Aneta Serbusca: Empowering Through Balance

26.06.2024

Aneta Serbusca: Empowering Through Balance

From her early days in corporate affairs to her current leadership role, PMI Armenia’s General Manager Aneta Serbusca shared with Regional Post how she balances career, family, and the commitment to fostering a diverse and inclusive environment at PMI Armenia.

Interview : Arshak Tovmasyan
Photo : PMI Armenia  

 

As a woman who has built a successful career, in your opinion, why is it important to support women and celebrate their achievements in this context?

- That is a very nice starting point. Let me step back and go to the childhood of any woman and individual, as everything begins way before we start our professional careers. It is important to foster an inclusive and equitable society from a young age. As a mother of two boys, Aleksander and Christian, I first work on being a role model, demonstrating inclusive behavior, and treating everyone with respect and equality. My boys know the importance of consent, boundaries, and respect in all relationships, whether it’s friendship, family, personal or other.

Supporting women and celebrating their achievements is essential because it creates a more equitable and inclusive society. Historically, women have faced numerous barriers to success and have been underrepresented in various fields. By supporting women and celebrating their accomplishments, we not only recognize their talents and contributions but also send a powerful message about the value of gender equality. When women are empowered and given equal opportunities, it benefits everyone by fostering diverse perspectives, driving innovation, and promoting economic growth. 

Additionally, celebrating women’s achievements inspires and encourages future generations, showing them that gender should never be a barrier to reaching their full potential. Ultimately, supporting women is not just the right thing to do morally; it’s also a wise investment in building a better future for all.

 

How did you start your career with Philip Morris International?

- I started my career at PMI 11 years ago as Manager of Corporate Affairs – responsible for relations with government institutions, NGOs, and media. I loved the job, but eventually moved to the commercial function and general management. I could never have envisioned the enduring commitment and the wealth of experiences that would unfold over this significant period. During my career at Philip Morris, I have gained tremendous expertise & responsibility across various geographies: Eastern Europe, European Union, Middle East, South and South East Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

Throughout my journey with the company, I have watched the company evolve, adapt, and transform significantly. When I joined the company, its main business was the production and sale of cigarettes, and I could not even imagine how seriously the direction of our development would change. PMI has transformed into a company committed to building a future without cigarettes. Suffice it to say that our heated tobacco product has overtaken our leading cigarette in terms of net revenues for the first time. I am excited by this shift and proud to be part of it. We are changing the future of the world. 

 

 

What does a typical working day look like for you?

- Oh, I can’t say I have a “typical” working day. Working in a multinational company has the perfect advantage: every day is different. In my ideal working day, I spend time with my team, helping to achieve our collective goals. I love the dynamic nature of my work, where each day presents new challenges and opportunities for innovation and growth. 

I sincerely enjoy mentoring and developing my team members witnessing their growth and success. 

Overall, what I love most about my workday is the opportunity to make a meaningful impact, both within our organization and in the broader community. Each day presents a chance to drive positive change, foster innovation, and contribute to our company’s mission of transforming the smoke-free future.

 

What fundamental factors allow women to balance motherhood and a career? Can you provide tips on how you’ve managed to distribute your time and energy personally and professionally as a working mother? 

 

- Finding ways to balance your career and motherhood without getting burned out or overwhelmed is possible. Of course, finding balance requires some work in and of itself, but it is well worth the effort.

First, the environment where you work and live has to be supportive. A supportive workplace culture and policies that accommodate working mothers, such as flexible work hours, parental leave, and childcare support, can significantly ease the balancing act. The support of the family or people surrounding you is equally important, especially in the initial period: assisting with childcare responsibilities and emotional support. In my case, my husband has always been the biggest support for me!

You also need to set and keep boundaries. You need to be open and honest with employers, colleagues, and family members about your needs, boundaries, and challenges. You should also combine your work and personal calendars to avoid conflicts. I believe this is key to effectively navigating the balancing act.

Finally, remember to set aside time for yourself. Learn to give yourself a break and find opportunities to recharge in the chaos of managing work and motherhood because it’s not just for you; this is essential for maintaining physical and mental well-being amidst the demands of motherhood and a career. Remember, you need to be a powerful example for your children!

 

What specific skills or perspectives do women bring to the table, and how do they contribute to innovation and growth in any sector?

- Oh, that’s a great question. The skills and approaches women show are very diverse and specific. I believe that women bring unique perspectives, skills, and experiences to the table, and their representation in leadership positions is crucial for fostering innovation, creativity, and sustainable growth. 

Women often excel in building relationships, fostering teamwork, and facilitating effective communication. Their collaborative nature helps create inclusive environments where diverse ideas flourish, leading to innovative solutions and better decision-making. Women tend to have strong emotional intelligence, allowing them to understand and empathize with others’ perspectives, emotions, and needs. We are more empathetic, enabling us to understand team members’ feelings, anticipate customer preferences, identify market trends, and develop products and services that resonate with diverse audiences. Women are adept at approaching problems from multiple angles, thinking creatively, and finding innovative solutions. Our ability to navigate change, overcome obstacles, and learn from failure is essential for driving innovation and organizational agility in rapidly evolving industries.

I can confidently say that women’s skills, perspectives, and experiences are necessary for driving innovation, fostering creativity, and driving sustainable growth in any sector. 

 

How does Philip Morris International endorse an inclusive environment for women, and what specific programs does the company provide to support female employees’ professional development?

- We’re focused, as a company, on leveraging the full talents of both our women and men and achieving gender balance. Fostering a diverse, equitable, and inclusive workplace is not only the right thing to do. On our way to complete transformation, we must attract and retain a diverse community of innovators who can help deliver our smoke-free vision. We’re proud that women now comprise 42 percent of our workforce and more than 40 percent of our management positions globally. Meanwhile, in Armenia, this number of women in management is even higher, reaching 55 percent.

At PMI, we see diversity as our greatest strength and are committed to building an inclusive culture and workplace that reflects the world’s diversity. Our focus is on creating an environment where our employees from across the globe can be their authentic selves at work, contribute their best, support each other, and drive the innovation and consumer-centricity needed to help us achieve our vision of a smoke-free future. At PMI, we see equal pay for equal work between men and women as the baseline standard for equality. We have confirmed that our actual pay practices match our good intentions with the Global EQUAL-SALARY Certification. PM Armenia was the first and only company in Armenia to be certified with Equal Salary Certification. This proves that the organization fosters a genuinely diverse, equal, and inclusive environment. 

 

 

If you had to give one piece of advice to working mothers, what would it be?

- I don’t think one piece of advice will help a lot, but I’ll do my best! I would say the best thing to do is to prioritize self-compassion and sometimes embrace the concept of “good enough” rather than striving for perfection in every aspect of your life. Working mothers often juggle multiple responsibilities and face immense pressure to excel both personally and professionally. In the pursuit of balancing career aspirations with family commitments, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and guilty about not meeting unrealistic standards. Therefore, it’s essential to practice self-compassion and recognize that it’s okay to make mistakes, ask for help, and prioritize your well-being. Give yourself permission to let go of being perfect and instead focus on doing your best in each moment. Remember that you are doing an incredible job balancing work and family, and it’s okay to prioritize self-care, set boundaries, and ask for support when needed.
 

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