We bring to your attention an interview with the Director of the Sensilab Company, producer of high-quality food additives, a graduate of GEA College 2005, Domen Ščukovt. In this interview, he tells about his business career and studies, which enabled him to gain valuable practical experience.
– Mr Ščukovt, let me congratulate your company on its 14th birthday!
– Thanks a lot! Yes, indeed, 14 years have passed, and our project is experiencing, I would say, the exceptional high noon of its development. We have plenty of reasons to be pleased with ourselves.
– Over the past 2–3 years, your company has experienced a serious rise. How did that come about?
– First of all, the access points to foreign markets. Today, there are already 41 of them, and we have no intentions of resting on our laurels. However, the main reason I would point out is an excellent team focused on the future. Without like-minded people, it is extremely difficult to write a success story. The key decisive rise occurred in 2017–2018, when we, with 11 million euros in annual turnover, reached a figure of 26 million euros. This year we have approximately the same growth rate, so we will hire 100 new employees.
– Did the entries to the markets of different countries differ from each other?
– Yes and no. Taking into account that our hobby is electronic commerce (selling on the Internet), which accounts for about 75% of all sales revenues, we do not face the difficulties that sometimes come from opening standard stores. Perhaps, as the most obvious problem, I would point out that it is more difficult to find people who, for example, speak Estonian, the language of the market, into which we want to enter. Hungary is also a tough nut for us due to the presence of regulatory acts, but even here we will find a solution. Next year, we have to prepare for entering the American market, where we, together with our American partner, will lunch our own production.
– What is the specificity of your industry?
– First of all, a characteristic feature is the absence of transnational corporations. There are only local and regional trademarks. The industry is on the rise, as people have an increasingly high level of health consciousness. We expect the consumption rate in Europe to reach the same rate in the United States.
– What are the basic values of your company?
– Open communication, perseverance, dedication, activity, we also gladly encourage self-reliance. We want to be a company, in which all employees can realize their desires, learn something, and make decisions independently and freely. We want employees to leave our company only if they open their own business.
– Company management – how do you see it?
– I think my key task as the leader is to help the team achieve a common goal. I am the one who has to make sure that the company employees feel comfortable. Any “manual” control is superfluous. Moreover, in my opinion, it interferes with the relations and the microclimate within the company. You must trust the people to whom you have assigned tasks, and they must trust their subordinates. Only in this way, such a large enterprise can operate efficiently. It should be also noted that exactly for this reason I have hired a coach who helps me in this process since it is not easy to manage a company, which develops as rapidly as we do. We must understand that managers are in active service with their employees, and not vice versa.
– Therefore, what competencies should a good manager have?
– If I had to single out the three basic qualities of a good leader, I would start with honesty. Without honesty, people will not follow you. Then I would point out that it is important to be a professional role model. If you expect people to have certain qualities, you must first demonstrate them yourself. As a third quality, I would call the perseverance.
– How does your company provide employee training?
– Since we are a diversified company (development, production, logistics, trade, sales on the Internet, telemarketing, export, etc.), the specifics of training differ from department to department. Sometimes we use the services of guest specialists by organizing internal training courses. Training is necessary. It is the key to progress and growth.
– Why did you choose GEA College as a place to study?
– I completed my studies in 2005 and I think that our group was one of the last ones that managed to study in Piran. I made the decision to study at GEA College because I was fundamentally interested in entrepreneurship. On the other hand, GEA College offered training under practice-oriented programmes and this attracted me.
– What was your path from a student to a director?
– I was lucky that my father, who began to write this story together with his partners, attracted me to this work. It was then that I completed my studies at GEA College in the Primorska region. I took full advantage of this opportunity, and as the company grew, I grew up myself. From the very beginning, I was in charge of a department that specialized in food additives, and thus slowly but surely I achieved what we have today. It is important that then I had the possibility to make mistakes and learned from them. I believe that in the process of professional development, a future specialist must necessarily undergo a period of internship, familiarization, and training, and this period is often extremely time-consuming. However, if you manage to finish this period alive and healthy – you are on the right track.
– What is your main motive in deciding to do business?
– All the time, I was assisting my father in his business development. When he left Lek, one of our desires with my brother was to work at Sensilab. Today, my brother is the production director, and his wife is the marketing director. Interestingly, I myself did not have a clear plan – it was born organically and naturally. However, I have always sought to create, or rather, do something meaningful. I think we are moving in the right direction!