Zofija Mazej Kukovič has broad experience in business and politics in Slovenia and the European Union. She served as CEO of Esotech, an environmental engineering company, as the Slovenian Minister of Health, and as a Member of the European Parliament. She is a regular speaker at Universities and conferences in Slovenia and abroad. Zofija has published two books about her life and her work: Simple Philosophies for Tough Times, about her time as CEO of Esotech, and Požen’ Evropo? ( Start Up Europe) about her time as a Member of the European Parliament sharing best practices of growing food for health and new employment opportunities in Slovenia.
CEO of Esotech: Zofija took over part of the company for coal mine equipment in 1991, Eso Montaža, and made successful transition into the market economy after Slovenian independence. She redifined and implemented company strategy into environmental engineering company with European and Chinese market outreach. Zofija has served as CEO from 1991-2007.
Minister of Health: As Slovenian Minister of Health, from 2007 – 2008, Zofija achieved many milestones for her country, including the completion of the Pediatric and Neurological Clinic in Ljubljana; the adoption of the Mental Health Act; the adoption of the Law on Patients? Rights; and the adoption of the Long-term Health Care Resolution. During the Slovenian Presidency of the European Union, she chaired the Council of Ministers of Health. The comprehensive management of cancer was one of the key conclusions of the presidency, which became one of Europe?s new political priorities.
From 2010-2014 she was a Member of the City Council of Slovenian Capital Ljubljana working in the Committee of Economic Affairs.
Member of European Parliament : In 2009, in accordance with the Treaty of Lisbon, Zofija was elected to the European Parliament. After its successful ratification, she was made a full Member of the European Parliament in December 2011 withing European People?s Party. Zofija was a shadow rapporteur for seven reports for European Parliament.
As a Member of European Parliament, she was acting in the ENVI- Committee for Environment and Health and in the ITRE – Committee on Industry, Research and Energy. She was a Member of the permanent Delegation to India. More detailed references and content from the time in European Parliament can be found at www.europa.eu MEP ZOFIJA MAZEJ KUKOVIČ.
During her time ad MEP, she launched the initiative Požen? Evropo (Start Up Europe) to encourage active participation and discussion about growing food as a new employment opportunity for young people in Slovenia. Zofija?s mandate ended in 2014.
In 2015, she retired with a vision that now is her time, when she can create only in the areas that are empowering her and answer the needs of people on international level.
She has become an active member of FMA - Former Members Association of the European Parliament, based in Brussels. As part of the Campus program she occasionally lectures in the Universities in Europe, about the mission of European Institutions. In her home village she co-develops programs and initiatives that encourage people to connect with Nature and themselves.
In 2016, she was appointed as a Member of the Management Board of the European Agency for control and protection of disease ECDC, located in Stockholm. She has been representative for the European Parliament. In this institution she acts as a member of Audit Committee and a member of the Steering Committee for External Evaluation.
In 2018, she was elected out of 28 representatives of the EU Countries and the representatives of European Commission and European Parliament, as a Deputy Chair of ECDC Management Board. She is strongly committed to the European Value, to ECDC mission-to protect European citizens from the communicable disease and tendency towards a stronger cooperation of the Countries of European Union.
Zofija attended primary school in Šoštanj at a time of intense industrialization, where many people moved out of their villages. Uncommon for girls at the time, she enrolled in the Electro-technical High School in Velenje. She continued her studies while working, and in 1980 she graduated from University of Maribor, Slovenia with a major in Informatics. She then went on to obtain a BS in Electrical engineering from the same University. In 1996, she finalized an Executive MBA from International Executive Development Center Bled Slovenia.
2007: Association for Project Management recognition for the development of project management in Slovenia
2006: Delo newspaper Person of the Year in the field of Business and Economy
2002: Jožef Štefan Institute award for knowledge transfer from research institutions into businesses
Civil initiatives and Associations
Zofija is active in many civil associations. She was president of the Šmartno ob Paki football club, chair of Nature protection network Smrekovec, and a member of many humanitarian associations. She was one of the founding members of the Executive Board of Europa Donna for the fight against breast cancer. She has organized and given lectures at both Slovenian and international conferences on environmental protection and related issues on health, business excellence, innovation and knowledge transfers from research institutions into real world applications. Before taking the position of Minister of Health, she was a member of numerous professional associations; among others, a member of the Board of Združenje Manager and a member of the Board of the Gospodarsko Združnica Slovenije (Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Slovenia), for the SAŠA region.