Many of us have enjoyed the exploits of Gino, Fred and Gordon on ITV as they undertake road trips around the world. So, when our CEO, COO and CFO packed their bags, ready to head out on a Balkans trip, the comparisons began… and ended just as quickly!
Whilst maybe not as entertaining or as talented in the kitchen, the trip was no less important. So, John Callachan (CEO), Simon Keeler (COO) & Julian Lamont (CFO) set out last November to visit our operational locations in Serbia and Bosnia & Herzegovina, and here is the story of that trip told by John (excluding some images that marketing has been sworn to conceal!).
A direct flight to Belgrade from Heathrow awaited today. Our offices in Belgrade opened earlier this year, and we have since been enjoying the fantastic service from Air Serbia; I can’t even complain about the inflight food.
In less than three hours, we were walking through arrivals in Serbia, where we were met by a true DDC legend, Kemal Babic, Managing Director of DDC MLS. He’s been with us since the beginning of our Balkans journey and continues to lead it with the kind of passion that has made it such a success.
After some local food and a catch-up on some of the hot topics with Kemal, it was time to rest up ahead of a busy few days. Although, the festive atmosphere and great food were hard to walk away from! This trip was incredibly important to me and the board, we continue to grow rapidly in the region. The team are such a great example of all that we love about the company, so the opportunity to spend some quality time with everyone was much needed. We want to give a voice to as many people as we can, and to us, that isn’t a suggestion box; that’s a physical presence, hearing first-hand suggestions and even criticisms to help us develop.
A great start to the day as we met face-to-face for the first time with the General Manager of our Serbian operation, Djordje Jankovic. It is important to us that within each location we operate, they have as much autonomy as possible and local representation is key to that.
We first visited our custom-built offices that are currently under construction. At the moment, we are operating under two roofs with much expansion on the horizon; we took the decision to invest in a long-term option. To see the build come to life from the drawings, we have all discussed was amazing. I can’t wait to visit the vibrant atmosphere in place when the whole team has moved in and made it their own.
Our success in Bosnia & Herzegovina has been remarkable, but it has also left us wondering how we could effectively replicate it elsewhere. So, it is hard to portray just how happy we are to see the same excellent work ethic and skill sets in Serbia. Not only fantastic language availability but the standard in which they are used, and the level of conversations we had in English was phenomenal. It really allowed us to have a great discussion around our operation, with everyone keen to put forward suggestions for improvements.
One moment really stuck with me, as I observed a member of the team as they sent an email in one language and handled a chat in another whilst speaking to me in English! Managing English at times is a challenge for me, so to see that first-hand was remarkable.
We said our goodbyes and, more importantly, expressed our gratitude to the team before we went out once more to sample the local cuisine and bars. The Christmas markets were a great touch, and the hot rakija was a nice nightcap and certainly easier to drink than the regular stuff!
Part two of the trip will be released soon…
John, Simon & Julian on Tour!