Aleksandra Đurđević, CEO of Delta Auto Group, discusses the development potential of renowned automobile brands on the national market but also analyses the eternal phenomenon – the woman’s position in top business.
How do women, and how men, choose a car for themselves? Do we treat our vehicle as a part of our personal identity and image? These are just some of the questions we asked Aleksandra Đurđević, a woman with an extraordinary experience in the automotive industry and a degree from the Faculty of Philosophy. She tears down the prejudices on the position of women in men’s world and discusses her own private view of leadership.
Is it arduous, being a woman in a top job in the world of automotive industry, which is traditionally seen as men’s domain?
I wouldn’t call it arduous, because that expression implies something negative. However, it is very complex, which makes matters interesting and dynamic. Days in this job are never the same, there are always challenges and room for good ideas. One of the pre-requirements for someone being great in their job is to have that job drive them and fulfil them, so that they don’t experience it as arduous, but rather as something they succeed in and enjoy. I deeply believe, in general, that attitude and energy are what defines leadership. Gender has little to do with it, because leadership is a behaviour, not a role of any gender. It is thus quite possible that the reason I don’t feel strange in my role actually lies in these beliefs. In addition, Delta, the company I have been working in for ten years now, has a very modern view of women in business, with women perhaps even being more numerous in the company’s top management; this culture has been a part of this company for years now.
How do women choose a car for themselves and do they put emphasis on different things, compared to men?
It, of course, depends mostly on each individual person, but we often see an emphasis on the practical in women – for example, stability and feeling of safety in X (SUV) models, that the car is a practical family vehicle, with good visibility, spacious, easy to park; but also, there is a very visible emotional component when it comes to particular models and equipment. I’d say that with men, focus tends to be a little more on performance, status and cutting-edge technology. Dynamics, good steering, throttle response are typical of BMW models, reliability and longevity for Honda and image for Mini, and these are some of the “character” traits that play a pivotal role. Numerous studies, but also practice, tell us that the woman is often the person deciding on the purchase of a vehicle, so car salesmen have a complex task to answer to different perspectives and desires.
How much did the study of philosophy help you, if at all, in this field in which you have been successful for ten years now?
I think the real study starts only when we get our jobs, as only then we start to learn in the true context of life and work, intertwined.
On the other hand, I find the entire experience I got while studying at the faculty priceless. I would not be exaggerating if I said that it was my studies that set the framework for my present career, because that is where I learned to think in complex, critical and creative ways, to be self-disciplined and not to shun the most difficult tasks, but to face them head on. Staying at the Faculty, after graduating, as an assistant-demonstrator provided me with precious experience which helped me reach decisions on my career path from that point on. Faculty of Philosophy is very demanding, but in addition to developing critical thinking, the Faculty also teaches us to be high quality, independent people and if I was to choose an education path again, I would choose the same.
The company you work in represents several globally influential car brands. How different are the target groups of buyers for these brands?
Delta Auto Group is an exclusive representative for brands BMW, Honda, MINI and BMW motorcycles for Serbia and Montenegro. Target groups are very different between the brands. However, when the range of cars is so diverse, there is more difference between models sometimes than between brands (BMW offers over 50 different models of cars, with drastically different concepts).
On the other hand, all brands are German, Japanese and British premium manufacture, and one thing that all our clients share is the focus on top quality and reliability.
How do you choose a car for yourself? What do you insist on? What is important to you?
I love to drive. For me, performance is what makes the key difference between a means of transportation and a “real car”. Certainly, aesthetics and practicalities play very important roles, so that comes into the selection process, too. At that, I am certainly a demanding client.
Thanks to my job, I have the opportunity to get familiar with the latest and most advanced technologies in the automotive industry, so for me, driving electric cars was a revelation, as the feel of driving an electric car is so much different and a lot of fun. I would advise anyone who loves driving, to try driving an electric car.
Have business plans for 2018 already been set? What are your main expectations, bearing in mind the position you’re in?
We do have set plans for 2018, but also for the upcoming five years, so we are facing the upcoming year with a lot of optimism. We have a lot of new, exciting models coming – BMW has as many as eight coming up; I’d emphasize that we are in for “a year of X models” and would like to single out BMW X2, which was something that was missing from the range, then new models BMW X4, BMW X5, but also the luxurious series 8. When it comes to MINI, restyled MINI Hatch with three and five doors are coming up, as well as MINI Cabrio – and there’s a new visual identity to the brand, too. As for Honda, the long-expected CR-V is coming at the end of the year, as one of the most successful models in the segment, and in BMW and Honda motorcycles, we also have a lot of new arrivals to look forward to. We expect significant growth to continue next year as well, as we have a lot to offer to the market, with special emphasis on new segments of the market, which is something we are especially happy about
Do you like to travel? How often do you travel around Serbia and do you have your favourite hedonistic oasis in Belgrade?
Travel is what fulfils me the most and I think that to travel a lot, take high quality and diverse trips is the best education and the greatest wealth you can get. I am keeping a list of countries I visited and every year I add another one, remote and unusual. One of the newest and more interesting destinations I discovered was Myanmar, where I went as the winner of the prestigious BMW President Award, which was especially meaningful for me.
I travel around Serbia by going to new and unexplored places with family and friends and Belgrade is my favourite city, filled with oases and magical places created for enjoyment. As for hedonism, it resides in a place where you can find the people you love, good food and quality wine.
By: Ivana Čikarić