air Navigation Services in Germany he worked in the area of the Single European Sky and FABEC.

Since January 2013 he works for the Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure in Bonn, Germany and acts as Head of different German delegations in budgetary and financial matters at the international organisation EUROCONTROL, headquartered in Brussels, Belgium. Furthermore, he is in charge of economic regulation in the field of Air Navigation Services.

Aleks endorses strong transatlantic ties between the U.S. and Europe. He is married to Andrea Jöstingmeier who works as a medical doctor. They share a love for North America and got married in New York City.

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