Aldina Hadžić, Executive Director of Mercedes-Be: I Live the Brand that I...

Aldina Hadžić, Executive Director of Mercedes-Be: I Live the Brand that I Represent

Even though she had not planned to be in the automotive industry and ended up there completely by accident, Aldina Hadžić, the executive director of STARline company, the authorized sales and service partner of Mercedes-Benz, is now a top expert in her work.

Interviewed by: Samila Ivković/Photographs: Vanja Lisac

From the very beginning of her studies at the Faculty of Law, Aldina wanted to be in family law, and her affinities were never in economics. However, from her first work experience, she found herself in numbers, trading and sales. Her desire for learning and advancement grew, her ambitions were bigger and now she is here, in the male world of the automotive industry.

– I started working in 2002 in F-AUTOCENTAR, as an administrative clerk and an assistant for preparing tenders, and that is how I learned about vehicles, step by step. After Ford and Volvo, I transferred to ASA Group, as a sales advisor for Audi. For years, I progressed like that and gradually moved on to management roles, and at one point I headed five brands of the VW concern, along with marketing for Porsche Sarajevo Ltd.

Was it difficult for you to find your feet in the world of automobiles, how interested in them were you previously?

– It’s about love for your work, like any other, you either love it and get by great or not. There is a resistance towards women in the automotive industry in our environment, i.e. 15 years ago it was greater than today, but when you prove that you know automobiles, that you can equally answer questions as a woman, the environment accepts you. Unfortunately, it’s a fact that as a woman you must work harder to prove that you can do it.

It is clear that you found your feet easily and proved yourself in this job, as you became the executive director at STARline Mercedes-Benz in August this year. What vision did you bring to this company?

– The desire to implement the experience and knowledge that I have gained so far, as well as the challenge to learn more and improve my managerial skills in a slightly different environment. My vision is to present the Mercedes-Benz brand, which I represent with company STARline on the B&H and Sarajevo Canton market, as it should be done for the image of this brand, to make sure that our buyers are satisfied and to conquer a large part of the market.

Which characteristics are necessary for a woman to be excellent at her job and reach a managerial role?

– Knowledge, self-confidence, organization, attitude, to live the brand that you represent 24/7, knowing people, persistence, a smile and a balance between your private and personal life. It’s not simple, but with support and a strong character, it can be done.

Every automobile seller must possess the special skill of recognizing potential buyers… Who is Mercedes-Benz intended for?

– Mercedes-Benz is a vehicle from the Premium segment, and for the most part, the vehicles are intended for corporate, businesspeople who spend a lot of time driving and who need a comfortable and safe vehicle. On the other hand, A and B class models appeal to the segment of young people and young (married) couples. The GL models are an attractive SUV category, suitable for middle-aged people, the population who enjoys sporting activities and navigation on mountainous regions.

Based on your experiences, what is the key of successful companies, like the one you work for?

– Quality of sales and post-sales, and clients who are satisfied with the services that the company offers. Certainly, also satisfied employees and a pleasant working atmosphere in the company, proactive and modern leaders who manage the company, track the market and project activities.

Can you reveal for us how you motivate your employees and make the atmosphere at work positive?

– I’m a team player and I love people; I believe that without investing in people, the quality of the company will not be long-term. Investing in people is a process that  takes longer in some places, and shorter in others, and I’m not completely in agreeance with the notion that we are all replaceable, we are of course, but at what cost… Motivation of people is encouraged every day, from the way you greet them in the morning, to the way you resolve conflicts and obstacles that you come across each day. I love that I have a positive environment and employees who find ways to do something, rather than come up with excuses about how something cannot be done.

As a successful woman, what is your advice for other women on their path to success?

– To not try to be successful in everything. It’s enough to have a career, be a mother and provide good support as a wife. The greatest success is to have a balance in all segments of life and to enjoy each success, while remaining a good person.

I assume that you are mostly surrounded by men in your work environment… How is the communication on that front, are your colleagues always ready to jump in and help?

– It is best when you enter the phase where you are equal mates who speak the “male” language, and there is mutual respect. In STARline company, there are a lot of women, so I can’t say that I’m surrounded by just men, but it’s a fact that the automotive industry is still mainly male-dominated. With a bit of charm and a lot of knowledge, communication runs perfectly smoothly.

Did you ever come across prejudice that it is not a woman’s place to be in the automotive industry?

– I did, in the very beginning of my career, as a direct sales advisor in a salon where people needed time to gain confidence in the fact that a woman, young woman at that time, was competent to help them in their decision to purchase a vehicle and that she could tell them about the vehicle’s performance. However, as I mentioned earlier, persistence, knowledge and self-confidence change the general image for the end buyers.

If you did not work in the automotive industry, what would you do? Is there something you are inclined towards?

– As most women, I assume I could see myself in the world of cosmetics and fashion. I love creams, perfume, cosmetics… I “smell”, listen in on what’s new on the market, and I like to read and research about these things.

When you want to have a break from your work commitments, how do you spend your time?

– I try to catch up on every moment with my family. I’m emotional and I love when we’re together, that fulfills me. I love to read, and I seek time for that whenever I can. I’m very lucky that I have female friends who I really love and whom I don’t have any secrets with, or holding back, so we always find a free evening for a glass of wine and laughter.

You must do a lot of business travel, can you enjoy those trips and the destinations you find yourself at?

– Thanks to this job, in all these years, I’ve really had the opportunity to go to perfect locations and enjoy socializing with very dear people from all over the world. When you love your job, every training is enjoyable, and both pleasant and useful. One part that tires you out the most is the actual trip to a certain destination and the return, everything else is a wonderful experience and memory.

In your opinion, what is the key to finding a successful balance between work and private life?

– Organization and support of your partner and family, and for everyone to be sensible.

What would you wish for yourself, both personally and business-wise, in the New Year?

– Health always comes first, strength and perseverance, new challenges, lots of laughter and a healthy environment.