FIAA: You have been recently elected as President of the Foreign Investors Association of Albania, what is your perspective on the Leadership model and experience that you will share with Foreign Investors Community in Albania?
Mr. D’Oria: First of all I would like to express again my gratitude to all the members who voted me as President of FIAA.
FIAA’s mission is to support the success of its members by promoting a healthy business environment in the country, and to provide high-quality business information and resources. This is a challenging mission in a fast-developing country in terms of legislation and infrastructure and I am happy and excited to have taken up such an important role in the structure of FIAA.
In September it will be a year since I was appointed as CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Albania, whereas other members have been in Albania for longer time periods. In addition, I have a very long (you can say life-time) experience in the Banking Industry, but in FIAA there are many other sectors. For the above reasons, I consider myself lucky to be surrounded by the knowledge and the expertise of the fellow members not only in the local market but also in their own industries, which have a plethora of characteristics and bear non-similar challenges.
The beginning of this journey will therefore provide me with enormous opportunities to conduct research, observe and learn, since I consider myself on the on-boarding phase. The positive outcome is that usually in this phase of “the outsider” you don’t consider that doing business can be done only in the way “as it has always been”, but you are open to change and consider other possibilities.
Last, but not of lesser relevance of importance, I do believe in respect and integrity. I don’t believe in handing out solutions or recipes of success. In my opinion, it is not possible to simply copy paste previous successful experience in other countries and context to achieve the same results. But, we can use some of these experiences creating the proper mix contextualizing them with the needs of the market that we operate in, so that we can be the leading international business association in Albania.
What do you consider as the biggest challenges in Doing Business in Albania and how do you see the role of FIAA towards guaranteeing a sustainable growth of business in the country?
Albania is ranked 82 among 190 economies in the “ease of doing business index”, according to the latest World Bank annual ratings. Therefore, I believe that improvements are needed in the regulatory environment to further enhance business operation, including stronger protection of the rule of law and property rights. Albania has been working hard to move higher in this index, especially with the justice reform taking place in the last years, for which FIAA has been a full supporter. However, it is very vital to make more visibility and coherence to promote these improvements outside of the country to potential investors.
In your position as CEO of Intesa Sanpaolo Bank Albania, what are the challenges that your sector is facing in the operating environment and in the current global crisis?
The banking system has faced multiple crisis in the last 20 years so they have had the opportunity to proactively build strong capacities to overcome current and future crisis. The regulators are accelerating into the capacity to manage the risk and create a sustainable environment.
But crisis aside, it’s clear that the customer habits and the digitalization will bring the need to improve the service models and define the right combination of technologies and human interaction. I still believe that even with the introduction of the new typology of virtual or automated branches, the personal relationship remains central but must have updated skills.
How do you foresee the development of the Albanian economy in the coming years?
I remain optimist on the development of the Albanian Economy, the speed and the strength will depend on strategies which will be taken.
The Albanian economy is mainly focused on trade and other services activity. Enterprises registered during 2021 in trade activity are 29.9% of total registered enterprises. Trade activity realizes the biggest annual turnover in the economy, with 39.6%. In Albania, agriculture is the most important contributor to the economy with almost 20% of the total. Also, trade, transport, accommodation and food services activities with a weight in structure by 16.17 % , followed by public administration, education, human health that also has a big impact with 12.29 % in the total economy.
I foresee further expansion in the energy and infrastructure sectors with important projects being launched lately, in addition, agriculture and tourism (even the combination agro-tourism) that can be further developed with the support of EU loan instruments and local banks cooperation and surely construction/real estate.
However, the most important development must be in the Human Capital. Thus, the education system shall be more connected with the economy, to attract and keep the youngsters in Albania, with the right salary and matching their academic background and efforts.
In addition, the businesses in the country must increase the level of investments in technology to attract the capital intensive industries.
This combination (the development of the human capital and increased technological investments) will allow a sustainable growth in a Country with excellent chances for the future.