Answers provided by Aleksandra Stojanović, MK Group’s Corporate Director
Bazar: This is the year in which MK Group celebrates 35 years of successful business. What is the key feature that enabled this company to last so long?
People – perseverance, determination and commitment of more than seven thousand employees of MK Group who share a common vision. Thanks to the strength of the entire team, this company has grown into a stable and sustainable system which today has know-how in three key business segments – agriculture, tourism and banking. Apart from Serbia, we successfully operate in Slovenia, Montenegro and Croatia. We’ve become the system others learn from, the trusted partner, and the support to be counted on.
Bazar: MK Group has celebrated this important anniversary with a new visual identity in whose creation you have been directly involved. What was a leading idea that brought you to defining the logo and slogans that should reflect the whole philosophy and purpose of your business operations?
When it comes to rebranding of any company, most people are thinking only of what is seen by the bare eye – the change of the logo and corporate colors. The truth is that this process implies much more than that form. Our goal was to display the value and purpose of MK Group’s business through the visual identity of the company, and for us these elements were the starting point. With the new visual identity, we managed to show the diversity, strength and direction in which the company moves. Therefore, the new logo, in addition to the founders’ initials (M and K), contains an infinite (∞) set of possibilities for the development of business, people and society as a whole.
Along with the logo, we created a new slogan – One vision. Smart decisions. We did not have any doubts here. The slogan is almost organic, growing from the company’s thirty-five-year existence. Everything started with the founder’s vision, and growth and success came along thanks to employees and mutual smart business decisions.
Bazaar: You are at the forefront of the corporate affairs sector which is one of the most important positions in every business system. What does that role imply?
This role implies first and foremost a good knowledge of the system in which you operate. Under the knowledge of the system, I do not mean only the knowledge of the entire company – “360 degrees”, but the whole environment in which the company operates. Consequently, the Corporate Affairs Director is responsible for a high level of integration within the system, the initiation of certain organizational or cultural changes, as well as the articulated external communication of all these processes. It is very important how each acquisition, integration or transformation will be communicated to associates. In this regard, this person must know market trends, strategic planning, and forecasting of potential risks in order to communicate all important messages accurately and in accordance with internal goals. Person holding this position is responsible for the company’s “identity card” and the way all its stakeholders see it.
Bazar: You are part of MK Group for almost 9 years. Is this an example of good practice by which employers in Serbia really appreciate and protect their employees who work well?
Absolutely. When you have a system of 7,000 employees in 3 different areas, you have to admit that the real “art” is to maintain a high level of employee satisfaction. Nevertheless, our Human Resources Department succeeds in matching the demands of different business profiles of my colleagues and pays enough attention to their professional development. Judging by the previous practice in our company, this is the right formula for a satisfied employee and a satisfied employer. What we have been focusing on in recent years is monitoring new trends in the employment of young generations that are yet to come. As a result, MK Group is recognized as a desirable employer and a company that understands them.
Bazar: What do you mean by making smart decisions?
Thorough preparation is lying behind every smart decision we make. A smart decision is not a matter of inspiration, but a good knowledge of every detail in relation to the factors that influence its creation. You must be a couple of steps ahead and anticipate the consequences these decisions will bring. Sometimes it is a smart decision to “go safe” and sometimes it is smart to be brave and take a certain risk in order to achieve a higher goal. Experience and knowledge are encouraging us to make decisions that make us the best in a particular situation, and the time will tell whether this decision was smart or not.
Bazar: Does a successful career necessarily imply sacrifice in terms of private life for a woman and how to deal with this challenge in the 21st century? How much time do you have for some typical female rituals, traveling, family, and friends?
To be successful means to be well organized, regardless of whether it is a woman or a man. I use my organizational skills not only in business but also in private life, so I do not have this kind of “modern” problem.
Bazar: Do you follow fashion trends and which style do you prefer?
I try to follow fashion trends especially when it comes to business dress code style. I prefer more casual business suits than those that are strictly business. At meetings, I rarely wear dresses, and on private occasions, I think a good denim jeans is unsurpassed.
Bazar: MK Group is a socially responsible company and, according to this definition, it is the creator of many humanitarian and stimulating actions in 74 municipalities in which it operates. Which of these activities are you particularly proud of?
Responsibility is one of the four core values of our company precisely because the purpose of the existence of MK Group is not only development of its own business, but also the development of people and communities in which it operates. I would like to remind you that in the last five years we have implemented 500 socially responsible projects through which we’ve donated four million eur.
If I now have to extract a couple of activities that are particularly important to us, then this would be, among other things, the project “Magnet for Love”, which in partnership with the Provincial Government collected funds for magnetic resonance and accompanying equipment for the needs of the Institute for Health Protection of Children and Youth of Vojvodina.
Furthermore, MK Group has donated funds for the construction of a Youth House at SOS Children’s Village in Kraljevo. A year later, the President of MK Group, Miodrag Kostić, has put his family home in Novi Sad at the disposal of the National Association of Parents of Children with Cancer (NURDOR) for accommodation of children with cancer. We take special care of the best students from Kosovo and Metohija, who for the tenth year in a row, have provided winter holidays in our Grand Hotel in Kopaonik. These are just some of the fine examples of MK Group’s humanity.
Bazar: MK Group is a regional leader in the fields of agriculture, finance and tourism and as such is a kind of Serbian ambassador. Are you satisfied with the image you enjoy as a holding company in the region or would you improve anything about it?
Our motto is: “It can always be better”. However, the public recognizes the success this company has made in 35 years. From one man, we have developed into a corporation with a serious model of corporate governance. We get a good image recognition when others talk about us as a good example of a regional economic leader, a domestic company that has evolved into Europe and a business system that sets new standards in business. Then we know that we are on the right track and that the Corporate Sector has done the right thing.