Strategizing Resilience to enable Business Continuity

Risto Janevski, Director of Strategic Planning & Development in OKTA AD – Skopje

  1. What type of initiatives has OKTA undertaken over the last few months to be recognized as a company – leader in the country?

The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has strongly impacted the normal economic activities, challenging many industries, including the oil sector. As the country’s main supplier with oil derivatives, OKTA’s operations have been, and still are significantly affected by the perpetual crisis induced by the pandemic. Being one of the backbones of the local economy, we have quickly transformed our operations in order to maintain continuous workflow and adapt to the “new normal”.

By diligently applying all measures and recommendations by the Government and other relevant state institutions for prevention of the virus spread, we have downscaled workforce utilization and presence at the plant, creating backup teams, so that the operations would not be disturbed in case of a confirmed Covid-19 incident. By using contemporary digital technologies, we pre-emptively and successfully implemented a new operational model, enabling many head-office staff to work remotely from home.

In parallel, we have worked closely with the state authorities to create mechanisms for the safe movement of truck drivers across borders so as to ensure uninterrupted imports and supply of the market with high quality fuels, during this entire period.

Since the beginning of the crisis, OKTA has been in constant communication with its partners, updating them with recommendations and measures that need to be taken at the petrol stations, aimed at protecting pump attendants, as well as our consumers. As a socially responsible company, OKTA has also remained consistent with its commitment to the community. The company was among the first from the business sector that made a valuable contribution to support the public health in its efforts to combat the virus. Hence, we donated medical equipment in the amount of 50.000 EUR to the University Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile State Skopje. Moreover, OKTA has supported the Municipality of Ilinden, in its endeavors for efficient and successful organization of the educational process during the COVID-19 pandemic. The company donated 30 laptops and 10.000 protective face masks in order to assist the uninterrupted educational process in the primary schools within the territory of the Municipality.

2. What was the main motivation behind this initiative/s?

Our key priority has been to create a safe environment and protect the health of our employees, and thus their families, as well as our partners, contractors and end consumers. Following the public authorities’ guidelines and the expertise from our Group – Hellenic Petroleum, we have formulated relevant policies, measures and procedures in order to minimize all potential risks and confront the unfavorable effects more effectively.

Covering more than 70% of the fuel demand in the domestic market, we have great responsibility to ensure the smooth supply not only for our local clients, but also for our customers in the neighboring markets, while safeguarding the health of all parties involved in the supply chain. Despite all the difficulties we faced in the transportation and logistics process, we did not allow the health crisis to disturb the regular fuel supply. The introduction of strong health and safety standards have also helped us to keep our customers’ service unconstrained. Nevertheless, OKTA’s corporate strategy based on resilience and business continuity as its main pillars, supported by the strong supply chain partners and the steadfast dedication of our employees, has played a pivotal role in the company’s effective response to all serious challenges in the past nine months.

3. What is the message you would like to send to other companies in such uncertain times?

Obviously no one remained immune to the adverse effects of the crisis, including even big companies such as OKTA. Despite the series of actions that the company has assumed in order to mitigate the impacts caused by the pandemic, the imposed preventive measures, such as mobility restrictions within the country and cross-border movements, decline in air traffic, etc. have negatively affected the fuel demand.

However, even now in these hard times and uncertain market environment, we didn’t withdraw from our ongoing investment plans related to OKTA’s transformation process into a modern energy company. As an extension to our sustainable energy project launched in 2018, this year we managed to put into operation two new photovoltaic power plants, the first located at NOVA International Schools in Skopje, while the second at the textile factory MODA in Sveti Nikole. Our long-term objective is to continue to develop our clean energy transition strategy and invest in large-scale photovoltaic installations within OKTA’s facilities. This ambitious project will yield significant production of electricity from renewable sources, and increased control of our environmental footprint.

In view of the uncertainty we have all experienced, I would emphasize that if companies want to stay relevant for all the stakeholders involved, they need to stay focused on their ongoing operations despite the difficulties they will encounter, pay special attention to the wellbeing of their employees as their most valuable asset, and invest in innovative approaches to improve the company’s infrastructure, achieve energy efficiency and uphold the concept of renewable resources.

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