Marina Mitić Jekić, HR Director, STADA CEE Region and Hemofarm a.d.

Dedication is Always Rewarded With Trust

As of this May, the Faculty of Technology Novi Sad has launched an event that it will organise annually entitled “Hemofarm Day”, which emerged as a result of cooperation between this faculty and company aimed at ensuring the better adapting educational profiles to meet the needs of the market

One of the activities within the scope of this year’s event was the competition “Pharmaceutical INNcububator”, which brought together undergraduate and masters’ students and tasked them with proposing ideas and creating products in the field of the pharmaceutical industry. The best of them will be rewarded with the intership program at this company.

Cooperation with this college was actually established at the initiative of Hemofarm’s Human Resources Department. And here Marina Mitić Jekić, Stada CEE Region and Hemofarm HR Director, speaks about the everyday life of employees, the company’s relationship towards employees, and investments in both current and future employees.

Hemofarm has 2,700 employees in Serbia, and almost 70% of them work in Vršac, where the company’s production complex and headquarters are located. As many as 34 percents of your employees are highly educated. Is it difficult to access high-quality personnel in smaller communities? 

– A trend that we notice in the world and in this region is that companies are launching their greenfield investment projects in smaller communities. During its infancy, nearly 60 years ago, Hemofarm set off from the small city of Vršac, but in the meantime, it has grown to become a regional pharmaceutical giant operating on three continents.

When it comes to employment, there are high-quality workers in small communities, and the problem arises when it comes to the engagement of highly educated experts with very specific profiles, such as, for example, graduate pharmacists or technologists in our case. A significant number of employees travel on a daily basis from Belgrade to Vršac, and that’s a topic that has a constant presence around our table. The human resources sector and leaders of business have a common task in this area – to maintain the motivation of existing workers and attract new colleagues who are willing to work away from the place where they reside. At the end of the day, employees will always recognise the dedication and reward it with trust, and vice versa.

It seems that your approach to people extends beyond the legal obligation to care for employees. Do you believe that a satisfied worker is the best worker? Is it necessary to identify with the company?

– I think that’s a general trend and that every serious employer strives to offer more than that which is required by law. Hemofarm has various benefits available to employees and we work every day to adapt them to the real needs of our employees as much as possible. Consider that we are a company founded in 1960 and that we have employees among us who have been with us for decades, as well as those that joined us relatively recently. Here we approach our job with the task of making Hemofarm a comfortable place for all of these different groups.

Furthermore, the satisfaction of employees is a relative thing; in some stages of a career and life, it is more important for someone to be able to regularly attend training and improve themselves professionally; in other stages it may be more important for them to have supplementary health insurance for themselves and their family, while in some stages striking a good balance between work and private life can be more important. As someone who’s been doing this job for years, I think it is more satisfying when you know why you are coming to work, in an environment in which people collaborate well, and where your work is recognised and appreciated.

With the introduction of a modern system through the Success Factors project, it is planned for Serbia – together with Germany – to be the first country in which the Stada Group will implement this modern HR software

Companies today pay great attention to the professional and personal development of employees through continuous education. Is that an imperative of the times in which we live?

– Of course! Like other major companies, we deal with this topic on a daily basis and our goal is to have the best possible overview of the needs of the organisation, which forms the basis for all other activities. 

In practice, that means that all training courses are planned in cooperation with the Human Resources Department and line managers, while additional training is also organised by the HR department in accordance with the general needs of the company. An example of this second type of training is the “Leadership Campaign”, within the framework of which around 250 employees will undergo five-day training on techniques for managing teams within the company. We also pay great attention to so-called specialised expert training, because a pharmaceutical company must have something like that in its training plan. The Stada Group this year launched a talent management process that will focus additionally on personnel who have been identified as having the potential to take on future leadership roles within the company.

And while we’re on the topic of the new age and its achievements, tell us more about e-recruitment. Can candidates use digital channels to more easily find a job and establish communicate with potential employers?

– Keeping pace with trends is one of the things that you mustn’t fail to do, otherwise, you’ll certainly lose the market battle regardless of the area of business, including human resources. There is an increasing number of digital solutions around us for various aspects of life and, when it comes to HR, these solutions are most prominent in the field of candidate selection. Young people today are much more focused on social networks than, for example, my generation was at the time that we graduated from college. Companies also adapt to this, so submitting a CV at an employment fair is something that will gradually be replaced entirely by online applications.

We are very active on social networks and are leading the way with LinkedIn, via which we directly filled a large number of challenging job positions last year. We are also working on the introduction of a modern selection system that is part of the global Success Factors project, and it is planned for Serbia – together with Germany – to be the first country in which the Stada Group will implement this modern HR software.

Many young and highly-educated people abandon Serbia in search of employment, a good income and a better life. Can companies like Hemofarm bring a halt to that trend?

– In the time of globalisation, I think it is questionable whether anyone could halt this process and whether they should even try to do that. I represent the approach that societies and companies should devise a strategy for retaining quality high-quality personnel despite outflows, which are not specific to Serbia and thereby achieve a healthy balance. Hemofarm, as part of the Stada Group and as a large multinational company, certainly offers the possibility to work in a large system, and that’s what candidates recognise with us.

For example, we launched a programme in which we were joined by 11 young people from the faculty for a six-month period, and all of them were employed at Hemofarm upon completion of this professional internship program. However, in this area, we’re not only working as a company. The Hemofarm Foundation is also very active through programmes for scholarships, mentorship programmes and summer internship, which additionally motivates the best students of medicine, pharmacy and other faculties of science to learn from the best through direct cooperation with colleagues from Hemofarm. In this way, we’re not only impacting on the personal and professional development of young people but also motivating them to stay in our country and acquire know-how. The best proof of this is the fact that some former Foundation scholarship recipients are today managers and directors at Hemofarm.