She is energetic, propulsive, and ambitious. After a thoughtful deliberation, she took over the Skaza family business a leading company in the plastic processing and manufacturing in Slovenia and turned the company from a manufacturing unit into a successful development and sales company. Openness to new ideas, integration of diverse branches, constant search of new opportunities, materials, and combinations, as well cooperation that seemed impossible before, have paved the path of the Skaza company to become what it is today.
Respect for natural resources with a focus on reusable materials and products with high esthetic standards (their products or integral parts have been used in more than five million households worldwide) represent the heart of the company, whereas they list people as their greatest asset. They have established strong cooperation with important global multinational companies, and also created their own trademarks, such as Bokashi Organico and Skaza Style your life. London’s stock exchange group has listed Skaza among 1000 fastest-growing and most dynamic small and medium-sized enterprises in Europe. The company has received many national as well as international awards, including the 2014 Gazela title, the 2016 Gazela of Savinja and Zasavje region, and was awarded the Creator of the century by International Economic Forum for Central and Southeastern Europe. Tanja Skaza was also named young Manager of 2015, European best manager in the region of SE and Central Europe in 2015, just to list a few.
From the beginning of your professional path in Plastika Skaza, you have won many victories and finished numerous successful projects. What would you consider to be your greatest achievement since you took over the management of the company?
I believe that success is a result of all the work that has been done, in our case during the forty years of existence, and is therefore not just a reflection of one person. During these years, Skaza has achieved many successes; some of them reach the media and some don’t but are still very important for our company.
Looking at my own experiences in this company, I am most proud of the fact that Skaza is recognized for the development and creation of its own brand. Throughout my career, I have tried to demonstrate to everyone, that there is always another way and they followed me in this endeavor. What I count as a success is also that people saw and recognized both their own’s capabilities and our company’s possibilities and have learned that you can achieve anything as long as you stay motivated and persistent.
Is there any situation in your career you wish you would have done differently? What did you learn from such situations?
Of course there are. Certain investments were lost mostly due to mistakes we made and insufficient knowledge we had. I am thinking here of real estates purchased at the wrong time, our presence at the wrong market, appointing people in wrong positions; so basically any situation, when money was spent unnecessarily. Looking back, I think that most of the times the expectations of the employees did not match the employer’s . Sometimes, not enough people were included in the changes that our company had been undergoing and I believe we should not underestimate each other; instead, we should be aware of our knowledge which is what makes changes. Each situation has given me something and made me a better person and the leader I am today.
How do you together with your team create or recognize new trends on the market?
In order to create and recognize new trends on the market, we tend to communicate a lot, perform market research, follow different blogs, current trends both at home as well as abroad, and educate constantly. However, the most valuable are communication with the team and internal brainstorming. I am happy to have an excellent team that I can trust and that can work on their own and create new ideas and products.
What are your company’s core values and how do they reflect in the everyday running of your business?
In our company, we follow five key values: experience, responsibility, goals, courage, and natural resources.
Experience connects our company with the customer/buyer who we want to leave completely thrilled with our experience and the beauty of our products and solutions.
Responsibility is the value of every mature society and includes a commitment to fulfill each promise given to every person involved. Our goals are high as this is the only way to meet our customers’ expectations. Courage gives us the strength to cope with everyday challenges and the ability to always find the right solutions that inspire people. We treat natural resources with respect because we believe in a sustainable world. Only in that way can we exceed expectations which is also Skaza’s tagline.
Organizational culture is one of the key elements for the success of a company. How do you help new employees to adopt organizational culture and value of the company?
Organizational culture relates to the above-listed values. This is who we are and this is our culture. This is what the Skaza company is about, but communication and honesty are the basis of everything. An open relationship is a key that enables a person to adopt an organization, but this does not mean that everyone should follow these values in their personal life. These five universal values are the basis, but we promote also trust, respect, persistence, and motivation.
Every good leader is a fantastic mentor and motivator. How do you motivate your team?
I value in every co-worker if they are authentic and unique and able to show that. I want from everybody to offer me an added value in the fields they are best at and are capable to further enrich their benefits. I motivate my co-workers by giving them free hands in regards to their wishes and direct them to work wherever they think are best at and where they believe they can potentially grow.
Do you have a mentor? Who is it (if not classified)?
I have many role models who are basically my mentors, as their knowledge, experiences, and way of thinking inspire me and give me content that I use in my own work. Many of them are Slovene businesswoman and businessman: Iza Login, Joc Pečečnik, Marjan Batagelj, to name a few The group of my idols also include Simon Sinek, Robin Sharma, Oprah, Richard Branson, and many more.
According to your experience, what do you think is the recipe for a longterm success?
The recipe is to have a strategic vision for your company, great organization, clear goals, and responsibility. Trust is also really important, which first needs to exist within the company that then leads to gaining trust from customers and clients as well.
An excellent leader is … (finish this statement according to your opinion)
A truly good leader is someone who reaches results and is followed by their employees. A leader is in front of a group of people who trust them and help your company succeed. If I generalize, a good leader is an expert in their field, focused, creative thinker, has the ability to delegate responsibilities and builds relationships adequately.
Next to your new logo, there’s a fantastic statement in your blog about how all the barriers lie within us and that the logo represents both male and female energy. This is a sign of how open you are. What do you do to grow both as a person and s businesswoman?
To grow both as a person and a businesswoman, I never stop learning and educating myself – that is simply necessary due to quick market changes that need to be followed.
you have to follow that. I regularly follow the trends in human resources and in the industry as well as.
I take time for myself and my family because I am aware that if a person is happy in their private life this will show in the business environment too. I am conscious that in order to reach good business results and develop great relationships, I need to help our employees.
Can you name one person (or more) who has tremendously impacted your performance and thinking?
In the past, I looked up to my aunt, who is a judge and who has taught me from the very early childhood the importance of being a lady. She always gave me useful advice on what a woman needs to be a lady. She thought me that a woman was not created just to be a housekeeper but to take care of her life. She has always told me that women’s purpose in this world is to leave a mark in society.
I was touched by her words and actions and to this moment, I live in a business spirit to not stay unnoticed and to leave a positive mark in the local environment and the world in general.
Where do you find your inexhaustible motivation for your work?
If a locomotive pulls slowly, the whole train runs slow. I am aware of my role as a motivator, activator, speaker, and a listener in our company. As a leader, you often find yourself alone and have to find a new source of energy that gives me motivation for my work. What drives me the most are my loving family, friends, and also many close co-workers. It is also important to find time to relax, disconnect, exercise, and take time to read a good book.
Do you have your morning or evening ritual of success, that gives you your incredible drive If yes, could you describe it?
I begin my mornings with meditation, exercise, reading positive articles, and a cup of good coffee. I do this regardless where I am. This is my morning routine and I can not imagine a day without it.
Every now and then I like to disconnect and take time for myself which is what I also recommend to all businesswomen and employed women. It is important to take short disconnections because they help revitalize your body and soul. They need to be balanced in order for us to be able to perform at a high level which is expected of us at work, home and in society.
Which book(s) is currently on your nightstand?
I have always at least one book on my bedside table; currently, I’m reading The Element by Ken Robinson.
You are a visionary and a very successful businesswoman. What message do you want to give to the world with your work?
I want to show people, that you can achieve just about anything, if you truly want it and if you have a clear goal. I wish that everyone would start a day grateful for having another creative day in front of them, thinking positively and smiling sincerely. I would like that people would be happy for success and changes of others and celebrate them with them. Also, I would like people to realize that hard work pays off. They should never give up even though it can be hard sometimes because every successful work pays off and every good work is rewarded with something even better.
What advice would you give to all the leaders starting their professional career that will enable them to become splendid leaders?
I advise everybody that is starting their professional career to firs find their passion and then follow the goals they have set for themselves. They need to communicate openly with the team, listen to them, and build a good relationship with them. True leaders are not born, they are made – with years and experiences. I would like them to consider their work as a terrific opportunity for both personal and professional growth and the growth of their team that will reach fantastic results with their help. This is also the only and the most genuine indicator of good work and the best reward for all the effort.
The Leadership that inspires series is a monthly interview with successful businesswomen and businessmen sharing their leadership experiences with the intention to INSPIRE and to PROMOTE good leadership practices. They are exceptional, changing the world as we speak, and leaving their positive mark in business.