Empowering Tomorrow’s Leaders: My WeLead Journey

June 18, 2024 by Aleksandra Lulkoska

The journey towards European Union (EU) integration embodies a dual nature, presenting both challenges and opportunities for participating nations. While navigating the complexities of aligning with EU standards and regulations can be daunting, it also offers the chance for economic growth, political stability, and enhanced regional cooperation. This process requires dedication, reforms, and cooperation, but ultimately holds the potential to bring about lasting benefits for both the aspiring members and the EU as a whole.

As a young professional serving in the Ministry of Finance of the Republic of North Macedonia, my commitment to contributing to this process led me to embark on a transformative journey with the WeLead project. This initiative, tailored for public officials aged 35 or younger in the Western Balkans, aimed to deepen our understanding of the EU accession process while fostering stronger networks among young civil servants across the region. In this reflective narrative, I share the profound impact of my participation in two pivotal components of the WeLead project: WeLearn and WeExperience.

WeLearn: Nurturing Skills and Knowledge for Tomorrow's Leaders

Under the WeLearn component, I had the privilege of engaging in participatory and peer-to-peer learning events meticulously designed to enhance our skills and knowledge essential for navigating the complexities of modern governance. These events transcended conventional classroom lectures, offering a dynamic platform for interactive exchanges with policymakers and subject matter experts. Through meticulously curated topics, WeLearn provided a comprehensive exploration of themes crucial for our roles as future policymakers.

One of the most enlightening aspects of WeLearn was the in-depth examination of leadership styles and their practical applications. Through engaging discussions and real-world case studies, we gained insights into various leadership approaches and learned to adapt them to our unique contexts. Sessions focusing on managerial accountability, professional integrity, and foresight and complexity management challenged us to think critically and cultivate a forward-thinking mindset essential for effective decision-making in the realm of public administration.

future leaders

Moreover, the emphasis on participative governance and the concept of public institutions as learning organizations resonated deeply with me. These sessions underscored the importance of inclusivity and continuous learning in fostering transparency and accountability within our administrations. Additionally, the integration of digital transformation with public financial management and administration reform highlighted the transformative potential of technology in driving efficiency and innovation in governance practices.

In essence, WeLearn taught me that continuous learning isn't just a professional requirement but a personal commitment to growth. It's about staying adaptable, innovative, and ready to tackle the challenges of tomorrow. Embracing lifelong learning isn't just about staying relevant—it's about thriving in a rapidly changing world and making a meaningful impact in governance and beyond.

WeExperience: Bridging Borders Through Immersive Study Visits

Complementing our theoretical learning under WeLearn, the WeExperience component offered us invaluable opportunities to immerse ourselves in the best practices and challenges faced by our counterparts in neighboring countries. Through carefully curated study visits to institutions in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Tirana, Albania, and Paris, France, we gained practical insights into different governance approaches and EU integration processes.

In Tirana, Albania, our itinerary included visits to the Prime Minister’s Office, Bank of Albania, and the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. These visits provided firsthand exposure to the decision-making processes and economic policies shaping Albania's trajectory within the European context.

In Bosnia and Herzegovina, we engaged with key stakeholders such as the Parliamentary Assembly of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Regional Cooperation Council, and the Directorate for EU Integrations. These interactions deepened our understanding of the challenges and opportunities in fostering regional cooperation and aligning with EU standards.

The highlight of our study visits was in Paris, France, where we delved into various facets of governance and development. We had the privilege of interacting with EU officials, gaining insights into the intricacies of the accession process. Additionally, we explored organizations such as OECD SIGMA (Support for Improvement in Governance and Management), OECD Development Co-operation Directorate (DCD), and OECD Observatory of Public Sector Innovation (OPSI), broadening our perspectives on international governance practices.

During our time in Paris, we also visited the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, IIEP-UNESCO (International Institute for Educational Planning), Agence Française de Développement (AFD), Banque de France, Le Lab (innovations center), and Bank for International Settlements, Hub for Innovations. These visits provided us with insights into innovative initiatives and collaborative efforts aimed at addressing global challenges and promoting sustainable development.

Witnessing firsthand the complexities and nuances of EU integration and international governance processes reinforced my commitment to fostering regional cooperation and advancing the European agenda in the Western Balkans. These immersive study visits not only enriched our academic experience but also empowered us to contribute meaningfully to our respective fields upon our return. By bridging borders and fostering collaboration, WeExperience has laid the foundation for a more interconnected and prosperous future for the Western Balkans and Europe as a whole.

Impact and Reflections

My participation in the WeLead project has left an indelible mark on both my personal and professional journey. Through WeLearn, I gained invaluable knowledge and skills that have empowered me to be a more effective leader and advocate for change. The peer-to-peer learning approach fostered a sense of community and collaboration, reminding me of the power of collective wisdom and shared experiences.

Similarly, the WeExperience component has broadened my horizons and deepened my understanding of the EU integration process. Witnessing firsthand the challenges and successes of our neighboring countries has instilled in me a profound sense of solidarity and determination to contribute to the collective goal of EU integration in the Western Balkans.

As I anticipate the future, I am enthusiastic about harnessing the insights and expertise acquired through the WeLead project to make meaningful contributions to the progress of the Western Balkans. Whether through advocating for participatory governance, spearheading digital innovation initiatives, or cultivating regional cooperation efforts, I am dedicated to actively driving change both within my community and on a broader scale. I am particularly eager to apply my newfound knowledge and skills to my role as a civil servant in the Ministry of Finance of North Macedonia, where I will strive to integrate these experiences into our efforts to enhance fiscal policies and development strategies, institutional capacity building, and overall professional development for the betterment of our nation and the region as a whole. In conclusion, my journey with the WeLead project has been nothing short of transformative. Through WeLearn and WeExperience, I have gained knowledge, insights, and connections that will continue to shape my personal and professional journey for years to come. I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to be part of this impactful initiative and look forward to playing my part in building a brighter future for North Macedonia and the broader Western Balkans region.