It is always a pleasure to talk about successful stories from the Balkans. Those are the examples that make us forget the well-known labels such as unemployment, scarce of opportunities, etc. I had a chance to chat with Faruk Kovač, currently working as public affairs specialist at Coca-Cola HBC B-H Sarajevo. Recently, there has been a buzz about Coke Summership so we managed to pack all thoughts together. From his career path, opinion on the situation for youth in Bosnia and Herzegovina and Coca-Cola as an employer. This is what we talked about.
- You are an example of a young and successful person in the field of Communications and PR. I can imagine that the path to success is never easy. Can you recall one of your biggest challenges? First of all, thank you on this compliment. Each time we decide to take certain path we decide to take different type of challenges. By overcoming them on a daily basis we achieve our goals and we grow, both; professionally and personally. All challenges are unique. However, I think that none of those that I have faced in my professional carrier so far were great challenges, and, having in mind my age and fact that I have been taking progressively expanding roles and responsibilities, I believe that great challenges are yet to come.
- Before joining Coca –Cola team you worked for two agencies. What were your positions and what did you learn from them? Five-year’ experience gained in PR and marketing agencies working first as a PR officer and later taking managerial role, provided me with opportunity to gain knowledge and experience in different types of industries; from automotive industry, where I managed Peugeot BiH communication for several years, to other industries such as cosmetic, and experience in working with public and NGO sector. Each industry and client has specific needs and tailor made approach is required. Both positions, agency and Coca-Cola one, bear great responsibility, as among other we work on creation of image, engagement, stakeholder relations, reputation management on everyday basis. Tailor made approach to each client and its specific needs, understanding of the way clients run business, understanding business strategies and goals and taking all that into consideration while creating and implementing communications/PR strategies that will support those objectives were key factors for successful implementation of PR campaigns and activities.
- You are quite familiar with processes behind the scene. In your opinion, what is hidden behind a “good PR manager”? Any lessons from your experience that you might want to share? I think that a good PR manager has to be, above all, a good person that acts with integrity. He or she has to love his/her job and have passion for it. Apart from it a good PR manager should be competent, client oriented, constantly motivated to learn and open to new ideas. And of course, s/he should act with integrity.
- Currently you are employee of Coca–Cola. What are your tasks in Coca–Cola HBC B–H Sarajevo? I work in the Public Affairs & Communications Department at Coca-Cola HBC B-H Sarajevo. My Coca-Cola life started in March, and I could not have found better company to work with and better place to be such as Coca-Cola. Apart from work on different projects as a member of PA&C team, I would particularly stress out my engagement on youth development program Coke Summership, which was launched in April this year, which I have been running from April to September and which is, I have to say, my pet program.
- Bosnia and Herzegovina is buzzing about Coke Summership. Can you tell us what the motivation for a project like this was? Is the project currently on–going? Coca-Cola contributes constantly to development of local community in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Taking into consideration that youth unemployment is one of the key problems and that country’s unemployment rate is as high as 67%, it was logical to launch program that will contribute to youth empowerment. Coke Summership program provide opportunity to graduate students, and those who have completed their studies in the previous two years, with a chance to get their first work experience in the Coca-Cola system, during six-month internship program, and to work on different projects in different departments, with their supervisors, thus learning and developing their soft skills and business skills. Coke Summership successfully ended in September, and besides working on development of the same program for 2017, we have been preparing more projects for support of BiH youth.
- What is particular for the project? What are the main benefits young people can get through experience like this? Main benefit for young people provided within this program is a chance to fight against youth unemployment by preparing university students for successful business careers and giving them an opportunity to gain practical experience and business skills in a highly professional environment.
- And the final goal of the project? Coke Summership program has ended, and today 20 of the best BH students which have passed the assessment process and had their internship in the Coca-Cola system have acquired basic requirement to start working and develop their careers at the BiH market. Certain Summership program attendees have already found employment in Coca-Cola, as well as in other companies.
- In your opinion, are young people in Bosnia and Herzegovina motivated enough to strive for more in their business career? What can motivate/demotivate them the most from the business perspective? I believe that the right question is: how much companies in Bosnia and Herzegovina are motivated and willing to offer the youth a chance to start their business careers. The youth today often faces various obstacles in acquiring the first work experience. Lack of practical experience is very often recognized as one of main obstacles for young people to get a job. Coca-Cola is a positive example and I am very proud that works continuously in providing the youth with the opportunity to get their first work experience in such unique and professional environment. And, you have to admit that there is no better place for that then Coca-Cola.
- What’s currently cooking in Coca–Cola in this respect? Are there any future plans you can give us hint about? Inspired by successful implementation of this year Summership program, the results it achieved and energy and it brought, as well as potential of the youth of our country, we have already started preparation of a next year program -expanding and strengthening the existing one, aiming at reaching much higher number of youth and making bigger impact to our community in terms of improving employ-ability skills of BH youth. I am particularly proud that by strengthening this program, together with all our partners and institutions, we will be investing in our future, in young and creative people that have something to say and show, and that we will continue to contribute to well being of our community in the best possible way.
Seems like the brighter future is what Coca-Cola is striving for. Thank you Faruk for your thoughts and response to our invitation. Stay tuned for more positive examples.