A businessperson's guide to the orchestra

Updated: Jan 29, 2019

By: Bryn Bailer for the Czech Business Weekly

When businesses are progressive enough to analyze and adopt operating principles from other professional disciplines—including the music world—the results can have the sweet "sound" of success.

That is the view of classically trained violinist Bibi Pelić, who will share her findings this Feb. 27 at Music and Leadership: The Search of Excellence, a two-hour seminar co-sponsored by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. Pelić, a noted recording artist and soloist, has performed with the Chamber Orchestra of the Czech Philharmonic, the Moravian Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Belgrade Symphony Orchestra, and played at venues throughout Europe, including Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Italy and Switzerland. Her father, the former general manager of a Yugoslavian import-export firm, moved the family from her birth town of Belgrade, to Australia, then to Austria, and eventually back to Yugoslavia. She moved to Prague in 1988, shortly before the Velvet Revolution, to study the violin. "We live in a certain age when people are searching for new creative inspirations. Music is one of the options." Pelić said regarding the mixing of the musical and commercial worlds.

Just as the chief executive officer of a large corporation can be compared to the conductor of a classically organized symphony orchestra, Pelić says, the organizational and cross-departmental challenges faced by corporate employees can be compared to the dynamics between musicians who play different instruments but must harmonize in performance.

Pelić adds that she has already taught these principals to executives within international companies such as mobile telephone network operator T-Mobile, logistics firm DHL International, hotel operator Hilton Hotels Corporation, and banks Komerční banka and Československá obchodní banka (ČSOB), as well as to staff members at the British, Canadian and U.S. embassies.

A glance at the well-stocked bookcase in Pelić's Prague apartment reveals the breadth of her interests, from the sheet music to Johann Sebastian Bach's "Sonaten und Partiten" to a recent hardback copy of an autobiography by American industrialist and former Chrysler CEO Lee Iacocca.

"Whether you're interpreting a Mozart symphony, or giving a presentation on a new product or your vision for the next year for a company, the same rules apply," she says. "It all boils down to thought process."

Q: Why do you think people are interested in this concept?

A: Music is natural, universal, very closely connected to our human nature. Business can be more distanced, more technical. Business is basically about figures, about making sure everything adds up ... but if you think of all the really great deals and great products out there, they happened with a bit of inspiration.

This is one of the areas where music can actually help—to enable this moment of inspiration to come. It is as if you were unprepared for it, but you are not. We can all do it, it's part of all of us, and this inspiration is what the business w