Petar Svarc (‘02), AUBG MultiTalent Quest Judge: “There’s no growth without challenge”
With the AUBG MultiTalent Quest 2020 fast approaching, we decided to introduce you to some of the masterminds behind the competition. Petar Svarc (‘02), Chief Judge of the DEBATE, Don't Hate discipline, says the Quest was a natural continuation of his long-term involvement with the university. And indeed, Petar is among AUBG’s most dedicated alumni – until recently he was part of the AUBG Alumni Association and he is partner and Head of Marketing and Sales of successful AUBG tech startup Melon. He is married to fellow alumna Vera Svarc (‘05), who is also on the organizing team of the Quest.
The AUBG MultiTalent Quest is a one-of-a-kind competition that challenges high school juniors in a variety of disciplines ranging from English and mathematics to the “hacking” of social challenges. The DEBATE, Don't Hate discipline of the Quests challenges the participants to prove their argumentative skills while working in teams. In this interview, Petar shares his insights on what makes a successful debater.
Tell us a bit about your life and career after graduation. What role did AUBG play in your personal and professional development?
I was recruited by a small software and new media start-up a few months before graduation. That start-up later merged with another AUBG software company to become Melon, my current workplace where I’m also one of the partners. I guess I’m what you’d call a “lifer”. Not planning to switch for the time being. Meanwhile, I fell in love and married a fellow AUBGer and MultiTalent Quest organizer. We have two kids, one of which is fast approaching the age of Quest participants, so looking forward to that! As you can see, all major accomplishments I owe to a great extent to AUBG and I like it that way.
You have been supporting the university in various capacities, more recently as part of the AUBG MultiTalent Quest. What prompted you to join the organizing team of the competition?
I’ve always had a feeling of owing something to the AUBG community, so I am actively involved in several initiatives, including – until recently – the Alumni Association board. Joining the MTQ team was a natural extension of that. Deyan [Vassilev, founder of the AUBG MultiTalent Quest] shared his idea, said he needed help and somewhat unwittingly I ended up on the organizational team. It’s good to mention that my contribution is very limited, not to mention that I probably annoy other organizers with my affinity towards process and structure. The best part of being part of the team is the palpable and infectious energy on campus during the event. Participants poison us with enthusiasm, we inject them experience.
You are Chief Judge of the “DEBATE, Don’t Hate” discipline of the Quest. What are the skills and mindset that you are looking for in a successful debater?
The scoring rules list three things – content, strategy and style. Content depends on how well prepared the debaters were. Strategy component looks for team work. Style is all about public speaking skills, but also language and vocabulary. One hidden component I like to insert into the scoring is grit. Not all competitors start with equal debating or public speaking experience. Approximately half of the participants have never done it before. In situations like this you need to show grit – being prepared to stand against the odds, give it your all and overcome yourself. I have much respect for this and it’s relatively easily noticed. Once there was a participant who stood up and had a total mind block. Couldn’t utter a word. I asked her to sit down and compose herself, after which she got up and gave a very solid performance. You’ve got to appreciate this. Many adults are incapable of making such a comeback. The other side of the coin also exists. If someone’s trying to be overly casual it can hurt their performance, including their team’s performance. This can affect your score negatively, if detected.
What would be your advice for the young people who are considering whether to apply for the AUBG MultiTalent Quest?
It’s better to regret something you did, then something you didn’t do. The best thing – there’s not a single thing you’ll regret if you come. Worst thing that can happen is that you have a small setback, but you’ll get a second chance and an opportunity to double the impression you leave on the jury, fellow competitors and, most importantly, yourself. There’s no growth without challenge. Plus, it is great fun, as far as us old people can tell from the sidelines and it really does seem like long-term, true friendships are born in these short two days.