Read my story
Read my story
Founder and CEO
In 2012, when I founded Vlahovic Group, the idea of a professional, transparent government relations firm was misunderstood and unprecedented in Zagreb’s business and government communities. Yet as an entrepreneur, who first learned the political and diplomatic ropes in the early 2000s in Washington D.C. and in Brussels, I had a vision and a motivation to build a fully independent lobbying firm in the Western Balkans. Today, Vlahovic Group is comprised of people who have working experience in Croatian and EU institutions, bringing indispensable understanding and relationships. We are now recognized as an enterprise building bridges between the private sector and decisionmakers.
The COVID-19 era is a new opportunity for Vlahovic Group to deliver value for clients through strengthening our network in the region and expanding to Vienna, Austria. We added more value by boosting our digital policy expertise and by including an impressive array of senior advisors
Early Career (1999-2011)
I began my professional career in 1999 at the Embassy of the Republic of Croatia in Washington D.C., focusing on the promotion of the Croatian economy. I volunteered for the 2004 US Presidential Nomination Campaign of Governor Howard Dean. From 2005 to 2011, I was the head of the office of the Croatian Chamber of Small and Medium Enterprises (HOK). In that role, I was the Chamber’s main representative and lobbyist in EU institutions and the first lobbyist of a Croatian business association registered with the European Transparency Register in Brussels. In 2011, I participated in a two-week intensive professional lobbying workshop organized by the Public Affairs and Advocacy Institute at the American University in Washington, D.C.
Wanting to deeply understand the work I do, in 2012, I found a way to learn about lobbying from one of the most famous American lobbyists, the founder of the great law and lobbying company Patton Boggs (now Squire Patton Boggs), Thomas Hale “Tommy” Boggs.
Founding Vlahovic Group (2012-present)
Having gained experience in Brussels and Washington DC, I took over Vlahovic Group in 2012 from my father, who opened the company in 1991, at a moment when first private enterprise has been allowed after the breakup of former Yugoslavia.
My vision for VG was to offer clients a methodological approach to professional government relations, always abiding to ethics and regulatory compliance. I am proud to have achieved this goal. Today, Vlahovic Group is ready for the next chapter. I am now expanding into Vienna, looking at the city as a hub of global multinational corporations that need government relations support in the Western Balkans. I have established a strong regional network and have further invested in services for technology companies. I continue to lead the lobbying industry in Croatia towards regulation.
Croatian Parliament, Croatian Society of Lobbyists, AmCham Croatia and Croatia-EU Business Council
Developing lobbying as a regulated business sector in Croatia remains my long-term goal. I knew I had to build not only VG but also lobbying generally as a reputable, regulated industry, with a positive role in developing Croatia’s democracy and economy. I participated in founding the Croatian Society of Lobbyists in 2008. In 2013, I was elected president of the Croatian Society of Lobbyists and served for two terms, until 2017.
Since 2016, I have held the position of Untitled Governor at the American Chamber of Commerce in Croatia. My continuing role as an external member of the Croatian Parliament’s European Affairs Committee began in 2014. In 2005, I co-founded the Croatia-EU Business Council, the first Brussels-based organization advocating and promoting Croatian business interests in the EU and I currently act as Executive Director.
Teaching and Publishing
From 2005 to 2011, I led the first course on the topic of lobbying in the region, Introduction to Lobbying, at VERN University in Zagreb. I am an occasional guest lecturer on the field of lobbying and political advocacy at the Zagreb School of Economics and Management (ZSEM). I am a frequent columnist in the Croatian business weekly publication Lider, where I address economic issues and international relations. I also write opinion columns for Balkan Insider, a US political portal focused on the Western Balkans. I am the co-author of the chapter on lobbying in Croatia in the book Lobbying in Europe – Public Affairs and the Lobbying Industry in 28 EU Countries. In 2015, I co-authored the first book on professional lobbying in Croatia, A Professional Lobbyist – An Interest Advocacy Manual.
I graduated from Zagreb Classical High School, before earning a B.A. in Political Science and International Relations in 1999 from St. Francis College, Brooklyn, New York. I completed my MBA at the Bled School of Management in Slovenia in 2006 and my Master of Science degree from the University of Zagreb Faculty of Political Science, with a focus on the Croatian political system and public administration in 2007.
Natko Vlahovic, Founder and CEO of Vlahovic Group LLC
NEWS from Zagreb's St. Mark's Square
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