Dragoslava Jovanovic
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“Respect, honesty and curiosity help to build bridges between generations”

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In our Diversity@NORMA series, we highlight the diversity of personalities that work at NORMA Group. In 2023, the focus is on the various generations of NORMA Group employees. Colleagues from different departments, countries and age groups report on the experiences they have had working with older and younger colleagues and how a cross-generational exchange of information and ideas takes place at NORMA Group.

In this interview, Dragoslava Jovanovic, AX Operations Coach/Shared Services Manager at the NORMA Group site in Subotica, Serbia, talks about her most memorable experiences in terms of cross-generational exchange at NORMA Group and why she has been working at the company for twelve years.

Dragoslava, what is the make-up of your team in terms of ages and generations?

I basically work in two teams. One is ICT EMEA, a regional team that includes a mix of age groups and with almost all generations represented.

I am the oldest team member in the smaller team that I lead within ICT EMEA, which is called ICT EMEA Shared Operations. My colleagues are about 20 to 30 years younger than me.

What do you see as the biggest differences between younger and older people?

On the side of the older generation, there is a lot of experience and resilience and, most importantly, a lot of knowledge. And on the side of the younger generation, there is an enormous amount of energy, creativity and a degree of comfort when it comes to using digital devices.

“It’s in the nature of things that there are differences between people from the older and younger generations – not only in terms of professional life, but also in everyday life.”

These two sides, despite their differences, are compatible and have a tremendous amount of potential if we recognize, accept and respect the differences.

And what are the differences in their approach to work?

I hardly notice the differences in my day-to-day work. But when I really think about it, of course there are differences – in terms of creativity, the way challenges are approached and solved, and adaptability to change, an area where younger generations have a clear advantage.

That’s because they are more open to new ideas and more versatile in their response to the kinds of challenges we face. Older colleagues are very patient, resilient and structured. But the world we live in is extremely fast-paced, and they can sometimes be perceived as slow.

“But if we treat each other with respect, honesty and curiosity, we can work together as a team and successfully achieve our shared goals.”

For me, that’s the way we build bridges between generations, and that’s also how we work in my team. We have found common ground and are working hard to accomplish a goal that we all share.

Would you say that there is an intercultural exchange at NORMA Group? And if there is, what does it look like?

Yes, I see every day that there is an exchange and sharing of knowledge, ideas and experiences. We listen to each other and learn from each other. I suppose that’s why I hardly notice the differences between the generations anymore.

What have you managed to learn from your younger colleagues?

Throughout my time at NORMA Group, I have had the privilege of supervising and coaching a number of students and interns – something that has been an amazing experience for me. I have learned so many new things with each new generation.

I have learned to see the world through their eyes – how they face challenges, how they adapt to new situations in this fast-paced world, and how they manage to come up with solutions to problems. All of that has been invaluable, and it has really helped me stay flexible and more open to the innovations that come my way every day.

Have you experienced a highlight at NORMA Group that has to do with the topic of intergenerational exchange?

The mentoring program, which I have been doing for years, is a real highlight for me. We all contribute with our differing views, ideas and experiences. If we see this as an opportunity to encourage and develop each other, then it advances us all.

“That’s what I like so much about working at NORMA Group: Since I first started at the company twelve years ago, I have continuously developed.”

And that’s also what I want to pass on to my colleagues as a mentor – to learn, to share experiences and to develop.

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