From The Straits Times    |

croatian president

Photo: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović/Facebook


Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović recently made headlines for her sophisticated mien at the World Cup finals between her country and France. More than just a pretty face in a male-dominated world, Grabar-Kitarović has carved a niche for herself and stands testament to the limitless abilities and reach of women worldwide.

Grabar-Kitarović is the first female president of Croatia, and of an eastern European nation. She leads the nation as the head of state and the parliament. Besides having been Croatia’s ambassador to the United States of America, quadrilingual Grabar-Kitarović was also the first female Assistant Secretary General for public diplomacy in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from 2011 to 2014, the highest-ranking post that a woman has chaired. In 2017, Forbes named her as the 39th Most Powerful Women.

With such outstanding achievements, she is a role model for all of us. Here are some lessons we can learn from her.


Never stop learning

croatian president

Photo: Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović/Facebook


Not just settling with her Master’s degree in international relations from the University of Zagreb, Grabar-Kitarović was also a Fulbright scholar at George Washington University, a Luksic fellow at Harvard University and a visiting scholar at John Hopkins University.

Besides being fluent in her native Croatian language, Grabar-Kitarović is also fluent in English, Spanish and Portuguese. Adding to that list, she is also reported to have basic understanding in German, French and Italian. Her proficiency in multiple languages allows her to understand and be sensitive to other cultures, while being an effective communicator to her European peers.  

Despite starting her presidency in 2015 at the age of 46, Grabar-Kitarović continues to challenge and improve herself by pursuing her doctorate in international relations at the Zagreb Faculty of Political Science.

How does she make time for running a nation, plus pursuing further learning? That says a lot about her thirst for knowledge.




Believe in yourself


In an interview with The Global Conversation, Grabar-Kitarović gave advice to women who are ambitiously fighting against the glass ceiling in a male-dominated world, she said: “you just have to believe in it, believe in yourself.”

While she has admitted that it has not always been a smooth-sailing journey to the top, she firmly believes in herself: “there is always a first, why don’t you be the first?” And we can’t agree more.


Lead by example

croatian president

Photo: Agence France-Presse


Like a fervent football fan, Grabar-Kitarović flew to Moscow to support her country at the World Cup matches. Rather than taking a private jet or flying first-class, she reportedly flew economy. A jersey that bore the symbol of the Croatian flag was her outfit of choice as she cheered within the stands.

The most heartfelt moment was when she consoled national footballer Luka Modrić, who had won the Golden Ball award despite the country’s loss to France in the finale. Finally, as a sign of good sportsmanship, Grabar-Kitarović congratulated the French team for their victory and later commended and celebrated how far the Croatian team had come this year.

Anyone who understands how to be gracious even when they’ve lost is truly a winner too.



In her own words, Croatian President Kolinda Grabar-Kitarović said in The Global Conversation interview: “If you want to change it, you have to start doing something about it yourself.” Clearly, she walks the talk.