The Electronic Retailing Association

Sandi Češko, Studio Moderna, was awarded the 2017 EMMA Lifetime Achievement Award in Venice

Maja Umek gives the Laudation for Sandi Češko

The Laudation for Sandi Češko was held for him by someone who knows him really well - Maja Umek, Sales Director at Studio Moderna.

We wanted to publish Maja's speech here, primarily for those of you who could not attend the EMMA awards this year, but we hope that those of you who were there will enjoy reliving Maja's emotional speech which provided the high point of the evening.

Sandi Češko accepts the 2017 EMMA Lifetime Achievement Award from Dr. Julian Oberndörfer, CEO ERA Europe.

"When I first told Sandi, now Chairman of the Board of Studio Moderna Group, that he might be awardee of the ERA Europe Lifetime Achievement award, his first comment was “Am I that old already?”

No Sandi, you’re not, but in these past years you have achieved so many great things, have started so many projects no one else dared, to a point when people sometimes thought you have lost it. Your ideas are sometimes so crazy, that people just shake their heads in disbelief, but we know that one of your biggest challenges is, to make the impossible new reality. We’re here today, to honour your entrepreneurial spirit, enthusiasm, perseverance, ingenuity, and … the list is long.

Smiles all round after Maja's wonderful laudation and Sandi's heartwarming acceptance speech

Sandi Češko comes from a small town in central Slovenia, a country that people rarely know how to pinpoint on the map, but has regardless become one of the most respected entrepreneurs not only in his homeland, but also internationally.

As a political science student he got involved in politics, and it was in Belgrade, former capital of Yugoslavia, where Sandi met his future business partner Branimir Brkljač. It took Branimir two years to persuade Sandi to go into the DRTV business and the history started in 1996 when Sandi gave in and agreed to launch our Top Shop operations on top of Kosmodisk that we had been selling for years already. And when Sandi decides to go into something, he does it 'all in'. So our first years were dedicated to territorial growth – on average we added three new markets a year and the company started to grow fast. Very soon he realised that we were too dependent on third party products, so he pushed us to create own brands. This was something unheard of in the industry, but we are now celebrating 15 years of Dormeo – our first brand and are proud to say that our brands now represent more than 70% of our revenues and are being launched internationally. But Sandi’s mind never rests, and he is always very carefully monitoring what is happening around the world, so we started to develop different sales channels. He can now say with pride, that he led Studio Moderna to become one of the biggest multichannel retailers in the region with almost 7000 employees in more than 20 markets.

As we come from the most turbulent parts of Europe, it was far from easy – he had to overcome difficulties of wars, changes of government and political regimes, economic crisis, you name it. But Sandi is a person who loves challenges.

Sandi is now often called to comment on current European economic affairs, is a lecturer at the Harvard post graduate business school, mentor to young entrepreneurs and a member of several international organisations. He has supported ERA since the beginning, as Studio Moderna was one of the founding companies of ERA Europe and always the one to lead change in the industry.

Sandi Češko surrounded by his family and with Maja Umek who, we think you will agree, gave such a great speech for him.

He is the father of two beautiful teenage girls and husband to his supportive wife. He loves good food and is a true connoisseur of fine wines in the region. A person that has straight forward goals does not have a goal in one thing – jogging; ask him how many miles he plans to run this year (and he will do a lot) and his response will be, that he does not run for a goal. He just loves to run.

Sandi, thank you also for being my mentor and for teaching me that arrogance has no place in business."

by Maja Umek, Studio Moderna