Online event of the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria “Business in 2021”:
Companies reacted flexibly, the next step is to build a community of knowledge and solidarity
The situation caused by CoVid-19 was a test for the business, but most of the companies managed to react flexibly and provide their employees with the opportunity for remote work and redirected them to new and different projects in order to save their jobs. This was shared by leading managers of some of the largest companies in the country, who discussed their expectations for the business environment this year at a fully digital event organized by the Council of Women in Business in Bulgaria (CWBB).
“I believe that today’s conference is the next step in building a community of knowledge and solidarity that will allow us to be even more sustainable and successful today and in the future,” said opening the event Dr. Ing. Boryana Manolova, Chairperson of the Management Board of CWBB and CEO of Siemens Bulgaria and Northern Macedonia, because “in turbulent times like today, knowledge sharing and well-intentioned support become even more valuable for all of us, CWBB members.”
Participants in the discussion were Milena Dragiyska, CEO of Lidl Bulgaria and Manager of the Year 2020, Kristina Ivanova, Director for Bulgaria and Vice President of Operations at TELUS International Europe and Kalina Trifonova, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Directors of EVN Bulgaria.
“In 2020, the Lidl Bulgaria team continued to grow, reaching 3,200 people. We are constantly investing in employee training and giving opportunities for a successful career start to a number of young people through internship programs and dual training,” said Milena Dragiyska. She added that Lidl Bulgaria has added over 90 new products to its portfolio, 90% of which are from Bulgarian manufacturers, and provides them with the opportunity to export to Lidl’s European network, thus supporting Bulgarian small and medium-sized businesses.
Kristina Ivanova recalled the efforts made at the beginning of the pandemic to get 90% of the TELUS International Europe team to work remotely. “Everything happened within two weeks. Since then, we continue to digitalize our processes more and more, so as to maximally support the activities of our employees,” she added. They do not replace employees, but free up their time from repetitive activities, which gives a greater focus on customers. “TELUS International Europe has not laid off employees since the beginning of the CoVid-19 crisis, and new recruits are going through a digital selection process,” Ivanova explained.
Kalina Trifonova told about how to work in the field, without the possibility of a home office in the conditions of a pandemic. At the same time, the training of new employees takes place online. “We take electricity for granted, but in fact many people make it possible. Without electricity, our virtual meeting would not be possible today,” she said.
The economic forecasts for the upcoming months were summarized by the Chief economist of UniCredit Bulbank Christopher Pavlov.
“Bulgaria was hit hard by the second wave of the pandemic. The data on the effect on economic activity are contradictory, and the expectations are for a partial recovery only this year, “ Pavlov summed up. He gave as an example that the data on GDP show that Bulgaria is among the countries with the smallest decline in economic activity in the first nine months of 2020. At the same time, however, the decline in retail sales in Bulgaria is one of the most deep ones – minus 10.6% on an average annual basis, as before us in this indicator in Europe are only Slovenia and Montenegro. The situation is similar with the decline in sales of new cars – there the average annual change is -37%, and before us is only Croatia with -39%. The attitudes of households to make large purchases in Bulgaria also have a deeper decline than reported in all other European countries.
In his presentation Pavlov shared three management lessons with a high degree of uncertainty:
- Governance must be based on “knowledge”. Human knowledge is limited. We need to be honest about how far extends the knowledge we have and be aware of where the boundaries begin beyond the unknown.
- Managing in conditions of extreme uncertainty requires “courage”. Above all, courage is needed so that we do not find ourselves in the grip of the fear that is natural to feel when faced with uncertainty.
- Managing in conditions of extreme uncertainty requires “humility”. Humility is needed so that when things do not go according to our original plan, we can admit our mistakes and take an alternative course of action.