The NBLC Challenge

To effect real and meaningful change, abstract theory needs to be translated into concrete reality. From its very beginning, the Nordic-Baltic Leadership Course has sought to do this - and to challenge its participants just that little bit extra. This is why between the first and second course weekend, the participants are working in smaller groups on special projects that will culminate before an external jury in Sigtuna, Sweden. The NBLC Challenge asks the groups to apply their problem-solving, teamwork and leadership skills to the fullest, by developing and pitching a concrete and feasible solution to an identified problem in the YFU world right now.

The Jury

Lending us their diverse experience, rich knowledge and unique perspectives on leadership, we are extremely proud to present our external three-person jury. They will be joining us during the NBLC Challenge Pitching Night on Thursday the 8th of February, bringing their expertise and keeping the participants on their toes.

Jury Member #1 - Veronika Kissiova

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Veronika's YFU story started like most - by going on exchange and getting infected by the YFU spirit abroad. Later beginning her university studies in Prague, she quickly got recruited as a volunteer. Here her fascination for the educational aspect of the YFU programs took form. After having organized all of the YFU seminars nationally she started taking on international roles, including being part of the team initiating the creation of LOOP, doing an internship in YFU Chile and becoming an ETN trainer.

One of the highlights of Veronika’s YFU career was being the Content Team Coordinator for the YES 2013. In the same year, she also did an internship in EEE-YFU where she among other things worked on advocacy-related issues, representing YFU in the European Youth Forum and many European Institutions. Veronika has also been in the EEE-YFU Board, was part of the team revising the LOOP in 2017 and was awarded YFU World Volunteer of the Year 2014. 

Veronika started her professional life as a consultant at Accenture, one of the largest technology consulting companies in the world. There her YFU experience served her well, with well-practiced organizational skills and an aptitude for quickly adapting to new environments. With a stop as the Foreign Markets Manager for a Czech retail startup, she’s now back at Accenture (but this time in Stockholm, where she currently lives) as a project coordinator.


To Veronika, leadership means being an outstanding example for the people you work with. It means inspiring, not only through results but also by the way you achieve them. In order to do that she firmly believes a leader should strive to create an environment where you find the right balance between challenge and support needed to improve, on both the professional and personal level.

Jury Member #2 - Thomas Bergström

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Early on, Thomas Bergström was intrigued by leadership and helping other people to grow. As a coach and leader in sports, he could already at a young age take on responsibilities and become a role model for others; all while learning and developing on personal level himself. Today he is immensely grateful for being allowed to progress without constant oversight and being allowed to make mistakes.

Thomas has been active in sports all his life, and has been working at a Swedish national sports federation in various positions for eleven years. His last role was as Sport Development Manager, before December 2017 moving on to his next challenge in life: taking on the role of being the National Director of YFU Sweden & YFU Norway.

Leadership for Thomas is about creating engagement in co-workers and team members. He believes that by doing so, it’s possible to create changes in attitude and behavior where motivation and self-sacrifice increases. To him, this is achieved through reflection and consciously taking on daily actions, that helps you to develop together and reaching higher efficiency.

In Thomas’ own words:

"As a leader you should develop people, find each person’s inner motivation, their abilities and skills. It is more about providing support, inviting, giving responsibilities, stimulating and challenging - than controlling, overseeing and correcting deviations. I want to create active co-creators."

Jury Member #3 - Tanja Ilic

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“If you are not passionate about what you do: change. Do something different”.

With that motto as a guiding star, Tanja Ilic has mastered taking the winding path forward. Starting out her career as a PE teacher, she later moved on to Stockholm School of Economics for an MBA. With a short stop in the military where she worked for UN forces as a translator, Tanja has since worked in the finance, exchange, fast moving consumer goods, property, real estate transport, IT and telecom industry. She recently changed track again: switching from CEO of one of Sweden’s largest property and real estate companies to face new challenges as the CEO for a start-up firm.

Tanja loves sports and used to swim on a fairly high level. As a swimmer, she early on started to think about goals and targets, which she today brings into her role of coaching athletes. Her curiosity and drive to learn new things has led her to having lived in more than ten different countries and visiting about 100, making the world her home in the process.

Her leadership instincts are driven by coaching and listening, as well as always being courageous. Tanja believes that as a leader you do not need to have all the answers, the focus should be on how you maximize all the talent you have around you and making the team work together as one. To achieve that, she is a firm believer in clear goals and having co-workers that are passionate.

How does one maintain that passion? In Tanja’s own words: “Do not become a slave under a paycheck. Always treasure life. As far as I know, we only have one.”