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Super Story #2 – Integrity in Business as a Guiding Star
19. March 2021.
New SUPER story takes us to Hemofarm Banja Luka. Let us introduce to our colleague Bilja Grkavac and find out, through her story, about the world of compliance and its importance for the operation of the whole company.

Everyone knows Biljana Grkavac at Hemofarm Banja Luka. As a Regional Manager and a member of the internal Compliance Team, Bilja noticeably contributes to raising awareness about this subject among her colleagues, regularly giving suggestions and ideas for process improvement, identifying key topics and proposing practical trainings relevant for further work.

As her colleagues say, this Herzegovinian woman is above all a good and honest person, a mentor to younger associates, a fair and self-critical leader who follows the rules not because it is so prescribed, but because her character does not allow her to act differently.

Talking to Bilja, we get to know the area of compliance from the point of view of a doctor who, speaking about her experience, introduces us to the world of a pharmaceutical company. Find out below why Bilja's story is - Hemofarm's SUPER story.

It is clear from talking to your colleagues that you attach great importance to compliance. What is such an approach based on?

Bilja: Honestly, that is something that I carry from my family. Primarily, the upbringing is crucial, but I would add that to a certain point, it is also a matter of someone’ character. I communicate openly and honestly regardless of the topic. I believe that this is the easiest way for us all to learn and find solutions.

Is it always simple? No, but it is desirable. If you act consistently and responsibly, people perceive you as such a person and mutual trust and respect is gradually built on that in both the private and business sphere.

Have you ever regretted such an attitude in your life?

Bilja: I think that a proper answer would be that there were times when it was difficult for me because of such an approach, because you have first to experience some situations and then process them in your head. I like to say that difficult things take time, it takes time to process them, but I have never regretted that.

It is not unusual for Compliance to be understood, first of all, as a ban on unpermitted behaviour and activities. How do you see it?

Bilja: Possibly, it depends on the way you look at it, whether as a ban or protection. Compliance is simply a matter of integrity, both business and private one. Hemofarm has defined conduct standards.

Are they high? Yes, but they are efficient only to the extent to which we are responsible. Compliance equals accountability. When we follow the rules we keep our reputation, the company’ s reputation. We make our everyday work easier through values and principles of conduct.

You are a member of the internal Compliance Team in charge of B&H. What are you doing to keep business compliance a daily priority of the employees?

Bilja: I believe that to a great extent we managed to achieve the primary goal, being the full understanding of regulations and ethical norms. We had unselfish support of the whole Compliance Team. We sped up the flow of information to managers and all associates in Marketing and Sales Division through regular meetings and interaction. Jelena (Compliance Manager) trains new associates, and we perform periodical re-training for all associates. In this regard, it is important to maintain continuity and therefore it is necessary to constantly update knowledge. Over time, this becomes natural and is easily adopted. I believe that in our company in B&H, the continuity of the focus on compliance has become the default way of working. We are constantly developing risk awareness and almost always detect potential inconsistencies immediately.

What would you do first if one of your associates made a mistake, i.e. some incompliance?

Bilja: It depends on the mistake, because mistakes can be quite basic and made at the beginning. Then such a mistake will not cause potential consequences. Regardless of all, I would talk to the associate and Jelena is always available for consultations. Only with such behaviour do we protect each other and the company.

Super priča broj 2 – Integritet u poslovanju kao zvezda vodilja This year it will be 16 years since you have started working with Hemofarm Banja Luka. You are a witness and participant in the changes in our company and STADA group. How do you see them from today's perspective?

Bilja: There were changes in all segments and each of them is specific. I would not single out any of them, because as I like to say, the way things were done at that time, belonged to that time. Changes happened, they are happening and will be happening. What is the same both in 2005 and 2021 is desire for constant improvement of people, processes and set goals.

Today, we are a part of large and well organized system which recognizes and appreciates our work and efforts here in B&H. However, maybe the greatest difference is that we are now leaders in our market. It is really a special success of each of us. It is our responsibility to maintain such a position and develop it in the interest of users and company.

Apart from being the member of internal Compliance Team, you are also an in-house couch. Where does the interest and energy for additional engagement come from and how do you manage to do everything?

Bilja: In my case, some additional jobs were just implied, some were desired, while some just happened. This additional engagement has often helped me to improve myself and people I lead. At the end of the day, everything boils down to pure will, especially is someone assesses that you can do it. I appreciate that and then I embrace it. I acquired new capabilities through many of these additional activities. Actually, it seems that I have been learning my whole life. I believe in the culture of learning the same as I like my job and medical school which provided me with the foundation to do the job I like. I know that sounds like a phrase, but I would be dishonest with myself if I said anything else.

You started as a representative on the field, then you became key account manager, afterwards business unit manager and now you are regional manager. At first glance, this is a pretty straightforward career path?

Bilja: Only at first glance. When I was a representative I lived in Trebinje, far away from Banja Luka and centre of everything, and in my opinion, without any possibility to be noticed. I have spent a lot of time on the field and that helped me to build good business relations. Contacts with different characters, requests and challenges left me rich with acquaintances and an even richer experience.

I had no expectations in terms of managerial positions. I remember well one day when I was driving from Trebinje to Sarajevo. There is an interesting part of the road, a perfect landscape with meanders. My boss at the time called me and urgently asked for information. I pulled over, opened my laptop and read him what he asked for. Trust me, I still remember what I thought then, but I didn't say it out laud, "It's good that I don't have to do that."

I really did not have such plans, to be a leader. I paid frequent visits to the clients and the only thing I wanted was for my results to reflect what I did. After a couple of years, I received a phone call from the director on that same road, notifying me about my promotion and that was the beginning of my managerial growth and development. In any case, I am satisfied with what I have achieved at work, I am a proud mother of two daughters, I have a beautiful life and work experience.

I have never been drawn forward by any personal selfish motives of any kind. I like to work. I was lucky that someone noticed that and that’s why I’m where I am. I learned a lesson - Watch your team carefully, you will probably recognize the future leader!

Super priča broj 2 – Integritet u poslovanju kao zvezda vodilja
„We are team made of people of different ages, affinities and characters. The best feeling is when you realize that you have managed to somehow fit all that diversities into one good team."


You now lead a team of 17 representatives that can always count on your support, knowledge and experience.

Bilja: Without a good team, there is no success. I strongly believe in them and their potentials. We are each other's strengths and that is, I believe, the essence why we function so good together. I am happy with every progress of my associates, their recognized enlarged engagement and realized initiatives. After all, many Hemofarm's associates have later become very good managers.

Each associate is unique. We are team made of people of different ages, affinities and characters. The best feeling is when you realize that you have managed to somehow fit all that diversities into one good team. You cannot achieve that if you do not respect your people and if there is no appreciation of others. It is not always about sweet talking. After all, it can’t even be. But good intention is always recognized and in the end it is what matters the most. At the same time, it is a two-way process: I try to positively influence them and in return they positively influence me. It is also a process in which it is necessary to invest a lot of energy and all your will.

I consider it my professional and personal task to pass on to my people as much experience and knowledge as I have gained after so many years with Hemofarm. And I believe they would tell you that I do it completely selflessly and that they appreciate it. I always tell them the truth. After all, I personally deal well with the truth, whatever it is, even when it is not the dearest to the ears. I deal badly with untruth or I don't deal with it at all.

How did you function during the first few months of the COVID-19 epidemic?

Bilja: I read the first Super Story. I experienced it exactly as described, as my colleagues from HSE told it. It was definitely not easy for anyone. I was most worried about the people on the field. Also for the organization of work that depends on our contacts in person in the field. I must point out that the motivation that associates have is simply precious. In the period when we were withdrawn from the field and when we switched to online tools, the most common question was: "This isolation is the hardest for us, when are we going back to the field?" The pandemic is the trouble of this time, but it also strengthened connections between us as a team and as a company.

Personally, from the day one, I adhere to all measures because I think that we should act in that way and I resent people who do not do it. I do not refer to colleagues in Hemofarm Banja Luka and Sarajevo, because the company respects the measures and does not prevent us from doing our job. I keep distance and wear a mask, but it bothers me when I’m out of the company in the company of people who don’t. And that’s just part of every day. On the other hand, I had and still have anxiety for my children, family, friends. And perhaps the biggest challenge was to balance those two worlds, private and business and be operational!

Obviously your family is your great support in life?

Bilja: Throughout my life, I have always been guided by the values and life standards that my family and society have instilled in me. The unselfish support of the family made me a potential winner with regard to small and big plans. Some have come true and others have not. It’s a kind of life balance. For me, the private and business spheres are a two-way street. In that street, my family experience, upbringing and relationship with my daughters helped me understand and guide young associates. Maybe that's why we quickly agree on things. I learn from children and co-workers, just as they learn from me. It is a reciprocal process that should be nurtured, in which you learn to listen, notice things and relationships, and make everything better.

While preparing for the interview, your colleague emphasized that it is impossible to be dishonest with you.

Bilja: At one point I allowed myself the luxury of thinking about the dilemmas I had about that, but I quickly withdrew because I want to keep the attitude that it is easy to stay an honest person. I think that family upbringing, my education of a doctor, support of friends and strength of belief keep me on the right path. The decisions I make in my private and business life can be big or small, easy or difficult, good or less good, but I strive to make them as a good person and deal with them as a good person. With life and work experience, some beliefs gain more strength. My life truth and motto is to live and work so that I can make contribution and create value with what I do. Only then do I know I was in the right place at the right time.

What is Hemofarm’s SUPER Story?

These are intimate stories about people and teams from our environment, some of which can eventually become company legends.

These are stories of collegiality, courage, sacrifice, responsibility, thoughtfulness, stories we exchange with each other when we want to praise someone, not because it is expected, but because it is deserved.

These are our super stories and as such they deserve to be heard and shared both inside and outside our organization.

If you missed SUPER story number 1 – read it here.