We talked to Vladimir Ivanovski, Project Manager at Coordea, a Swedish BPO company operating out of Macedonia. We talked to Vladimir in the beautiful floorplan of the office staffed by youngsters talking enthusiastically in their headsets. The positive working environment gives the synergy that the company cultivated in order to expand its customer base.
Tell us briefly about Coordea
We are a young but successful company that opened up shop seven years ago. The company offers high quality professional administrative and creative solutions to clients in the Nordic countries. We started providing accounting services but continued to explore other sectors. Now we reached the goal of expanding into sales, marketing and IT.
Has there been anything new in the company?
The new thing is that we are increasing our capacity in services in architecture, precisely interior design. We are ready to take on new niches and provide our services to new clients. The other news is the opening of our office in Skopje where the focus will be on digital marketing and sales.
How is Coordea connected to Sweden?
The company’s founders have lived and worked in Sweden for many years and this is where our main clients are located. The employees in Macedonia are responsible for providing administrative and accounting services for several Swedish companies.
Why did you decide to have your office in Tetovo?
Most of the companies in our sector are based in Skopje, but there are some in the smaller cities in Macedonia. Tetovo has what to offer. There are three universities here and a high percentage of educated young people, who have had a working experience and who speak and understanding English well. I should note that those who study here are not just from Tetovo, but from all around Macedonia. The same is true about Bitola, Veles, Gostivar, Strumica, Ohrid and so on. These towns have potentially the same quality in the workforce which can be found in the capitol. These are young people who are ready to show what they can do, without having to commute to other towns. So, the choice of Tetovo for our first base was a strategic decision. Our plan is to set up shops in other towns in Macedonia where there is good pool of young professionals.
How many people work for Coordea?
There are 50 young people in our office in Tetovo, focused on various spheres such as economics, marketing and IT support.
Is it required to know Swedish to work in Coordea?
It is required to know English very well. Swedish is not required by the company as English is spoken and widely used in Sweden. However, because of our contacts with companies in Sweden’s economic zones, it is normal for our employees to learn to understand some Swedish and that is a good start.
Do you cooperate with universities in Macedonia and do you participate at job fairs, panel discussions, etc?
Recently we participated at the career fair organized by the South-East European University (founded by Max van der Stoel and known in Macedonia as Stoel’s univeristy). We had the opportunity to meet many young people from Tetovo and those studying in the University. We have an ongoing communication with several other institutions on that level in Macedonia and we are working to develop a plan for closer cooperation. The young students are our future and it is important for us to be part of their development.
What is the biggest advantage of Coordea being located in Macedonia?
The advantage is that we are creating jobs for young people, which wouldn’t be possible without companies like ours. In my opinion, it is a good thing that the number of foreign businesses in Macedonia is on the rise. This results in people improving the quality of their skills and helps to expand the scope of professional services that we can provide to international companies, also, Macedonia now figures on the map as one of the attractive locations for BPO in Europe. Macedonia is a three hour flight from any point in Europe and there is a range of companies that fly here, which makes it logical for companies to consider coming here. Our clients receive quality professional services, a wide palette of profiles and services areas which can help them develop their business. Last but not least, I will underscore that we are living in the era of the digital economy. As a consequence of this, new companies can become global in a very short period. Here is the need for agility and international and global approach by organizations and building partnerships which don’t depend on geographic borders. Companies all around the world have need for good workforce, regardless where they are located. Macedonia has what to offer in that regard.
In what way can the institutions help in the making of seamless transition from the school desk to the workplace?
First and foremost, people out of university, for the most part, are without working experience and have a deficit of practical experience. Universities are heavy on theory but they lack on practical skills. There needs to be a better approach in that regard. A good part of what I studied at university was not presented through practical work and I had to learn many things from the beginning, which is still, part of the learning process at any job. Another thing is that universities need to open new fields of education that will be in step with global trends, such as business intelligence, visualization of information, analysis, statistics, business control, work process automatization, data science, etc. This would open up new areas for new investors from around the world.
What represents practical preparation at school for what you do at Coordea?
In my opinion, in Sweden almost everything is done online – banking, bills, etc. This removes the need for someone to process paperwork and bills by going personally to a location. The same is true for administrative tasks. It is necessary for students in Macedonia to have an experience with various software platforms which are used around the world, including here. There are many such platforms, but in essences, there are three or four types that are used in accounting. This would shorten the gap between theory and practice.
Do you have a message to companies and people who are just learning about Macedonia?
My message is that Macedonia has a lot to offer. Our success as well as the success of other companies in this sector is the best proof to that. In Coordea we receive CVs each day from people of different professional backgrounds and education. I would say, the first step is, if you have a presupposition or a stereotype about the Balkans or Macedonia, to look through it, to come here and meet your next business partners.