Even when it was founded, in the nineties of the last century, Delta stood out on our market as a company where women had the opportunity to prove themselves in the highest management positions. Today, three decades later, Delta Holding is an example of a local company with highly developed ESG standards, among which gender equality stands out—not only as an exemplary business model but as one of the pillars of the success of the entire corporation. Proof of this is the record business results achieved by Delta Holding last year, with revenues of 782.4 million euros, 30% higher than in 2021. Angelina Nekić, CEO of our company and vice president of Delta Holding, spoke with the editors of Real Estate magazine about why professionals shouldn’t be divided according to gender but only according to quality and the reality that women are taking over the real estate sector in our market.
From the beginning, Delta Holding made sure that everyone had an equal chance and that the gender structure of employees was uniform in all sectors. Is that still the case?
We have four women and three men on the company’s Executive Board. It is a fact that the number of women in management positions is impressive, but we have also never divided professionals according to gender but only according to quality. I think that diverse teams make better decisions, which is directly correlated to the financial results of a successful company.
The industry you operate in is considered a “male” one, and the entire management team of Delta Real Estate is made up of women. Why are there so many women in a “man’s business”? And does that surprise business partners?
It happened spontaneously that women took over leadership positions in our team. However, within the teams managed by my exceptional female colleagues, there are also a large number of male colleagues who are responsible for every success. Many of them are recognized as experts in their work, and they enrich the team day by day with their knowledge and expertise. Behind the successful women at Delta Real Estate are some exceptional men, both at work and at home.
I would say that women in leadership positions cause more surprises abroad. Of course, the situation is different from country to country, but when visiting real estate events around the world, we cannot help but notice that the number of women in this industry is still at a low level. I am glad that the situation in our market is significantly different. In Serbia, they have already gotten used to us, and some of the business partners pointed out that they like it when they read only women’s names on our office doors.
Real estate is the fastest-growing industry branch, but this growth is accompanied by numerous challenges when it comes to plans and expectations. How much does a strong and professional team mean to you in this situation?
It is always important to have a professional and strong team, and the challenges are only there to remind us of their importance. Real teams are not built overnight, and we have been building a team for more than three decades. A certain part of the team consists of people who started their careers at Delta and later passed on the experience and knowledge to younger colleagues. Demanding projects bring challenges and more difficult tasks that clearly indicate the importance of a strong team. We embark on every new project with the message “If it were easy, someone else would do it,” and this further shows that we believe that we have gathered and developed the best personnel.
Research shows that women are better managers, especially in crisis situations, because they show more democracy and responsibility and rely on the team more than men. Do you agree with that?
Partly because I’ve always had male coworkers and managers with these characteristics. Of course, for a high-quality gender-equal team in the company, it is important that men in all positions support their female colleagues in their progress. Realized and strong men know how to value and appreciate women without prejudice. In every company, it is necessary to build a relationship of mutual trust, collegiality, and respect for all employees, regardless of title and gender. A woman or a man in a leadership position is only someone who is first among equals.
You have been with Delta for more than two decades. You changed several positions and activities and practically grew with the company…
From the very beginning, as a young financier, I followed the impressive growth of Delta. I had the opportunity to change several different industries and gain incredible experience without changing the company. I mastered my first financial lessons within central control, and then, a few years later, real challenges followed in Delta Agrar. From privatization, property purchase, restructuring, and investment programs to participating in the establishment of the first modern orchards and farms and other adventures, we covered a lot of ground in a short time. Moving to Delta Real Estate, which was then opening the first shopping mall in Serbia and the largest residential complex, brought knowledge that was worth paying to get. Alongside more experienced colleagues, I had the opportunity to negotiate with foreign tenants, contractors, and representatives of banking groups. These were not only business lessons but also life lessons, and I grew and changed, just like Delta.
How much do you participate today in developing new Delta leaders and encouraging female colleagues to follow your path in the company?
This year, the eleventh generation of young leaders arrived in Delta. Every year, this program attracts young, ambitious, and educated personnel, whom we help find their career path through mentoring. The Delta Real Estate team includes a large number of colleagues who have gone through this program, of whom I am very proud. I enjoy watching them grow into exceptional professionals.
There are also young colleagues with whom I have had the opportunity to work and who have continued their careers in one of the Delta system companies or outside our system. I follow their careers, I look forward to their successes, and I am very proud that I had the opportunity to influence their growth and development.
I believe that women managers should encourage their female colleagues not to be afraid of commitment and love for work, that it is possible to have both a career and a family, and that with knowledge and experience comes success.