Zoran Janković was born on 1 January 1953 in the village of Saraorci near Smederevo, where he spent his childhood. Subsequently, his family moved to Ljubljana, where he first attended Valentin Vodnik Primary School and Kette and Murn Primary School. He continued his education at Poljane High School and then graduated successfully from Ljubljana University’s Faculty of Economics.
Zoran Janković’s professional career began before he had finished his studies in 1978 in the investment sector at the Slovenian Post Office. Between 1979 and 1984 he represented the Grič Zagreb business as a sales manager and was appointed as acting director of Mercator Investa in 1984, where he worked until 1988. Between 1988 and 1990 he was vice president of Emona SOZD and acting general manager of Emona VPS. In 1990, he founded the Electa company, of which he was director until 1997. In the autumn of that year, Zoran Janković was appointed CEO of retailer Mercator, which he successfully led until November 2005, when representatives of the largest shareholders released him from his duties with no fault attached on his part.
Almost exactly a year later, on 22 October 2006, receiving 62.99% of the votes cast by the citizens of Ljubljana in the first round, he was overwhelmingly elected Mayor of the capital of the Republic of Slovenia. In the parallel election for the City Council, his list of candidates took a majority of the votes cast, and in his first term of office 23 candidates from Zoran Janković’s List were elected to the 45-member council.
At that time, in addition to his work on individual projects, Mayor Zoran Janković, with various colleagues from Mercator, also reshaped the management team of the City of Ljubljana, and transformed the motivation of the city administration and its project focus.
As well as in his office on Mestni trg (City Square), the people of Ljubljana can come across him seven days a week anywhere, at the market, sports fields, in nursery schools and on construction sites. His personal communication is still characterised by his broad smile and instantaneous perception of a problem, knowing how to listen to each application submitted, above all, how to solve multiple problems effectively, always for the benefit of the majority and never to the detriment of minorities.
His tolerance and multicultural awareness are confirmed by providing the conditions for the construction of the Islamic religious-cultural centre and the start of construction in Ljubljana of a Serbian Orthodox Church cultural and pastoral centre. Under the leadership of the current mayor the city has gained new impetus; above all, as a European capital with an adopted vision of spatial development to 2025, he has given Ljubljana back its sense of optimism in a future that is modern, but to the individual a friendly, well-kept and safe place.
In strong competition between global capitals (Vienna, Lisbon, St Petersburg, Riga, Guadalajara and Wellington), as its programme was the most persuasive, a UNESCO commission awarded Ljubljana the title of World Book Capital 2010. Ljubljana was 5th on Forbes magazine's list of ‘Europe's Most Idyllic Places to Live’, while Ljubljana won a Readers Digest magazine survey conducted to find the most honest city in the world. According to research data it is also the safest city in SE Europe.
For the second time in the first round, on Sunday 10 October 2010, Zoran Janković took a majority of votes cast (64.79%) and was duly elected as Mayor of the Slovenian capital. Once again, his List took most voters’ support, and won 25 seats on the 45-member City Council.
For the third time in the first round, on Sunday 25 March 2012, he won a majority of votes cast (60.99%) and was duly elected as Mayor of the Slovenian capital.
At the mayoral elections on 5 October, 2014 the voters have entrusted Zoran Janković with another mandate as a Mayor of the City of Ljubljana. Receiving 57.5 % of votes he was again voted in the first round of the elections.
Zoran Janković has won as many as 13 top prizes and awards for his successful work in the field of economics:
the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce’s award for outstanding economic achievement (2001);
- ‘Manager of the Year 2002’ from the Manager’s Association (2002);
- ‘Best Director of 2003’ awarded by Kapital magazine (2003);
- ‘Foremost Manager’ awarded by Manager magazine, the Primus award for excellence in communication awarded by the Slovenian Public Relations Society, the Slovenian Chamber of Commerce and Managers’ Association (all in 2003);
- ‘Director of 2004’ by Kapital magazine and ‘Foremost Director’ by Manager magazine and Kline & Partner (2004);
- ‘Director 2005’ by Kapital magazine and ‘Foremost Director’ researched by Kline & Partner (2005);
- ‘Best Director 2006’ from Kapital magazine and ‘Best Director’ as chosen by the readers of Nedeljski dnevnik newspaper;
- 'Person of the Year' in the field of politics (2006) and
- 'the 'Best manager' award (2009) awarded by Direkcija for the selection of the best manager in Bosnia and Herzegovina, South East and Central Europe (in Sarajevo).
At the end of May 2008 French newspaper Libération, prior to the official start of the French Presidency of the Council of the EU, published a list of 36 individuals from the 27 EU member states that would shape tomorrow's Europe. Among them there were politicians, business leaders, theatre and film directors, fashion designers, lawyers, commissioners of the EU and ministers, teachers, religious leaders, journalists, diplomats and just one mayor – Zoran Janković, Mayor of the City of Ljubljana. As noted in the pages of the Paris newspaper, Zoran Janković is a successful businessman, who was elected Mayor of Ljubljana in the first round of the 2006 election and embodies the Slovenian success story.
At the end of May 2011, Mayor of Ljubljana Zoran Janković received a plaque as honorary citizen of the city of Chengdu, China for his services in strengthening the traditionally good relations between the sister cities of Ljubljana and Chengdu.
The City Mayors Foundation, which promotes good city governance around the world, named Zoran Janković as its Mayor of the Month in December 2011, and he was among its 25 best mayors in the world of 2012.
In 2015, in Sarajevo, he received the Best Mayor of the Decade in South-East and Central Europe recognition awarded by the European Association of Managers. A year later, the Braća Karić Foundation awarded the prize in the field of economy and development of the city.
Zoran Janković and his party (Zoran Janković’s List – Positive Slovenia) ran in pre-term elections to the Republic of Slovenia’s National Assembly, which were held on 4 December 2011. Zoran Janković’s List – Positive Slovenia took 28.51% of the votes cast, the most by any single party. Zoran Janković became an MP in the National Assembly.
In addition to his highly successful business career, until the end of his mandate in October 2011, Zoran Janković was also President of the University of Ljubljana Faculty of Economics Alumni Club.
Throughout his life, Zoran Janković has also been a great sports' lover. He was President of the Slovenian Handball Association for eight years and the 2004 European Men's Championship was organised under his leadership, in which the Slovenian team took the silver medal. In 2005 the Slovenian Handball Association awarded him the title of its first and only Honorary President. In his own words, handball remains one of his greatest loves.
Zoran Janković is married to Mija Janković and is the father of two adult sons, Damijan and Jure, as well as being the proud grandfather.