We talked about the decision to open offices in Skopje and Majorel’s future plans in Macedonia with Jonas Kohler, Implementation Manager for Majorel N.Macedonia.

Why exactly did you choose Macedonia as Majorel’s new destination?

In Macedonia we see very similar societal circumstances as in other developing countries in which we have already had a successful track record – namely Georgia and Armenia. High educated young people who speak several world-know languages and have advanced digital skills, Even though young people here are educated and skilled, they are somewhat cynical about their own employment prospects and employment opportunities that the country offers, therefore it is not uncommon to meet people who have had some experience with living or working abroad, and who look at “The West” and the western way of life with admiration. And still, these people retain a strong sense of national identity and will to contribute to the country’s social and economic life , which is often the reason they stay at home in spite of the alarmingly high rates of youth unemployment.

What we find really endearing is that Macedonia is a melting pot of different cultures and traditions, which gives people a certain type of cultural sensibility and an ability to easily understand and sympathize with the values of the customers from the region.

How does Macedonia complement Majorel’s ambitions for the region?

What is particularly important to us is that a good portion of the country’s youth speaks German and other  world-know languages fluently. In addition, we’re gaining young employees who fluently speak  languages from the region (such as Albanian and Turkish), which we have not been able to offer to our clients thus far.

How would you describe Skopje as a city?

Skopje is a fascinating city with a rich culture and history. Housing almost half of North Macedonia’s entire population, Skopje is its political, economic, educational, and cultural center. In it are interwoven a huge number of religions and ethnicities, each of them imprinting a unique mark on the city. This becomes apparent if you take a stroll around town and notice the incredible mixture of different architectural styles – archaic residential buildings from some long-gone times, erected immediately next to newer, more modern objects.

Skopje is also a dynamic city in which one always has the feeling that something exciting is going on. In Skopje you will find a mind-blowing number of both traditional and modern restaurants, unique and quirky bars, and a lot of venues for interesting outdoor activities, like hiking, mountain biking, and skiing.

What are some of the challenges that you faced when opening our first office in Macedonia?

The bureaucracy here is notoriously complicated and extensive, and seldom is a sector of the state administration fully or at least partially digitalized. This slowed us down a bit while registering the office and completing all necessary legal procedures. Due to the COVID-19 crisis and its implications on global supply chains, we also had to wait a while before receiving all the construction materials and IT equipment. However, we have to stress that we worked with experienced local partners which helped us immensely to understand the local rules of the game and assisted us in navigating the legal labyrinths.

What are the short- and long-term ambitions of Majorel in Macedonia?

In the short-term, we are looking forward to celebrating the successful implementation of our first project, establishing our brand on the local market, and raising the bar for employment in the Customer Service industry in the country. Looking further into the future, we would like to significantly grow within Skopje, as well as to expand towards other cities in North Macedonia.

What are some of the Corporate Responsibility actions you plan on implementing in Macedonia?

One of the biggest initiatives is our support of the Goethe Institute, which is trying to mitigate the brain drain, that is, the massive outflow of young talented people outside of the country. Through the project titled SkyNet, the Goethe Institute encourages young people to either stay or return back to North Macedonia, and to try and build their future here; this is something with which Majorel can help immensely. We are also planning on offering refresher German language courses for people who have learnt the language some time ago. Finally, there is also our Feel Good program through which we holistically support the physical and mental health of our employees.

Finally, did you learn anything interesting about Skopje that you think is worth sharing?

Definitely! The area where Skopje is currently located has already been inhabited – in one form or another – for more than 6 thousand years! Skopje is also the birthplace of Mother Theresa, as well as the home of the biggest traditional Bazar outside of Istanbul – the Old Skopje Bazar. 80% of Skopje was destroyed in a devastating earthquake in 1963, after which it has seen many projects for its restoration. The latest of these was a rather controversial project by the country’s previous government to fill Skopje with hundreds of statues in every corner of the city; because of this, Skopje has been unofficially dubbed “the city of statues”.

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