Career Lounge

My VIG Story

Professional perspectives and personal development may be illustrated best by concrete examples. Employees will tell you directly how they progressed within the Group and which experiences they made.

 

Robert Janouch

Robert Janouch - left

Sales team, Kooperativa
Country: Czech Republic
Hobbies and interests: sport, mainly ice hockey and Thai boxing

My VIG story

I work in sales at Kooperativa in Prague’s fourth district. My clients include companies of all sizes, foreign companies operating in the Czech Republic as well as private individuals. I enjoy meeting different people, identifying their particular requirements and offering them the best solutions. During my thirteen years here I’ve been able to develop very strong relationships with many of my clients, and secure their trust. That’s what I really like about my job.

My career
After qualifying as a chef I worked at the Mövenpick Hotel in Prague for one and a half year. But I soon realised that my future didn’t lie in cooking – there just wasn’t enough personal contact. When a good friend of mine who worked in sales at Kooperativa asked me if I wanted to give insurance a try, I jumped at the chance. And it was definitely the right decision.

A person who I’ve learnt a lot from
I learnt a lot from that friend who introduced me to Kooperativa. He’s a professional role model for me – and as the sales team manager he’s also my boss!

Ingrid Riedl

Ingrid Riedl - left

Team Leader SAP Projects, Group Accounting, Vienna Insurance Group
Country: Austria
Hobbies, interests and home life: travelling the world, hiking, culture

My VIG story
When I became Head of Accounting at Sun Alliance in 1999, I never thought that one day I would be going on business trips to Albania. Sun’s merger with Donau Versicherung was announced shortly after that and was closed in 2000. I was involved in integrating the companies’ accounting systems. Like several other functions, Donau’s accounting is handled by Wiener Städtische. I got an insight into the actuarial practice division of accounting department and eventually got responsibility for accounting and cost control for Donau Versicherung. Changing to Group accounting meant taking on new responsibilities when Wiener Städtische increased its capital in 2005. The quarterly reports according IFRS have been introduced since then and I became a Certified IFRS Accountant by attending a training at the ÖCI.
I’ve been with VIG Accounting since the separation of VIG Holding and Wiener Städtische. As Team Leader at Group Accounting I’m responsible for the region Austria and the consolidated financial statement for the Wiener Städtische Wechselseitige Verein as well as support for SAP Projects at the Group companies. I’m also in charge of the consolidation of Group internal reinsurance contracts what I find very exciting. My job involves visiting Group companies and at the moment I’m spending lots of time Albania and Turkey.

My career
I grew up in Lower Austria and did an apprenticeship at my parents’ grocery store in Stockerau. I recognised that I had was much more interested in numbers and found a job at a tax consultancy in Vienna. I was in charge for small companies in trade and service industry and therefore learnt accounting from the bottom up. After completing courses as certified management accountant and payroll accountant I took on new responsibilities.
An important stage in my career was when I joined the newly opened SAS Palais Hotel at Vienna Ringstraße. I was responsible for establishing the accounting department and as an Assistant Controller I was not only in charge of reporting to headquarters in Copenhagen but also for making up the balance. This was also my first real experience of English as a working language. As I was always keen on learning I changed to the subsidiary accounting of a leasing company and later I worked as head of accounting at the private hospital Confraternität. Due to the international approach of the Vienna International School where I was a Finance Manager afterwards, my English improved continuously. I also kept on learning and completed a controlling course at ÖCI. After six years I joined Sun Alliance.

What’s special about my job at VIG
After having worked mainly for small and medium-sized businesses, it’s a great feeling to be part of a large, stable group. I get an insight into various parts of VIG in the course of my business trips. Accounting is all about details, but it’s important not to lose sight of the big picture. And meeting colleagues from different countries and working with them is a really enjoyable aspect of the projects I work on.

A person who I’ve learnt a lot from
My father died when I was still very young, so my mother was left to raise three children on her own, as well as running the family business. She managed that amazingly and as the oldest of three children I’m happy that I could support her quite soon.

Justyna Sledziewska

Justyna Śledziewska

Managing Board member, Benefia Non-Life
Country: Poland

Profile:
-    At VIG since June 1999 as a employee of Compensa Life
-    In current position since July 2012 (appointed to the Managing Board of Benefia Life and Non-life. Managing Board member of the Benefia distribution network since September)
-    Responsibilities: Finance, investment, IT (Benefia Non-life), administration (Benefia Life)

My VIG story
My VIG career began when Compensa Life was acquired by the Group as part of its expansion in Poland. I was involved in merger management and setting up new service companies for sales and claims processing. It was an interesting time with challenging projects which made me feel like I was helping to write a new chapter in the VIG story.
 
What it means to be part of VIG
VIG is a key investor, a European financial services industry leader and a major brand in Poland. The Group enjoys high levels of brand awareness and brand recognition. Our strategy is based on continuity and sustainability. I see VIG as a very attractive employer in the insurance industry, which offers a host of professional and personal development opportunities.

My most positive experience at VIG
Being appointed to the Managing Board of three companies (smiles). VIG has grown into a pioneering, international company over the years. I've had the chance to be part of this process and to experience it first hand. It certainly wasn’t easy to enter into new markets and restructure the Group at the same time. But it seems that VIG has passed that test, and it's great to have played a part in these changes.

Svetlana Smiljanic

Svetlana Smiljanić

Managing Board member, Wiener Städtische Osiguranje
Country: Serbia

Profile:
-    At VIG since November 2004
-    In current position since March 2011
-    Responsibilities: international partnerships, Erste Group partnership, process management, logistics and organisation, human resources, life insurance, Deputy head of claims, IT, reinsurance, controlling, marketing and general secretariat

My VIG story
The VIG Plaza project was a defining moment in my Vienna Insurance Group career. As CEO of the project company from 2008-10, I was in charge of the development and construction of our new headquarters – one of the region’s most modern office buildings. Around EUR 40 million was invested, and thanks to the excellent support of the property specialists at VIG Head Office in Vienna the project was a success.
My previous experience of large international teams helped me to hold my own in an industry where you don’t find many women. Working with the contractor and the construction companies also opened my eyes to the world of design, as well as to the building trade and all the dangers and risks that go with it.
As soon as the building was handed over, we knew we’d done a great job. At that time the property bubble burst and the global economic crisis kicked in. But now I’m proud to say that we are based in a smart, energy-efficient 16,000m² building that is a one-of-a-kind in the Balkans.

What I really like about my job
Nothing ever stands still here. The decisions I take – and take responsibility for – give me the impetus to keep on improving: to learn more and to develop my skills. I think there’s nothing more inspiring than a passion for learning. And as long I can say I have that passion, I’ll always take great satisfaction from my work.

What it means to be part of VIG

VIG’s tradition, secure foundations, stability and financial strength have helped us to establish Wiener Städtische Osiguranje as a leading-edge European insurance company.
VIG has given me the unique opportunity to play a part in building a rock-solid business. We are now the fourth-largest company in the Serbian insurance market, and the second in life insurance with a market share of about 25 percent. We employ over 1,200 people in 43 branch offices.

Tomasz Borowski

Tomasz Borowski - right above

Head of General Secretariat, Compensa/VIG Polska
Country: Poland
Hobbies, interests and home life: Skiing and previously handball (former club player, and semi-professional player at secondary school)

My VIG story
My VIG story began in 2008, when I joined the Compensa General Secretariat in Warsaw as assistant to the CEO. I was mainly responsible for the activities outside Poland and analysing foreign markets which at that time were under the supervision of the CEO. Besides that, in 2010 I started working for the newly established Performance Management Personal Insurance unit, which is based in Vienna. I became Head of the General Secretariat in 2012 and I am now also the Compensa Press Officer. I have a team of four employees and we are responsible for the preparations of the Supervisory Board Meetings, Managing Board Meetings as well as handling press relations. In addition to that we monitor the Polish insurance market for the latest results and trends that may be of importance for business decisions taken by the company.

My career
After studying applied linguistics at the University of Warsaw, I completed a postgraduate course in management at the Warsaw School of Economics. During that time I worked as a translator and tour guide. Then I moved into the insurance industry. I worked for Polish insurer Warta, where I spent over a year in the general secretariat.

What’s special about my job at VIG
VIG is a fantastic employer in many ways! The company’s culture and structures give you plenty of leeway to do your job. I think that is one of the secrets of VIG’s success. The employees are often not tied to one position and they are encouraged to change jobs within the Group. This pushes us to move to the next level in our personal development. That’s what sets VIG apart.

A person who I’ve learnt a lot from
I definitely learnt a lot from working closely with Managing Board member Franz Fuchs, who is always looking ahead and is fully dedicated to his work. He asks a lot of the people he works with, but he also gives them the support they need.

Simeon Vassilev

Simeon Vassilev

Assistant to the Managing Board/Country Manager Bulgaria, Vienna Insurance Group
Countries: Austria and Bulgaria
Hobbies, interests and home life: travel, sports and skiing

My VIG story
I’ve been with the Vienna Insurance Group since May 2012. Originally I was assistant to Managing Board member Peter Höfinger, who is responsible for the Bulgarian market. Then I was given responsibility for a number of corporate business projects, including SME strategy. I’ve also been involved in a number of Bulgarian projects headed by Managing Board member Franz Fuchs. At the moment I spend about 25-30 percent of my working time in Bulgaria, but I think I’ll be there more often in future.

My career
My family comes from Bulgaria. In 1990 we moved to Austria where I went to a Bulgarian primary school in addition to the Austrian one. I worked throughout my time as an undergraduate studying for a business law degree at the Vienna University of Economics and Business, and eventually ended up at a civil engineering company. I dealt with all sorts of things there, from finance and applying for EU subsidies to distributing materials. After finishing my degree I got a job offer from VIG through the university’s ZBP Career Centre. The position suited me down to the ground.

What’s special about my job at VIG
Thanks to my background, education and circle of friends, I can speak several languages: Bulgarian, German, English, Serbian, Croatian and Russian. The amazing thing about my job is that I have the chance to use all of these languages nearly every day.
I had a really nice introduction to the company – just after joining the Group I was taken around all of VIG’s main departments and got to meet lots of my new colleagues. I quickly realised that even the very young employees have a long-standing relationship with the company. And that’s something you cannot take for granted in such a dynamic, rapidly growing business. The low staff turnover and the employees’ flexibility speak volumes about VIG as an employer.
 
A person who I’ve learnt a lot from
My parents are role models for me. They moved abroad with two children and they’ve both enjoyed successful – and contrasting – careers. My father built up his own business and my mother has a managerial position with another company. Their hard work paved the way for my brother and I to attend university.