Interview with Milica Panic,
Comercial coordinator in Sapphire

„Everyone is equally important, each of us has something unique to offer.“

Milica, tell us something about yourself and your career in cement industry. When did you start working and in which positions did you work?
I am a graduate environmental analyst by profession. I started my career in 2011 as an Analyst in Ecorec laboratory within the cement factory in Popovac.
After six years of work and specialization, I continue to work in the procurement department, in the position of procurement officer. I gained a lot of experience and skills in procurement, which will be very useful for me in the future, so after three years I return to the job I was educated for, as an Environmental Specialist in the subsidiary Sapphire, which deals with alternative fuels and raw materials. Since December last year, I have been promoted to the position of Commercial Coordinator.

The cement industry is considered to be the men’s industry. How did you adapt to that business environment? Was breaking through in the male world difficult for you?
Moravacem company, in which I have been working for 11 years, provides employees with all the conditions for success and there is unreserved support. In my case, things went completely naturally, according to the results achieved. In principle, it may take a little more effort and proving through results and procedures, but it is so likely in any profession, whether you are a woman in the ‘male world’ or vice versa. It is certainly not crucial, you need to be professional, focused on goals and results, set and direct the business, know the market and trends, but above all your team.

During your career in cement plant, you changed several positions and departments. Can you compare working with women and working with men? Who do you personally work with better and does successful cooperation depend on gender at all?
I work well with all my colleagues. I really don’t make a division into men’s and women’s jobs. Although I think that my colleagues are more diligent, more self-sacrificing, more concrete and a bit more dedicated. But men also have their advantages.
When I draw the line, the final conclusion is that there is no distinction between male and female work. Today, women have the opportunity to express themselves in areas that have always been reserved for men while they excel in women’s affairs.

The terms diversity and inclusion have often been heard in multinational companies lately. What do these terms mean to you? How do you define them?
Diversity applies to the individual. It is about the diversity of unique dimensions, qualities and characteristics that we all possess. Inclusion refers to the collective. It is about creating a culture that values and respects individuals because of their talents, skills and abilities for the benefit of the collective.
The collective sum of individual differences, life experiences, knowledge, innovation, self-expression, unique abilities and talents that my colleagues and I invest in our work represents a significant part not only of our corporate culture, but also our reputation and company achievements. A lot of different flowers make a bouquet.

In general, do you think that women’s opinions are heard as much as men’s?
My answer is one big YES!
Everyone is equally important, each of us has something unique to offer. Roles attributed to gender are a thing of the past in our company. Diversity and inclusion is a business imperative embedded in our corporate values.

How can women encourage each other in the fight for equal rights and opportunities at work?
There is great power in cooperation! Women who support each other not only make us feel great, but also increase our chances of success.

What would you say to young girls who have yet to enroll in college and start building their careers?
I would like to tell young girls to follow their heart and dreams, bravely step towards opportunities, be proactive and unique.
Get out of your comfort zone, without any prejudices and divisions into men’s and women’s affairs.
It is important that you constantly invest in your knowledge in your career and be the best version of yourself. It is necessary to find your motivation and inspiration and to firmly believe in yourself – and then success will certainly not bypass you. Don’t be afraid of mistakes! Mistakes are good – because they mean you try. Be good person, good colleagues, listen, ask, try, write down.