- I was born in Belgrade, I fell in love with skiing in Grenoble, I realized in Paris how difficult it is to be a stranger in that city, I experienced life without rain in Hawaii. I spent days and nights in Popovac, near Paraćin, trying to bring the cement factory closer to Holcim's standards, and I worked on introduction of Danish technology in beer production in Čelarevo. Now I am back in Belgrade - Andrej Beslać, the Director General of company City Express, tells his story to eKapija.
The first man of the company that is specialized for "door-to-door" delivery of packages and mail points out that his ambition is that City Express becomes the most successful company within the Austrian Postal Company. Austrian postal operator is present in Slovakia since 2002, it operates in Croatian market since 2003, it entered the market of Hungary this year, while the takeover of Bosnian package distributor 24VIP was finished at the beginning of October 2008.
- My task is to organize and improve operations of City Express in order for it to serve as a "textbook" for further privatizations by Austrian Postal Company. I am certain that we are going to achieve that because not only am I an optimist, but I also absolutely believe that the hard work gives good results – says eKapija's collocutor.
He adds that the most important thing in business is to stay true to yourself, as well as to the others. The aim that City Express becomes the leader in the region is not an uthopia, but a realistic plan that can be achieved only with the help of the chain without weak links.
All employees, regardless of the position they work on, have their functions and make a unique system – says Beslać.
Speaking of the time that is behind him now, our collocutor points out that he left Belgrade because of his father's job. They moved to Grenoble, the city at the food of the Alps, and then to Paris.
It sometimes seemed to Beslać that the life in "the City of Light“ threw shade over the people who were not born in it.
- I studied economy in Paris and had a lot of acquaintances there, but I must admit that I worked more than my other colleagues did only to prove myself. It was at the time of the war in former SFRY. It was the time when people in France were listening only to ugly stories about Serbia. I remember that my colleagues asked me once whether the sun ever shone in our country.
Since he resumed his studies in Hawaii, Beslać remembers the magnificient moments on that exotic island where the sun always shines and the people are happy and relaxed.
- They really have that Aloha spirit !
- I was playing football for the faculty in Hawaii. Those who think it was an easy thing to do are wrong. On the contrary, that is where the professional football is played. Everything was well-organized and equal attention was paid to education and training. It was not easy to play against the other teams because there were many talented students at the faculty.
Andrej, no matter how modest he may be, admits that his team was among the most popular teams at the time and the players enjoyed the titles of the university stars and had numerous privileges.
- We were followed by big audience, we had cheerleaders, faithful fans, and we travelled a lot...
Once I returned to France, I took master's degree in economy and finance at Political Sciences.
- I was very interested in brokerage operations. I worked on a stock exchange and observed so-called underdeveloped markets - Asia, Russia, Israel. However. financial crisis that followed the terrorist assault on the USA on September 11, 2001, had its first effects on the employees. I was not officially dismissed, but it was not for sure that my contract would be extended. That was one of the reasons why I returned to Serbia.
As Beslać explains, the second, much more important, reason was the fact that he was unable to become a Frenchman and he could not live his whole life as a stranger.
- I had two options: either to marry a French girl, change my habits and become a Frenchmen; or to return to Serbia.
I chose the second option and, as soon as I was back in Serbia, I got the job in Cement factory Popovac, which was then bought by Swiss company "Holcim“.
- I worked as a financial controllor in "Holcim". That was a period of adaptation. We were organizing the factory and it was then that I realized how important the cooperation between the management and the employees was. Mr Gustavo Navarro was staying late with us to help us finish all the work. I remember we were wearing helmets because mortar was falling out and cement dust was everywhere. This factory now looks as small Switzerland because the company invested significant amount of money in environment protection.
The next stop was Čelarevo.
- I moved from Popovac to Čelarevo. I got a job in Carlsbergu. That is another example of successful privatization in Serbia. We made a unique direct distribution system in that company and it was unique in the entire Carlsberg group. I am very proud of that. That is when I got interested in distribution.
The Beslać Family
- I met my wife in Popovac while she was working as an auditor in Holcim. She was studying in the USA, just like me, and she decided to come back. We have a two-year-old son and he is our main preoccupation. Skiing, which I fell in love with back in Grenoble, is my great love and I hope my son will love it too. I think that he will try skiing this year for the first time.
Business Football League
Besides, as a former football player, I am still trying to stay active in that sport. The "City Express" team plays mini football in the business league. We ended the year 2007 as the worst team, but we expect the things are going to change this year since we seriously dedicated ourselves to that sport – Beslać concludes.
Andrej Beslać speaks English and French language. He is a member of Serbian Association of Managers (SAM).