Supporting Media Leadership: Key Insights from the Executive Learning Series

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Navigating Strategy, Ethics, and Innovation in the evolving European media landscape

The Executive Learning Series, a distinctive programme implemented by Thomson, has successfully concluded. Aimed at empowering media leaders across Europe, this unique initiative brought together 25 media professionals from 13 different countries, conducting sessions in three cities—Warsaw, Skopje, and Belgrade. Through a carefully curated series of workshops, participants learned to anticipate future trends, develop strategic thinking, and assess their achievements effectively.

ELS participants with trainers, experts and Thomson team

Warsaw: Masterclass on Foresight 

The program commenced in Warsaw with a masterclass on foresight.titled “How to Envision the Future: Foresight and Scenario Building”, the session was designed to heighten awareness about the future directions of the media market and provided attendees with practical tools to envision and plan for the future of their own media organisations.

One of the sessions in Warsaw

The Warsaw masterclass featured a packed agenda, beginning with an introduction to strategic foresight and advancing through exercises on the Three Horizons of Growth, backcasting, and scenario planning. Highlights included a guest lecture by Veselin Vačkov on heuristic foresight for creating new revenue streams and personal development journaling to reinforce daily learnings.

“We’ve realised that it’s not just enough for us to produce a product but also to understand why we make it, how we make it, how we market it, and how we reach our audience. This brings us to the question of how much our organisation needs to change, and most of us indeed need to, as we have relied on more traditional methods. Now organisations – especially media – are businesses we need to engage in.” 

Jelisaveta Miletić,, Serbia

Skopje: Strategic Thinking 

The second leg of the program in Skopje centred on strategic thinking with a masterclass titled “How to Think Strategically: Making Strategy an Easy and Daily Tool for Effective Transformation.” This session highlighted the crucial role of strategic thinking in everyday managerial tasks, emphasising that organisations should consistently incorporate strategic considerations into their operations.

Second Masterclass in Skopje

Participants delved into various strategy frameworks and tools, investigated common reasons for strategy failures, and participated in a stakeholder mapping exercise. The program also featured a guest lecture by Jernej Verbič on generating new revenue streams and included a “speed-dating” exercise to encourage potential collaborations among attendees.

“I took these sessions as an opportunity to think more about the future, the strategy, and what will happen in ten years. It is a rare opportunity to be more reflective, and I take it as a significant advantage of this series. I realised that things could affect our media in ten years; it has concrete effects on how we will operate. That was one of the most important insights for me.” 

Jan Bělíček, Deník Alarm, Czech Republic

Belgrade: Measuring Success 

The concluding session in Belgrade focused on measuring success and was titled “How to Measure Success: Defining Key Metrics for Organisational Development and Continuous Improvement.” 

Opening of the Belgrade Masterclass by Caro Kriel, CEO of Thomson

This masterclass aimed to provide participants with the skills to define success, set realistic goals, and develop effective performance assessment systems. 

Teamwork marked the final session in Belgrade

It included practical exercises on value and impact measurement. Highlights of the session included a guest lecture by Larisa Halilović on the GESI framework and peer reviews of organisational projects.

Interactive session with guest lecturer Larisa Halilović

Impact and Future Prospects 

The Executive Learning Series offered tailored insights and practical skills, empowering media professionals to excel in the rapidly evolving European media landscape. Participants reported increased confidence, clarity, and resilience as key benefits from their experience.

“Open and free media in Central Europe and the Western Balkans has never been more under attack. Revenues are collapsing, threats deepening and politics becoming ever more polarised. That’s why we feel it’s important to create safe spaces for media executives in the hardest hit places to come together, share experiences and find ways to survive together. And these events are doing just that” 

David Quin, Thomson’s Managing Director – Development 

In addition to enhancing participants’ professional skills, the program cultivated a community of forward-thinking media leaders ready to drive impactful change within their organisations. With diverse perspectives and strategic foresight, these media professionals are now better equipped to navigate challenges and guide their organisations toward a sustainable future.

The events were part of a series of programmes implemented by Thomson for the projects ‘Media Innovation Europe’ – run in conjunction with International Press Institute (IPI) and funded by Creative Europe; ‘Western Balkans Media for Change’ – run in conjunction with the British Council and funded by the UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO); and ‘Deepening Digital’ – Thomson’s media support programme in Central Europe.

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