Leadership for a sustainable future.

A portrait of Ajla Odzak, Volati Management Program (VMP)

Ajla is open-minded, funny and attentive to her surroundings. According to academic research, those are personality traits that are common in really smart people – which only confirms our image of Ajla as both intelligent and pleasant to be around. We talk about, among other things, that her work is her sport and that running is her breathing space.

Tell us about your leadership program.

Every year, Volati selects three or four economists or engineers for the program, who upon completion of the program, are offered leading positions within one of the Group companies. The program runs for 18 months and during that time we share our time between Volati and at least two of the Group companies.
At this time, I’m at the head office in Stockholm. Later I will move down to Malmö to work at Ettiketto, a label and label system supplier, to get experience from being with a manufacturing company. My target company is Salix Group, Business Area Fittings and Industry. I find it interesting to get insights into different parts of the Group and to work so closely with management teams – to experience and understand similarities and differences. I think it is a great way to develop.

“Applying to the program has been one of the best decisions of my life.”

How did you end up here?

Starting from the beginning, I grew up in Tranås which is about an hour from Jönköping. After high school, I studied for a Master’s Degree in Economics at Jönköping International Business School. During that time I had two internships in Stockholm. The idea was to move there after my studies, but I came to realize that I really liked living in Jönköping.

Before I started the VMP, I worked as a business controller at Ellos Group. That meant, for example, analyzing what drives profitability, what drives costs and how we could optimize different parts of the business. I enjoyed it very much, but one day I was contacted by a recruiter via LinkedIn who told me about Volati’s program. The design of the program sounded absolutely fantastic. During the recruitment, I had an opportunity to meet some of the previous participants in the program and I was very impressed. I quickly came to the conclusion that the program was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

What attracted me to Volati was that the Group has developed a lot in a short time and that there are always exciting things going on. There is no status quo at Volati and this suits me very well. I also like working with people who are driven, open, positive, straightforward and who encourage change. Applying to the program has been one of the best decisions of my life.

“The Group affiliation adds lots of career paths and opportunities for personal growth. There are a number of employees who have actually switched jobs between companies in the Group”

As a future leader within Salix Group, what are your thoughts on issues such as culture and sustainability?

I think our culture should be well defined and permeate everything we do. As an employee, you should thrive in your role and be proud of the local roots, heritage and entrepreneurship at your company. At the same time, you should feel that you are part of Salix, that we are several companies with a common culture, working towards common goals. Group affiliation adds lots of career paths and opportunities for personal growth. There are a number of employees who have actually switched jobs between companies in the group.

Sustainability is a key issue for me. As it relates to the environment, it really overshadows all other issues right now. Like any other business, we need to work continuously towards minimizing our climate impact. Salix is making several investments in this area.

From a social sustainability perspective, we must care about the life of our employees. We must, for example, encourage physical activity and I do think we have a culture of promoting healthy activities. Many of us exercise but we never skip a coffee break, which I think strikes a good balance.

“We must, for example, encourage physical activity and I do think we have a culture of promoting healthy activities. Many of us exercise but we never skip a coffee break, which I think strikes a good balance.”

How do you relax?

My parents come from Bosnia which is like a second home for me. I love going there. Nature is indescribably beautiful, the food is good and the weather is nice. It’s a perfect place for recovery.

When I am home and need to clear my head, I go for a run. After a while, when the endorphins kick in, I feel invincible. It’s wonderful. To me, running is never about me beating my personal best. I’m not really competing against others or myself. My job, on the other hand, is my ‘sport’. At work I am competition-oriented! Success at work gives me energy and confidence. I also do quite a lot of reading. Mostly fiction but also some non-fiction books. Reading has a similar effect on me as running does. Right now I’m reading “Who cooked Adam Smith’s dinner?” by Katrine Marçal. The book challenges economic theories, raises questions and has an important message.

“I don’t compete against others or myself when I run. My job, on the other hand, is my ‘sport’. At work I am competition-oriented! Success at work gives me energy and confidence. ”

What makes you so driven?

I find it very easy to learn, but my recipe for success is neither that I study a lot nor that I work so much. My recipe for success is finding my purpose and always asking myself ‘why am I doing this, what good will it do?’. To me, this has always been a fundamental question. It is only when I have found my purpose or defined the benefit of doing something that my drive kicks in.

What would be your focus as a manager with personnel responsibilities?

It is important to realize that there is never a one size fits all solution. All people are different. Some prefer a free and flexible way of working, while others need structure and clear instructions. Perhaps the most important thing for a manager is to know your employees well and to have a good dialogue – to see the potential in each individual and know what his or her needs are. One also has to remember that all of us spend quite a lot of our time at work and that life is too short not to have fun. It is important to be able to laugh at work – when you are successful, but also in the face of adversity. I want to contribute to a work environment everyone thinks of as positive.

“It is important to realize that there is never a one size fits all solution. All people are different.”

Facts:
The Volati Management Program is a leadership development program that runs for 18 months where participants are, in advance, assigned a target company in one of the Group’s business units. The program covers areas such as strategy, leadership and Volati’s values.
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Work at Salix Group.

Committed co-workers are our most important asset. We aim to be an attractive employer with a workplace where you thrive and find space to develop at your own pace. We are always eager and curious to meet new people and make new connections. Feel free to contact our businesses directly if you are interested in seeking new opportunities or contact our CHRO Krister Svantesson at krister.svantesson@salixgroup.se.