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We Must be Ready to Change
18. February 2021.
Viewed globally, the current pandemic has taught us all flexibility at work; however, for many people it has also meant taking away job safety. In Hemofarm, it has never been questioned and our employees are aware of that. Both before and during the pandemic, they could count on their salaries ¬¬– considerably higher than those in most industries in Serbia and paid in neatly on the same day of the month, they could count on ‘13th month salary’, holiday bonus, private health insurance and other benefits. These are only a few reasons why prospects in Hemofarm have always been good.

‘Obviously, today’s Hemofarm cannot be compared with that company from the last century because we live in different times now. If Hemofarm had not been changing on its way, it would not have been what it is today – one of the most successful companies in this area. As in other industries, if you are not ready for changes, you end up on the ash heap of history. That very readiness to change, learn and constantly improve, both ourselves and our products, helped us to survive’, said Tatjana Jovanović, Director of Human Resources of Hemofarm in the interview for Nova Ekonomija /New Economy/.

Hemofarm has existed for six decades and starting as a company with 30 employees, it has reached the today’s figure of 3,500 employees. It has been a member of the STADA Group since 2006. According to the Director of Human Resources, this international company leaves its members plenty of space for individual approach. ‘On the one hand, we are part of a large system which offers plenty of opportunities for progress, yet we have retained our specific local traits and personal identity. Today, Hemofarm is a good place for all those who want to prove themselves and progress’.

• Does this mean that the Hemofarm of today is closer to younger generations or could it be a more pleasant place for work for middle-aged or elderly people?

In fact, we are somewhere in the middle. The average age of people in our company is 41. Our company is a pleasant environment for the people who already have certain expertise, yet it is welcoming enough for young people as well, who bring us something new, some new visions. I think we have managed to make a good blend of experience and youth, and the common denominator is that this company is looking for people with particular attitude. Knowledge and experience are important; you will acquire new skills or polish your skills, yet if you do not have a proper attitude towards work and attitude in general, then you will stick out like a sore thumb.

I think that young people who join us tend to be very surprised with what they are offered here: starting with the work in a large system, to a large number of education programmes, and almost limitless opportunities for promotion. We have quality and well-educated people and once they have acquired those practical skills in Hemofarm, they become highly desirable and recognised on the international level. For example, we currently have 85 of our Serbian colleagues who work at global posts for STADA.

• How much is the legacy of old Hemofarm felt, since you have lasted for more than six decades in spite of everything?

It is felt, in a positive way though. Hemofarm is very proud of its tradition. It never forgets what has been done, it values the things left in its trail, while its operation is still based on some of them. This is a success story of all those who are big, whether we are talking about nations or corporations – they never forget their own past and they build their future on it. I would say that we have managed to create a beautiful fusion between everything a modern company brings and a spirit of tradition and stability.

Speaking about the changing of the company over time, it certainly is different, but this is inevitable. The world itself is different now from what it used to be. Do you know what Tito offered to us, what Yugoslavia offered to us? We can now pine for those times or not, we can say that what we have today is better or worse, but the essence is that everything is different now. There are things that are better and there are things that are worse. We have certainly lost something in relation to those old times but on the other hand, we have also gained something. In the example of Hemofarm, we have benefited in the sense of occupational safety, product quality, and longevity. Had everything remained as it used to be, our product would not have been competitive and they would not have survived. Regrettably, this was the fate of many companies throughout the former Yugoslavia, companies that used to be very successful but that do not exist today. In a nutshell, they paid the price for not having adjusted to the times. This company has survived, persisted and become one of the most successful companies in the region and that is no small achievement.

• We are witnessing that employers outside Belgrade often complain that it is difficult to find staff, especially the highly professional staff since there is not enough of them in small towns. What are the current trends, have our people become more mobile and ready to travel to work outside their places of residence?

If we are talking about mobility within the country borders, our people are not very mobile in general. However, we tend to forget that this is a two-way street, since employers have been very rigid until recently and they have insisted that you should work on certain location. This pandemic has compelled us to do a lot of things from home, regardless of where you are seated. Naturally, here we do not mean the jobs in manufacturing facilities, quality control or similar services, because you have to be at your workplace to do that. However, the prospects have dramatically changed for many other jobs. This is certainly one of the good things that this crisis has brought for us, together with the heap of those bad ones.

• Having mentioned the pandemic, what other lessons have been learnt? And what are going to be the gravest consequences of this crisis, that started as a health crisis and has grown into an economic crisis?

As I have already mentioned, the most important lesson learnt is flexibility - flexibility and flexibility in work. This very flexibility will be the key to success in the future – both individual and company success. We should be able to predict what is going to happen and to adapt to the change, to change the track on time.

At the moment when the whole world has become uncertain due to the ongoing pandemic and when many companies go bust and lay off their employees, to have a safe job and work in an environment which offers certainty has become a benefit or should I even say luxury that unfortunately not many people in the world can afford nowadays. This is not questionable in Hemofarm and our employees are aware of that. If you add the fact that you know in advance when and in what conditions you are going to work, that your salary is not going to be late even for a single day, that you have the ‘13th month salary’ and the holiday bonus, that you have been paid for everything in accordance with the law and many more things on top of it, that you work in a well-organised environment with high standards of cleanliness and that for example, you have much higher chances of getting infected with coronavirus anywhere else but on your company premises, all these things must not be overlooked. Prospects in Hemofarm are more than positive.

• As someone who deals with people, how do you see the decade we live in, what will it bring before us as the greatest novelty?

Speaking about people, it will be important to keep abreast with the changes taking place in industry and technology, to be quick enough and skilful enough to adapt to new conditions in a way which would be best for us; to have certain agility or shrewdness to recognise the real opportunities, to be adaptable to the time we live in and to remain true to ourselves. This in fact means that we as individuals have to be ready to change constantly, to be open to learning new things in order to be able to follow that rhythm of changes. Such an organisation, which is growing and learning is of key importance in the ever-changing world, and this goes for each of us individually and for companies alike. Hemofarm has been growing through constant changing and it is therefore ready for the new times that have come, and each of us individually has to realise that there is no progress without embracing changes.