We like Macedonia. Actually, we love Macedonia. That’s why we have located our shared service centre there. Internally known as the Flow Team, their job is just that, to help our essential back office processes ‘flow’ more easily. Here’s three facts about North Macedonia that most readers of this blog might not know.
- The country boasts more than 50 lakes, has 34 mountains higher than 2,000 metres and has the fifth highest average elevation of any country in Europe
- The Macedonian alphabet wasn’t standardised until 1945
- It has the biggest cross in the World (The Millennium Cross is 66 metres high and situated on the top of the Vodno Mountain in Skopje)
Interesting huh? But then Macedonia (OK. For the benefit of any Greek readers, North Macedonia) is an interesting place. With a population of just two million and wedged between four other Balkan countries – Greece, Bulgaria, Kosovo and Bulgaria – its history is as turbulent as you would expect for a Balkan country.
In less than a year, we’ve set up in Skopje a book keeping team, a business development team, a Salesforce Administrator and, most recently a head of IT, who’ll provide 1st level/2ndlevel support to all our IT users.
Except, of course, he’ll do a lot more than that, including making our IT networks more secure and more efficient. (On day two of his employment he rationalised multiple Office 365 licenses thereby saving us several hundred pounds).
Next up in our recruitment drive there will be a desk researcher who’ll provide support to our Account Based Marketing agency, Incubai. And there’s the rub, because our back office team in Macedonia is now slowly creeping toward the front office, gradually taking over what would currently be considered ‘middle office’ functions along the way.
Our team there is young, fun and hugely conscientious, with a palpable desire to get on in life. Over a highly enjoyable Christmas dinner (North Macedonia celebrates Christmas on January 7th so luckily for my business partner and myself, we had two Christmas dinners this year) here’s what several members of the team had set themselves as their New Year’s Resolutions:
“To finish my Masters degree in Finance”.
“To teach myself Python”. (A programming language).
“To complete a course in a data science”.
These certainly made my ‘lose weight and drink less’ resolutions look puny in comparison.
North Macedonia is desperate to join the EU and will probably become a member of NATO later his year. Those memberships will give the country the security it craves and access to the markets, jobs and opportunities that its young work force so richly deserve.
We’ll be rooting for them along the way.
Simon Quarendon is a veteran marketer and communicator with a career spanning nearly 40 years. He has bought, built, sold, rescued, led and mentored just about every kind of creative communications agency in existence and run global accounts for the best in the world. Today, Simon runs the business end of Selbey Anderson, working across the group to make sure clients get the best and the agencies all prosper.