I am very proud of the response my company has had. We reached out stakeholders in government and in private sector to try to see exactly what kind of response is needed
We have interviewed Ivan Miletić, Director of External Affairs of Philip Morris International SEE about how PMI has organised business activites during the state of emergency, how they contribute to the fight against the COVID-19 virus, as well as how he is spending his free time and what he will do first when the state of emergency is abolished. ”We are very thankful to our colleagues who continued to come to work every day and to do their best, and continued to show very strong results. Again, this is a very tiring time, so we have to arm ourselves with lots of patience. For me personally, my job is engaging with people, speaking and meeting with people in person every day. That has been very difficult in these times“ said Ivan Miletić.
How did you organize your business activities?
This a very challenging time for all of us, and I am afraid it is a very fluid category, and it is coing to continue to be like that for a while. For us, in SEE, we have 6 markets, we have about 1000 employees, different geographies, different governments have been implementing different measures, and they are really treating pandemic differently in different times, so, for us, the main obligation is to keep all of our employees and their families safe, to make sure that they continue to do their job, and also to continue to provide our consumers, the users of our products with best possible experience.
So, we immediately looked at if some people can work remotely, and for those who can work remotely, they have been doing that. Unfortunately all of us cannot work remotely since we have a factory in Niš, we have many colleagues who are frontliners, who work in sales, and work directly with our consumers. Som for them we made sure that we have enough protective equipment, masks, gloves, enough disinfectants. So, we made sure tht we implement certain policies and measures designed in this times to keep them safe from harm as much as possible.
We are very thankful to our colleagues who continued to come to work every day and to do their best, and continued to show very strong results. Again, this is a very tiring time, so we have to arm ourselves with lots of patience. For me personally, my job is engaging with people, speaking and meeting with people in person every day. That has been very difficult in these times. I find that you can replace some of the human contact with apps and technologies avalilable, but for me personally it is not enough. I like meeting with people, I like having conversation with people in person, so I am looking forward to this situation to be over so we could go meeting each other in person and spending time together.
The Government of Serbia has announced its package of economic measures to overcome the consequences of the current situation and other measures. What do you think about them?
As I said, in SEE, different governments have been implementing different measures, and they are really treating pandemic differently in different times, and we as a business support all these measures that are reasonable, aiming to keep people safe, science-based, fact-based and reasonable designed to keep people safe in these crazy times, we support them and applaud the Government for them. As of economic measures, we have to be careful not to address only immediate issues but to look at long term business sustainability. I’ve seen that the measures in our region have done exactly that. This is challenging since there is no blueprint how to manage a pandemic of such proportions. The governments for their part are doing their best and I think that they are all fact-based and reasonable. I think that Chambers of Commerce are doing a great job so the voice of the business can be heard. I am very encouraged and I think we are on the right path, and hopefully we won’t need them for too long. It, however, remains to be seen. You also asked me how important is solidarity. These are awful times and hopefully it’ll bring the best in us, make us all work together. I am very proud of the response my company has had. We reached out stakeholders in government and in private sector to try to see exactly what kind of response is needed. Because we’ve seen the leadership of the countries in the region has been very active in finding medical equipment and medicals, ensuring there is enough ventilators so what we’ve done is reaching out our stakeholders to see what supplementary things are needed now, so we don’t overlap in certain things and leaving some other things to fall through the cracks. In some markets the aid has been delivered, in some markets it is on its way. But I am sure it will show what we are made of, and I am sure that we show the human side of the business now.
How are you spending your private time during the pandemic?
Look, I think we are all adjusting, we are all finding that spending curfew and time working from home represents certain challenge, but also it is an opportunity we didn’t have before. For me, the opportunity is working from my kitchen counter or making confrence calls in the company of my nine years olds, but one of the nice things i hearing their voices from the other room even if we are not together all day long: arguing with ther mum and asking what is the right answer and what they have to do next. The opportunity you should cherish is the time spent with your family and the ones you love.
What will you do first after the state of emergency is cancelled?
Just going out with no gloves and no surgical mask and taking a long drive with my family and exploring some of the local things here in Serbia, or other Balkan countries. It sounds better than Bahamas at this point. There is a post on social networks which says: After this is all over, I will stay home for couple of days and really clear my head. This is definitely what I am not going to do. I am going out and staying out as long as possible.