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Zorica Popović, Elixir Group General Manager

No Secrets To Success

Elixir is a leader in Southeast Europe’s chemical industry, which has two complexes – in Šabac and Prahovo – and is one of only six European producers of phosphoric acid. Approximately 70% of its total production is sold in more than 70 countries

The circular economy is our future and represents a key segment of sustainable development. We don’t only develop our core business in this way, but also contribute to the shared further progress of the communities in which we operate, as well as the economies of our country and the region, notes Elixir Group General Manager Zorica Popović.

You are one of the few women to head a large domestic company, and a special curiosity is represented by the fact that the company in question is engaged in the chemical industry and agribusiness. How difficult is it to lead such a large and complex system?

The business vision is the foundation, and it is in accordance with that vision that we set goals and create and build a team of people who share the same values. When that is the case, no question is raised over whether something is difficult, rather challenges are overcome through serious and dedicated work, synergy among employees and cooperation with the community in which we create. It is on the basis of the conviction that people are our greatest strength that we realise our vision to “create a heritage through sustainable development, to the benefit of the community.”

Our strategic priorities are innovation, development and operational excellence. This means planning responsibly and developing continuously, with the implementation of the best available technologies and business models that contribute to sustainable development, such as the circular economy, green and/or CO2 neutral products, which are very relevant strategic topics in the scope of the EU Green Deal and the Green Agenda for the Western Balkans.

We are developing the strategically important Prahovo Industrial and Chemical Park project with a view to the examples of similar parks around the world, thereby contributing to economic growth and the rational use of resources.

Elixir has more than 1,600 employees today, with production levels exceeding a million tons at two locations and products sold on all continents

You export mineral fertilisers to more than 70 countries around the world. Are you satisfied?

Having a presence on the global market requires responsibility, the applying of cutting-edge technologies and the continuous improving of knowhow. Since the 2012 privatisations of the chemical complexes in Prahovo and Šabac, Elixir has invested more than 180 million euros in capacity building, technology and environmental protection, while we plan to invest more than 250 million euros in further development over the coming years.

We are satisfied with the successes achieved, which have created new development potentials. Our engineering teams work continuously on new projects and developing the product portfolio. A priority is projects for increasing the capacity to produce phosphoric acid, with more phosphoric acid purification phases to achieve a quality that has applications in various industries. In parallel and in synergy with production processes, we are developing multiple circular economy projects (waste to chemicals, waste to energy) and planning very significant investments in that area.

The company was founded by your brother, Stanko Popović, while your sister, Slavica Brkić, works as sales director and there are other family members in the company. Is that one of the secrets of your success?

I believe that there are no secrets to success, except knowhow and responsible, dedicated work. Elixir has more than 1,600 employees today, with production levels exceeding a million tons at two locations and products sold on all continents. This is only possible thanks to the exceptional team of experts and dedicated people, professionals who overcome numerous and varying challenges. Family members are part of this team, but the whole of Elixir is actually one broad family, because we share concerns, hold the same values, build trust and together follow the same vision. We are in tune with one another, have worked together for a long time and mutually respect and support one another.

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