Growing up in former Yugoslavia, Helena Budisa was a studious child who loved schoolwork, dressmaking and gardening. Her dream of becoming an entrepreneur was an ambition undimmed by war and the birth of a new nation. SELF BELIEF AND DETERMINATION When Helena finally launched her own business in 1995, accountancy was a profession still in its infancy and the Croatian war of independence, had created economic uncertainty. Today that company, now known as UHY HB EKONOM, is a proudly successful accountancy business that celebrated its 25th anniversary in 2020. Helena believes a mix of self belief, determination and instinct pushed her through the obstacles. Her dream of being an entrepreneur ran alongside a desire to understand how businesses could flourish. “I represented our school in accountancy competitions and I had a hunger to understand how businesses could benefit from it.” After graduating from college in Split, Helena briefly worked for a bank and joined the accountancy team of a small company. "In my head I always saw the bigger picture – I longed to improve my country’s status and instil belief and confidence that it was a

great place to do business.” GOING IT ALONE Determination and family support were key to Helena's progress. “My belief that all would be well may seem naive but was the source of my strength. My vision was to improve myself, my profession and the whole community – the situation in 1995 was difficult due to war, but my desire for change was bigger than my fear of failure.” As one of the first generation of certified accountants in Croatia, Helena saw big potential. “Accountants build companies from the ground up, and can be the first to see opportunities and threats, but many people didn’t take us seriously. This spurred me to obtain a certified auditor's licence. Then people took notice.” BUILDING A BASE Helena and her new team created a digital shop window – her accountancy business was the first in Dalmatia to have a website. “Clients started asking for advice and our English-language website brought us foreign investors.” Clients grew and the business gained momentum. In 2007 came an invitation for UHY membership. “That did not happen overnight,” says Helena. “There were days of hard work, conversations and advice and the selection of the best associates. Plus boundless patience from my family!” “We recognised the benefits of global cooperation and our UHY membership has brought us the opportunity to progress. Our English-speaking teamprovide services at the highest level. Teamwork is important at UHY and that is why I am very

happy to be part of it.” INNOVATION AND ENTREPRENEURSHIP Helena’s commitment to entrepreneurship allowed her to explore things that matter to her. “A big moment was when I was elected Ambassador of Women’s Entrepreneurship (AWE) in Brussels,” she says. “People often ask me about entrepreneurship so I am thrilled when they later tell me that our meeting was pivotal.” Helena also joined the Croatian Association of Employers, and in 2013 was elected vice president of its executive board in Dalmatia – a position she has held for eight years. “It’s about removing barriers to business. I consider our greatest success the reduction of taxes on employee income and of income taxes for small and micro-entrepreneurs.” PUTTING CLIENTS FIRST Even before the pandemic, UHY HB EKONOM was focusing on digitising process and systems to create a more innovative approach, and Covid merely sped up projects like cloud accounting. The firm’s app offering online delivery of documents plus the ability for business owners to check their financial data was groundbreaking. “The project was implemented by our internal consultants from UHY Consulting, I’m very proud of them,” says Helena. REACHING OUT Despite all her success, Helena never underestimates client loyalty and works hard to keep those relationships strong. “We’re proud of their success and maintaining that relationship is an essential part of our growth and development. Communication

skills are necessary for success and it is extremely important to know how to share your ideas and knowledge. Once a year we organise a free event for our clients, which we call a financial healthy breakfast or investment breakfast and encourage mutual networking. “We have also been publishing a monthly newsletter for nine years in which we share news and information with clients about business improvement or investment opportunities, tax savings, available grants from EU funds. Today we are also active on Linkedin and Facebook, where we always share free news and tips with our followers. “Our financial experts are here to use their knowledge and experience to help the entrepreneur and to make his or her business simpler and more successful. That’s our goal.” For more information about UHY HB EKONOM contact Helena or visit www.uhyincroatia.comFRIENDSHIP AND FAMILY HELENA’S WORLD What made your firm’s anniversary last year so special? This anniversary has shown that we have survived all obstacles and threats, we have adapted and started many new trends in accounting and audit despite all the insecure times in the last 25 years (some even more insecure than in this pandemic). Do you have a personal motto for life and business? Not a motto but I believe various situations in life illustrate ‘superpowers’ that you were not aware of before. One characteristic that people ascribe to me is that I will

find something good in every situation. This makes me very happy. What makes Croatia such a great place to do business? Croatia is like a bridge between the Mediterranean lifestyle and Western business style. I’m an hour or two away from big commercial centres like London, Paris, Berlin or Istanbul yet I get to live in a small, sunny and friendly historical town with a third century Diocletian palace! Our country offers an amazing lifestyle and climate, great connections to Europe, good healthcare, we are supportive of entrepreneurship and are developing a startup culture. Tell us about your family? My husband Branko is my rock. For 20 years he ran his own company, but a few years ago we decided to slow down and focus on one business. I know I would not be able to run these multiple roles if he wasn’t there supporting me. He is the best cook and the meal that waits for me when I come home brightens every day! My son Kresimir specialises in project management and EU funds. For four years he was special advisor to the mayor of Split working on development projects. My daughter Mila went to college in the US and is now a career development specialist for Croatia’s biggest company looking after 11,000 employees. They are fulfilled young people full of plans and have our warmest support. Helena with her husband, Branko, and her granddaughter, Nikolina How do you relax? I love spending time in nature and by the sea. Croatia has beautiful

national parks and I am privileged to live on the coast. I spend free time with my family in our weekend home where I have my flower garden and a terrace overlooking the sea. During the summer we go fishing and exploring new beaches. I have several close friends and I enjoy making memories with them as well. What ambitions do you still have? New ideas are always spinning in my head. Since I am no longer the only person in charge of strategic development I work on this with my partners. We are guided by the motto, ‘If you want to go fast, go alone, but if you want to go far, go together’. Who or what makes you laugh? I am surrounded by happy people but my biggest comedian is my five year old granddaughter Nikolina. She is bursting with unexpected answers and ideas and I love the way she thinks outside the box. During our weekends together, along with my husband, we are trio fantastic. Helena with immortelles in her garden Tell us something about you that might surprise our readers? I love making 100% natural oils, body lotions and wardrobe perfumes fromlavender and immortelles from my garden – I give them as gifts to my family and friends.

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