Aleksandra Dutina, HR Director, Carlsberg Srbija

The Synergy Of Diversity Yields Results

Carlsberg Srbija, as a company that operates at the global level, and as a responsible company, endeavours to develop and foresee its business plans, risks and challenges on time. Although this isn’t always possible, it’s important to follow the company’s strategy, and to familiarise and connect employees with it

If you have a clear objective, if you believe that your people will work to the best of their abilities, if you give them the tools and support, if you take responsibility when that’s required and are capable of making difficult decisions if and when necessary, then the result will not be lacking – says Aleksandra Dutina in this interview for CorD Magazine, revealing the secret of Carlsberg’s success.

Despite the pandemic, the Carlsberg Group achieved stable financial results over the past year, while alongside that you also managed to preserve the lives and health of employees. How did you organise your work? Beer cannot be made from home…

We realised very quickly, following the outbreak of the pandemic, that it was necessary for us to adapt to the new circumstances as soon as possible, because they would last.

Carlsberg logo

We introduced work from home where that was possible, due to the nature of the work, physically dividing our employees into teams, in order for us to ensure people’s safety and the sustainability of the process. We had open communication with all employees from the outset, while managers had the flexibility to organise their team’s work in the way that best suits that team. Security, trust and constant and open communication were our basic principles during the state of emergency and the pandemic generally. We thereby provided our employees with the sense of certainty and trust that was essential to all of us during the difficult period that hit all of us.

The business environment, both locally and globally, was challenging and unpredictable even before the pandemic, not to mention what it’s like now. To what extent does this complicate the work of the HR sector? How did you deal with situations that were impossible to foresee?

Sometimes you find yourself in an unpredictable situation that forces you to think and react quickly, to view things from different perspectives and make an estimate based on the information you have at your disposal, which is also often incomplete. The HR sector strives to follow the company’s strategy in the best way possible, to familiarise and connect employees with it, to provide tools for successful operations, while at the same time taking care of all employees and their needs. Now that those needs are changing at lightning speed, it is necessary to have great flexibility and understanding; to have discussions and action plans that will support the company’s strategy in the best way. Our sector represents the point of contact between business and people, and we endeavour to integrate everything together through conduct that reflects our culture.

How important is the HR sector in large systems like that of Carlsberg? Can strategic goals be set and implemented without you?

The team that deals with human resources is an important link in every major system, starting from the operational part to the strategic. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the opinion of business, for differing justified and unjustified reasons. Nevertheless, HR should provide credible support to management, participating in and initiating many strategic proposals, setting and nurturing culture, dealing with its people and participating in the devising of long-term plans. HR should have integrity and should enjoy the trust of employees, because that’s the only way employees and management can move in the same direction and head towards the same goal.

How much time, effort and knowhow do you invest in the process of selecting and evaluating candidates? How important are a candidate’s skills and competences , and how important is their ability to adapt to a team?

The recruitment and selection process is very important to us and we develop it continuously, in accordance with needs and the market. That’s a two-way relationship, of the candidate towards the company and vice versa.

Competences are important to us, but potential is more important to us, as well as the actual values that new employees will bring us, and whether we correspond mutually in that sense. Carlsberg fosters certain business and human values, and it’s nice when they match the values of the candidate. We aren’t looking for someone who will adapt to us, but rather someone who will fit into our family, because the synergy of diverse people working together is the most valuable resource a company can possess.

The needs of different parts of the organisation are certainly specific and candidates with a certain level of experience are very often sought, but nevertheless, in every selection we conduct, we strive to integrate a new colleague into our culture and thus enrich it.

Apart from formal education, it’s equally important for a job to have healthy ambition, a competitive spirit and way of thinking, personal values, trust and results achieved

Does Carlsberg encourage personal initiative, personal development and healthy ambition? Do you believe that learning on the job – with colleagues and from colleagues – is as important as a formal education?

I firmly believe in the continuous advancement of individuals and teams. Formal education provides the basis for doing a job, but in my opinion it’s also equally important to have healthy ambition, a competitive spirit and way of thinking, personal values, trust and, in the end, results achieved.

When it comes to additional training, like it or not, constant additional training is essential in today’s world. The whole world is changing, from ways of communicating to the business process itself, and there’s no possibility of remaining with the same level of knowledge and advancing at work.

Is it possible to achieve good business results over the long term without a good team spirit? How do you build team spirit?

Everything is very closely connected. Good results are built with good plans, exchanges of ideas, respect for deadlines, taking responsibility and placing trust in your employees. So, if you have a clear aim of where you want to be, and you give your teams autonomy to do their best, you give them the tools and support, take responsibility when required and make difficult decisions sometimes, then you’ll most often also achieve a good result. Sometimes the circumstances under which you operate help a little, but in most cases joint effort and the work of all participants are required for a good result.

Other than monetarily, how do you reward loyalty, dedication, striving for high achievements, agility etc.?

This relates to the overall experience that an employee has while working at the company – with whom they work specifically, where they work, under what kind of conditions, whether they have the freedom to express their own ideas, suggestions, concerns and fears… This is that feeling in the stomach when you arrive at work or start your workday online. Earnings are certainly an important factor, and both tangible and intangible benefits, but so are recognition, praise, sincere feedback, education, the practical implementing of one’s own ideas etc. The best reward is when you feel good that you belong to a team and a company, when you are its ambassador in the best sense.

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