This much I know: Professor Vlatka Hlupic, University of Westminster

18 March 2015

“Vlatka"

CMI Management Article of the Year finalist tells us about the job offer she couldn’t refuse, how technology drives leadership and why company law should be changed

Colin Marrs

Vlatka Hlupic is a world-renowned leadership expert, and one of the Top Five finalists for this year’s Chartered Management Institute (CMI) Management Article of the Year award. Vlatka’s shortlisted article The 6 Box Leadership Diagnostics was a companion piece to her acclaimed book The Management Shift, published last year by Palgrave Macmillan.

In addition to lecturing at the University of Westminster, Vlatka is CEO of the Drucker Society London – carrying the torch of historic management theorist Peter Drucker into the modern age.

I moved to the UK from Zagreb in 1991. I came across to do a PhD and had a job offer I couldn’t refuse: I took up an academic post at Brunel University where I stayed for 12 years. I came just before the civil war in Yugoslavia. Fortunately my family and friends lived in Zagreb, which was not badly affected – but it was a difficult time to watch the news.

My academic career has almost run in parallel tracks. I started in studying computer simulation and information systems. However, I also trained extensively in personal development and psychology. 10 years ago I decided to become a professor at a business school, bringing all my knowledge together to research leadership and change management. Because of my parallel careers and broad interests I have been able to see the big picture.

Technology is a tool for business change. It allows more flexibility of working and greater knowledge creation. Social media, if used properly, can bring transparency and trust to a company and allow everyone to participate in decision making, sweeping away old hierarchical management models.

Changing company law is a big priority for me. I am working on the launch of a UK petition for humanising management, and compelling companies to focus on the needs and requirements of all stakeholders, rather than focusing solely on profit maximisation. If we get 100,000 signatures we could force a debate in Parliament.

I feel like a politician and my political party is humanity. Peter Drucker is one of my biggest role models. He is one of the pioneers of management scholarship and advocated a humanistic approach. It is all about treating people with respect, and distributing power and decision-making.

Ballroom dancing is my passion. I grew up in Croatia listening to Mozart and Strauss, and of course dancing the Viennese Waltz. As a student I sang classical music semi-professionally. Now, I am a big fan of Strictly Come Dancing and participate in ballroom dancing whenever I can find the time.

Read Vlatka’s Management Article of the Year entry in Winning Ideas – a special, CMI compilation of the Top Five pieces.

Find out more about her book The Management Shift here.

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