Annual Fund support has enabled the LSE SU Polish Business Society to host the third Polish Economic Forum, which took place on 1 March. One of the biggest student conferences on campus, this year’s forum saw over 480 attendees and an impressive array of speakers, including: His Excellency Witold Sobków, Polish Ambassador to the UK; Professor Jan Vincent-Rostowski, former Deputy Prime Minister of Poland; Andrzej Klesyk, the CEO of Poland’s largest insurer; and Danuta Hübner, former European Commissioner for Regional Policy.
In addition LSE academics spoke at the event, including Associate Professor in the European Institute, Waltraud Schelkle, and Provost and Deputy Director, Professor Stuart Corbridge. Addresses to the conference came under the broad theme of ‘Poland. Europe. 2025.’, looking at prospects for Poland and its place in Europe by that year when it is expected to be wealthy enough to be a significant net contributor to the EU budget rather than the largest beneficiary which it currently is.
There were a total of eight keynote addresses and panel discussions, including ‘Britain and Poland: trading places?’ and ‘Will Poland become a start-up powerhouse?’
President of the LSESU Polish Business Society, Michal Leszczynski, felt the event was an unqualified success. “Some of our speakers called us a Polish student Davos,” he said. “Annual Fund support has been critical in getting us this far and we thank donors for their generosity. But by 2015, this will be self-sustainable – by strengthening the brand of both the Forum and the Society, we will continue to attract funding from current partners and other leading Polish companies.”
He added: “This will ensure our efforts will continue enabling the international community of students, academics and professionals to benefit from the insights of prominent speakers. Our aim is to become an annual must-attend event for anyone interested in Poland and its economy.”
With over 50 members, the Polish Business Society is one of the most popular national societies on campus, aiming to serve as a platform that links Polish students in the UK with businesses in Poland.
“It is our firm belief that one of the ways to contribute to the prosperity of the Polish economy is to encourage skilled and ambitious young people who had left Poland in pursue of world class education to return back home,” said Michal. “Not only to seek employment themselves but, by fulfilling their entrepreneurial spirit and implementing innovative ideas, to create employment and partake in this broadly defined ‘prosperity’.”
Michal Leszczynski is particularly conscious of philanthropic support outside of his work with the Society, being a recipient of the Kadas scholarship and speaking at this year’s Donors and Scholars event in the Senior Dining Room. In addition his predecessor as President, Jakub Szewczyk, is a recipient of the Stanislaw Karbownicki Undergraduate Scholarship, and Adam Krawiec of the Society’s organising committee receives The Jeremi Kroliczewski Educational Trust Scholarship. “Each of the Forum’s coordinators was supported by an LSE scholarship – none of us could afford to commit enough time and effort to make the Forum happen had it not been for this support ,” said Michal.
There are 60 current Polish students at LSE, with 365 alumni worldwide. Well known alumni include Stanisław Gomułka – undersecretary of state in the Polish Ministry of Finance and designer of the reforms that facilitated Polish transformation to a capitalist economy in the 90s, and Andrzej Raczko, board member at the National Bank of Poland and former Minister of Finance.
A video of highlights and interviews from the forum can be viewed online.