The challenges and innovation they deal with on a daily basis have made them grow fond of the metal processing industry and discover an attraction for the “black gold” business. During their studies, both got involved in Galeb, a company founded 40 years ago by their father Radoslav Veselinović, at a time when private entrepreneurship did not even exist. Their intention is to advance the company’s operations and prepare their descendants for running the family business one day.
Metal industry and women – seemingly incompatible. Still, it seems that the two of you are doing more than fine. What is it like for you and how do you manage to find your way around?
Nataša: Ever since we were little girls, we were somehow involved with work. We were aware of the benefits that effort and work can bring. First, we started helping our grandparents who were beekeepers and then we progressed to operating a forklift, unlike other girls around us.
In time, we got to know the ins and outs of this business and everything became easier. Our engineers are working on innovations, and it always comes as a surprise to us to see what can be done with a piece of sheet metal and other production elements that our company uses.
Aleksandra also remembers their childhood being very atypical: “We studied in Italy and like everybody living abroad we couldn’t wait to come home to Serbia. But we were not privileged and spent our summer breaks working in production or administration. Once you go through all of that, all other jobs seem much more feminine” – says Aleksandra.
It can be more difficult for women to handle certain situations in business because they have to balance between family and work. What is your experience?
Nataša: When you are involved in a family business, you are in it from a very young age. Aleksandra and I have the support and help of our partners and that means a lot to us. In any case, the fact that we are women doesn’t make any difference whatsoever. We are aware that the livelihoods of many families depend on how well our company does, and we always try to act responsibly. Of course not everything goes according to plan all the time, but with compromise and a little bit of improvisation you find time for everything.
How do you think the state should support the development of entrepreneurship in Serbia, and how do you evaluate NALED’s engagement in this?
Aleksandra: We do hope that the state will give priority to domestic entrepreneurs. I think we are on a good path and that entrepreneurs should be given more incentives. The state should support domestic companies that regularly pay their taxes and fund the government, and help them to overcome market problems. Our company is becoming more and more export-oriented and we are competing with multinationals, so it means a lot to us when the state backs us up. NALED has a good foundation, and we expect to feel the effects of its work in practice too.