Izkušnja: Gregor Tehovnik

ONE WAY TICKET TO ASIA

Gregor bought a one way ticket to Asia right after his studies at SEB LU. From meditating in India, free diving in Thailand, job searching in Singapore, exploring Sri Lanka to soul searching in Nepal – a journey of a thousand small steps to discover himself, the meaning of life, and his career desires. 

A brave move – one way ticket to Asia. Where did you start the journey and where did it take you? 

I started my journey in India, where I decided to go to a meditation center for 14 days. After that, I met up with a friend and went to Leh Ladahk in the Himalayas, where we explored this scenic Buddhist region with a motorbike. 

Following India we went to Thailand for some scuba diving, free diving, island hopping and other fun activities. One great thing about unplanned travelling are spontaneous decisions, so after Thailand I continued my journey to Singapore and stayed there for a month. Overall, Singapore is one of my favorite cities – big skyscrapers, the world’s most known companies, startups and banks, futuristic trains, and expats from all over the world. 

From highly developed Singapore, I headed towards Sri Lanka where I met up with my cousin and her partner. After one month of exploring the beaches, jungle, and local culture, I felt like I needed to go back to India before finally returning home. I joined a 14 day yoga retreat center and that is where I met my future wife. We decided to travel the country together and even extended our travels to Nepal.  

Asia, for me, was a place to think about life, myself, and the next chapter of my career. Not to mention, Asia is the fastest growing region and is becoming the new central hub of economic activity and trade. After  6 months abroad I had a totally different view of life so I was eager to start acting on my new ambitions and dreams. 

6 months abroad is quite a long time. How did travelling affect you?

When you travel, you have as much time as you need by yourself to think about the important things. Time slows down and nobody is putting expectations on you and telling you what to do and what not to do. This also made me think about my future career path. After seeing all the pollution in these emerging cities, the population explosion, and the path where our society is heading, I knew that I would like to work in renewable energy and sustainable development. 

At that time, I really pushed myself and started studying this topic – sustainability and green energy. I had a plan for my career – to do something to really be proud of, not only in terms of being successful and making money, but also contributing to the world and our society. 

You mentioned that you decided about your next career step while travelling. To plan is one thing, but how did you convert the plan into action? 

My story continues in Australia – my wife’s home country. At that time Australia had just introduced the work and holiday visa for Slovenians, which allowed me to find a job there. Renewables were a booming industry there and I was determined to find a job opportunity in this area. 

I started as a salesman of solar PV systems, which was a very difficult job for me. I knocked on thousands of doors, and needless to say I was rejected more than 99% of the time. Door to door, over and over again. Even though it was hard, I kept this job for a few months because the commission was good and I felt like I was growing career wise. One of the things I learned the most is how to deal with rejection and not giving up even when things are tough. I also became a decent salesman :).  

After that job, I wanted to also get some more practical-technical experience in the industry. My goal was to get enough knowledge and experience to start my own renewable company back in Slovenia. This time I joined a smaller solar installation company where I took on installations of small PV systems.  

Once my working visa expired, my girlfriend and I moved to Slovenia, where we soon got married. Back then the solar PV industry was just re-establishing itself in Slovenia and was a perfect time to start-up a solar PV retail and installation company. All that time I spent working in this industry, I learned a lot of do’s and don’ts, I became a confident salesman and I had a good idea on how this emerging new industry would develop. 

After my first business venture, I wanted to pivot into wholesale distribution of renewable energy technologies. So I started searching for an international company with a goal to establish a joint venture in Slovenia. After finally coming across someone interested, I started to work with them initially as a regional sales manager, but after a while we managed to establish a new joint venture – GreenSun Adria. Today we are already one of the leading players in the Slovenian and Adriatic markets as a B2B renewable energy distributor specialising in Photovoltaics, Smart technologies, Storage systems and EV charging. 

I think we all can learn a great deal from our past experiences. What would be your message to students? 

There are quite a few things I think are important. One is the benefit of traveling – especially backpacking. I know it is a bad time to say that, due to the pandemic, but it should pass. When you travel you get to know yourself, meet exceptional people with different backgrounds, and learn from other cultures. It is also a good opportunity to really contemplate and understand your why`s.

We are all locked in a bubble, either a comfort, social or a cultural one. I think it is important to escape the bubble from time to time. Believe me, it is good to see what is on the other side, especially after a long lockdown ;). Adventures are just waiting for you. You can learn and experience so many new things. But, it is also important to remember that you can always come back to the comfort and safety of your bubble, hopefully as a slightly better version of yourself.  

Lastly, I think it is important that you find some sort of a problem – social, environmental, or other issues that enable you to contribute positively. Because, only if you believe in what you do and really care, you will put all the necessary energy into building something big and meaningful. 

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