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Jelena Galić, Chairman Of The Executive Board Of AIK Bank

The Team Determines A Leader’s Success

AIK Bank has transitioned from a conventional bank to a bank that today receives important international accolades for innovation and quality of services, and this is the direction it is continuing to develop in following a period that has proven extremely challenging for the entire economy, including the banking sector

We adopted a digital transformation strategy and have so far implemented a significant number of services that are available to all AIK Bank clients via their mobile device, says AIK Bank CEO Jelena Galić.

You’ve already spent seven years as the CEO of AIK Bank. What has changed both locally and globally during that time? And in which ways, and to what extent, has the bank itself changed, but also you personally?

The previous period was fairly challenging for the entire economy, including the banking sector. The digital transformation of services accelerated significantly at both the global and local levels, as a result of the pandemic – which left an indelible mark on both people’s lives and on companies’ operations – but also due to the clear need of clients for services that are easy and available without time restrictions.

Personalisation, or the creating of bespoke services for individuals in accordance with their habits and with the aim of saving both time and money by identifying adequate financial models, is an important trend that’s based on data analytics, machine learning and data science. The implementation of this business model will ease clients’ business with the bank greatly and also optimise costs, as clients will be able to make noticeable savings.

Challenges on the business front are great drivers of change, and I can state with certainty that they’ve also had a great impact on me personally.

Networking and cooperation between businesses has manifold benefits, because it also brings an increase in the volume of the trade exchange and exchanges of experience and knowhow

You are committed to developing and expanding regional cooperation. Can this ensure the accelerated economic growth and development of the entire region?

Networking and cooperation between businesses has manifold benefits, because it also brings an increase in the volume of the trade exchange and exchanges of experience and knowhow, which contribute to the individual development of companies and the quality of services. A stable SME sector is the foundation for healthy economic development, because it was precisely this corporate segment that proved itself to be the most flexible when it came to introducing changes to adapt to the new circumstances. Supporting SMEs – through both financing and connections to and the accessibility of transaction banking – is one of the important tasks of the banking sector aimed at preserving economic stability. In that sense, regional links and cooperation between companies in this segment can be encouraged markedly through the provision of adequate banking services.

What character traits are essential for a good leader?

Leadership primarily means a readiness to handle change. The habits that we’ve acquired in work or life, familiar behavioural patterns, create the kind of comfort and certainty that we all tend towards, because that is human nature. The extent to which you’re prepared to leave your comfort zone and stride towards a goal that you’re striving to achieve will define you as a person, but also the organisation that you head. Knowledge, competence and experience are equally important, because they enable a clearer overview of a given situation, but also the bigger picture that we often lose sight of, especially when confronted by challenges in the workplace. The bigger picture should always be considered, in order to ensure that we take all aspects into consideration when making important decisions. However, all of this is pointless if you lack equally committed colleagues who invest their own time and knowhow to achieve a shared goal. The team, and each individual, is equally responsible for the leader’s success.

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