Violeta Belanović began her career as an auditor at the two largest auditing firms, before continuing as a director of finance for multinational companies. She developed an interest in finances from an early age, and she finds it soothing to observe work through numbers. With her work and vision, she has raised the visibility of Sekopak, and the management of packaging waste, to an enviable level
With Sekopak’s help, as much as 830,000 tons of packaging waste has been recycled to date, while in the last year alone this company contributed to savings on CO2 of more than 93,000 tons. Sekopak has held the market leadership position for seven years already, which is why we discussed the development of the company and its continued growth in its leadership role with Sekopak General Manager Violeta Belanović, who is this August commemorating 10 years in the position of GM.
It was immediately after graduating from university that you launched your career at Ernst & Young, before moving on to Deloitte. As an expert in the auditing field and a finance director, you gained a wealth of experience at some of the largest domestic and multinational companies. How significant did that prove to be as your career progressed?
My love of finances already emerged at the end of primary school. It was then that I realised that it is easiest for me to express myself with the help of numbers, to understand them, which is very specific for that age. That is still the case today. I enjoy studying and overviewing the balance sheet; that unburdens me.
As an auditor and director of finance, I was more dedicated to numbers, to internal procedures, to the functioning of the company from within, while the position of general manager implied greater communication with clients, collectors, the media and the state. That was new for me and a great challenge, but I had a clear vision of where Sekopak could be, which has been an important driver of my advancement as a director, but also for the advancement of Sekopak.
I see Sekopak as a leader of positive change in the packaging waste management industry. I consider that we’ve proven that through our work to date, but I still see room to improve. This motivates me to continue working at Sekopak and to put into effect that which I believe in
I still feel positive nervousness when it comes to my responsibility at the company.
This is an indication that, even after 10 years in the job, I care not only about Sekopak, but also about advancing the system of packaging waste management in Serbia.
Prior to taking on the position of general manager at Sekopak, you served as the company’s director of finances for two and a half years. What were your biggest lessons when switching to the new position?
When I received the opportunity to lead the company, I knew how to improve Sekopak’s operations and where the company needed to be; what we should do when it comes to customers, suppliers and relations with the state. I was familiar with the company from the inside and decided to make cuts and turn around the business in order to elevate Sekopak to the leadership position it now occupies. We’ve been the number one operator in Serbia for seven years already, which makes me very proud. We are recognisable, visible, and have the trust of our associates, but also of citizens.
Encouraged by the good results achieved to date, could you tell us about your plans for the upcoming period; how you envisage the recycling market in Serbia and Sekopak’s role?
Sekopak, as a packaging waste operator, justifies the targets for recycling set on behalf of companies by the state. Our goal over the next five years is to collect 50% of packaging waste from primary selection – first and foremost from citizens, but also from the Ho- ReCa and retail sectors.
I would like Serbian citizens to develop awareness regarding recycling and for primary selection to become routine. We are working on this persistently, implementing projects and education in cities nationwide across Serbia, installing infrastructure to separate packaging waste and bringing innovations to the industry.
We are continuously looking for ways that we can raise the existing infrastructure to a higher level and turn to smart recycling, but also how we can maximally facilitate the primary selection process for citizens. It was with this goal in mind that we installed the first recycling machine in Serbia, and we have them today in Kragujevac, Belgrade, Novi Sad, Aranđelovac, Niš and Zrenjanin.
Sekopak also installed the first partition dam to protect against packaging waste back in 2017, when no one was even mentioning dams on rivers. You can now see similar dams being installed everywhere in Europe.
I see Sekopak as a leader of positive change in the packaging waste management industry. I consider that we’ve proven that through our work to date, but I still see room to improve. This motivates me to continue working at Sekopak and to put into effect that which I believe in.
Sekopak was founded by the industry, while most major corporations opted for Sekopak to be their packaging waste management operator. How have you developed and grown alongside your associates?
Sekopak’s founders are serious multinational companies (A&P, Apatin Brewery, Ball Packaging Europe, confectionery company Bambi, Carlsberg Srbija, Coca-Cola HBC, Fresh&- Co, Knjaz Miloš and Tetra Pak), that came here to stay and to set up a functional system. The goal for them isn’t merely to collect their packaging and submit it for recycling, rather they want to contribute to the community. I’m happy that our clients and founders are aware of their social and environmental responsibility and that they have been influencing positive change in society over the last 10 years, together with Sekopak. These companies have, through their demands, contributed to Sekopak being where it is today. We have grown together, complemented each other, learned from one another.
After 10 years in the job, I care not only about Sekopak, but also about advancing the system of packaging waste management in Serbia
We outdid ourselves this year in the context of the projects and events that we work on. The small school of recycling, Vlasina’s even purer love, Recycling for a cleaner Aranđelovac, Plus for the planet, Recycle Smartly, Education is important – recycle! These are just a few of the projects that we’ve worked on this year.
The entire Sekopak team is developing through this dynamic industry and the demands of our clients. We presented our entire network of associates in Serbia and everything we’ve done over the last 10 years at the CO2 conference that we organised in April. I’m extremely proud of who supports us, who stands behind us, the trust that the state places in us as a company with huge experience and knowhow in the field of packaging waste management.