Pia Barborič Jurjaševič, General Manager of Imperial Tobacco, Adriatic:

Celebrating Diversity And Teamwork

For over twenty years, my business and personal roads have led across the Adriatic region, which provides many challenges, but also offers many rewards, particularly when it comes to diversity of cultures, opportunities in each specific market and the extraordinary people I’ve had a chance to meet over the last two decades

Pia Barboric Jurjasevic

I’m very proud that I’ve had a chance in the last three years to lead the team of professionals at Imperial Tobacco for the Adriatic region. This team achieves fantastic results and members always strive to do their job with a high level of dedication and, most importantly, with personal integrity and by respecting the integrity of the company and the markets where we operate.What is probably quite specific for my career is the fact that I’ve actually been working for the same company for over 20 years. After I graduated from the Faculty of Economics in Ljubljana, I started my career in the fashion accessories business, which at the time was under the Tobacna Ljubljana Group. And that’s the company that I work for even today, of course, nowadays under the name of Imperial Brands Group. We have changed names and ownership structures, but the most important factor is that many people with whom I started my career, after all the turbulent changes and transformations, still come to our offices today with a smile. That’s the main reason why I’m also smiling and satisfied.

My career progressed through various marketing roles: building big regional brands like Boss and leading the marketing team for the region, followed by taking over responsibility for our tobacco business and then all other business segments in Slovenia. This includes wholesale and retail businesses, which are of course connected to our core, but also represent a world of their own. This was also a great learning opportunity for me.

Creating the atmosphere where learning from mistakes is part of the normal, everyday process is one of my leadership priorities. And we already see many good results from this approach!

Marketing and brands are still a very important part of my job, because we work with amazing international brands like West, Rizla, Drum, Gauloises and – I will take the right to say one of the most remarkable premium brands in the category in the region – Davidoff.

Although I had many interesting and sometimes difficult situations during my career, the most challenging part of the business is to create an energised team environment by resolving issues or any form of conflict and generating extra effort, enthusiasm and commitment within the team. If you succeed with this, you are a winner.

I’m often asked how one team can work from many different locations. In our case, we are managing the Adriatic region from three different locations: Ljubljana, Belgrade and Skopje. But my answer is always very simple: creating a pleasant working atmosphere nowadays is not connected to office space – it’s about mindset. Also, supporting your team and having fruitful collaboration is not prevented by geography. Barriers only exist in people’s minds. So, my persistent push to review not only what we have done, but also how we have done it, contributes to team members’ feeling like their efforts are valued, and restores energy to grow even further – both as professionals and as a business.

Personally, I strongly value learning from mistakes and giving a chance to people to try, make a mistake and learn from that. Creating the atmosphere where learning from mistakes is part of the normal, everyday process is one of my leadership priorities. And we already see many good results from this approach!