The Prime Minister of Serbia Ana Brnabić spoke at Imperial this week about how the country was going through a technology transformation.
The Serbian leader, who is the country’s first female and first openly gay premier, was invited by Imperial 600 to speak at the final showcase event as part of LGBT History Month at Imperial.
The event; Tech and Entrepreneurship: Leading for Growth; was attended by Imperial staff, students, alumni and friends.
The Prime Minister spoke about how she had prioritised creating an e-government to promote greater transparency, efficiency and to be more citizen-focused.
The Serbian PM said: “When I became Prime Minister in 2017, the key task was to continue with the reforms to transform our economy and society from labour intensive investment, to innovation-driven and knowledge-based.
“That transformation was really based on technology. We are living in exciting times of the fourth industrial revolution, which is giving opportunities to countries like Serbia, who were not winners of the third industrial revolution but can become winners of the fourth.
“In the fourth industrial revolution we are all given a chance to restart from scratch and rebuild our nation.
“I thought this was a fantastic opportunity for Serbia. Digitalisation along with education reform to prepare our youth for the jobs of the future were the cornerstones of my government.”
An example of the technology reforms includes the electronic birth registration service e-baby, which has reduced the need for paperwork and for new mothers to spend days queuing and registration desks.
The Prime Minister also highlighted how she is preparing school children for future employment by teaching coding at a young age.
The Prime Minister said: “One of the key challenges was education. How do you prepare your youth for the jobs of future that do not yet even exist?
“We needed to teach education to try and teach kids how to think instead of what to think.
“That’s why we have introduced coding and programming as mandatory subjects in primary school because coding and programming teach kids how to think in terms of algorithms and logic, and how to solve problems, challenge things and think for themselves.”
Drivers of change
Following the talk, the Prime Minister took part in a Q&A with Imperial’s Vice President Maggie Dallman.
The Prime Minister spoke about balancing her private and family life with public office, her experience studying in the UK and what she learned from her time in the private sector.
Earlier on, the Dean of the Business School, Francisco Veloso, welcomed and introduced the Prime Minister to the event.
Professor Veloso said: “Technology, entrepreneurship, leadership, equality, inclusion these are all topics that are at the heart of Imperial and at the heart of the Business School.
“When we think about our role we think of an institution at the forefront of knowledge, and certainly when we think about technology, innovation, entrepreneurship, the Business School is at the forefront of pushing our understanding of these issues.
“One of the things that is quite important is we need all of us to be drivers of change, to be pushing the way we understand these issues.”
Imperial 600 is the College’s network for LGBTQ+ staff, postgraduate students and their allies.
Imperial 600 was established in 2006 to support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender staff at the College.
The group’s name reflects the estimation that around 10% of the UK’s population is LGBT – in 2006 this equalled 600 of Imperial’s 6,000 staff.
Imperial 600 today remains an active staff network, welcoming LGBTQ+ staff, postgraduate students and their allies.