Aco Gjorgievski is a business professional with more than 23 years of experience, 15 years of which were spent internationally in Nestle – the world`s biggest FMCG company – within various senior leadership position. In 2012 Aco took up the role of Nestle Professional Country Manager for the Adriatic Region, being later promoted to Nestle Professional Business Executive Officer (BEO). He was also a member of the Board of Directors of Nestle Adriatic for a period of 8+ years.
Throughout his career, Aco has had the opportunity to establish and lead sustainable and efficient businesses, whilst accomplishing many complex projects together with his team, leading them to remarkable results and achievements. Over the years, he has gained valuable international experience, knowledge and competencies, influencing his expertise in consulting in the areas of leadership, teams and people development, business and corporate strategy, management, project implementation, sales and marketing.
Aco states that there are many things that motivate him: “My motivation is the desire for continuous growth and progress. What also motivates me is the possibility to share my knowledge, experience and expertise with other people and teams in order to support them to grow, expand their horizons and achieve their goals. I have to mention, that I also draw motivation from cooperation with good, positive and wise people… Regarding inspiration, my eternal inspiration is my family. They are the essential component in numerous successes I have achieved in my career until now. My family is one of the key drivers which inspires me to strive for continuous personal growth, and to contribute to the further progress of our society.”
How can professionals improve their leadership skills and what are the most important skills for team success?
Continuous learning, an open mind, and curiosity are some important fundamentals every leader should have and maintain in order to be competitive and consistent in their leadership performance. Successful leadership highly depends on the capacity and capability of a leader to build trust, a positive atmosphere, and respect among team members. For sure, transparent, honest and two-way communication is always a solid recipe to achieve team harmony and big success. Lacking some of the above-mentioned elements could contribute to potential turbulences within a team, combined with a lack of focus, waster of energy, lower efficiency and poor execution. Every successful leader has to initiate, promote and be supportive towards building a culture of sharing best practices, know-how and best experiences among teams. Especially when teams are diversified and spread across different geographies (markets).
What does it mean to be an effective leader and how can leaders adapt to challenging environments?
The effectiveness of leaders is closely linked with the way they communicate – it has to be effective and mature. I think that effectiveness also depends on how the leader manages their own time, capacity, potential and efficiency. If the leader is effective internally in these mentioned segments, they will without a doubt be effective externally as well.
I believe an effective leader should also promote the culture of positive challenge as a way for promoting continuous progress and growth of the whole team, while achieving excellent sustainable results of the company.
In order to adapt to challenging environments the leader has to have the capacity to anticipate changes, and be proactive, positive, open and ready to embrace the new reality. Leaders must recognise all new potential opportunities and risks, and demonstrate a high ability to drive and lead various changes. Leaders should also be aware and prepared to tackle any resistance to change and instead role model the need to embrace change in order to gain competitive advantage.
How does team building contribute to the overall success of a business and how can businesses improve their team building skills to adapt to different challenges?
Team success is always the success for a company as well. The people and the team can make the crucial difference to win on the market. This becomes more visible within fragmented markets and markets where strong brands and competitors are competing to win with customers and consumers.
In conditions where the business is growing and is successful, the team and people are also growing in parallel. They enhance their confidence, build new competencies and become more mature.
Can you tell us about the importance of business and corporate strategy and how they interplay with one another?
Corporate and business strategy should complement and be well aligned with one another. The companies that meet these prerequisites are on the right path to “climb every mountain.” In all other cases, when some gaps are existing between corporate and business strategy there are unnecessary frictions which can lead to potential issues, lack of efficiency or even more difficult scenarios.
What are the most effective marketing techniques entrepreneurs and start-ups can use instantly to increase sales? And what distribution channels would you recommend to those just kicking-off their business?
There are many techniques on disposal. My recommendation in general is to adopt the techniques which will provide simple, straightforward and an efficient approach. I am always preferring to strive for more simplicity in order to avoid complexity. Simplicity is usually always part of excellence.
Regarding the choice of distribution channels, I would advise entrepreneurs and start-ups to correlate with their type of the business, target customers, characteristics, market configuration and own capabilities. A combination of distribution channels can provide a good model at the start in order to provide better efficiency, wider coverage, and the possibility to gain critical mass faster. In parallel, this can initiate learning and growth faster, for example indirect distribution combined with e-commerce. And last but not least, I would highly recommend to pay close attention to the quality of the resources (people) more than just quantity.
In regards to fast moving consumer goods (FMCG), what are the main challenges facing companies today, especially in Macedonia and the Western Balkans?
The new reality brings completely new challenges and perspectives. COVID-19 has indeed dramatically changed customers and consumers habits, their needs and expectations. They have become significantly more demanding and cautious about their choices, like never before, and digitalisation has helped this process and made it possible. For example, despite the quality and value of money, customers and consumers now pay much more attention to convenience and safety as well.
All of the above mentioned has impacted the FMCG industry, including Macedonia and the Western Balkans. Driven from massive restrictions and lock-downs, demand and consumption significantly increased in the In-home channel whilst the Out-of-home channel is heavily eroded and struggling to survive. In these difficult times and high challenging environment, FMGC companies which are playing in both channels (In-home & Out-of-home) are in a much better position. This is considering that they are more capable, flexible and agile to capture and materialise the shifting of and between channels. In comparison, FMCG companies which are much more dependent on the Out-of-home channel, are facing serious problems.
Do you think there is potential to see a Macedonian product became a FMCG within the international market? How can the diaspora help promote Macedonian products in their communities?
The international FMCG market is huge with a fascinating scale and potential.At the same time, however, it is very fragmented, demanding and competitive. Every progress made by Macedonian FMCG companies in the direction to extend their portfolios on some international markets can be extremely valuable not only for them, but also for our national economy.
I have no doubt that there are Macedonian FMCG products and brands with great international potential. Indeed, this is provided by the products, which are already playing a significant role on some international markets within the region and wider.
From one perspective, it is very important to continue investing in Macedonian FMCG products which already have an international reputation, to build their sustainability, continuous improvement and higher competitiveness. From another perspective, it is also equally important to increase the number and portfolios of Macedonian FMCG domestic products which have the potential to became new stars on the international market, but are currently not present. This is all possible with wise investments, strong competence, sustainable approaches, accompanies by a clear long-term strategy.
The Macedonian diaspora can therefore play a significant role in this international journey, especially within their communities abroad. Their support is crucial in many ways. The diaspora’s credibility can be used to attract and engage relevant potential partners with Macedonian companies. They can provide and share relevant market insights from abroad which can be valuable in creating international export and an internationalisation of strategies for Macedonian companies. I believe they can be the best ambassadors and promotors of Macedonian products within foreign markets. The support and help of the diaspora can hence play a crucial role at the very begging and launch of a Macedonian FMCG’s product on the international market, considering that this is a fragile and sensitive phase when products are introduced globally, as they are initially not well known of among customers, and the critical mass and initial stabile traction is usually lacking.
Stefani Taskova Miteva