Managers under the spotlight - Evgeny Nikolsky, JTI Romania

Evgeny NIKOLSKY

General Manager, JTI Romania, Moldova, and Bulgaria

He was appointed General Manager of JTI Romania, Moldova, and Bulgaria in January 2020.

Evgeny Nikolsky joined JTI Kazakhstan (Gallaher at the time) sales in 2001. Since then he has developed his career by gaining experience in brands and trade marketing. In 2009, he was appointed Head of Sales in Kazakhstan. In 2014, Evgeny moved to Russia to manage JTI’s distributor Megapolis, and then he was appointed head of Sales for JTI Russia. In 2016, he returned to Kazakhstan to lead this market and in 2018, he led Central Asia & Mongolia cluster of markets.

As part of the CCE-R initiative meant to bring member managers under the spotlight, we had the opportunity to address Evgeny few questions from both human and professional perspectives. Enjoy the interview down below!

1. What does a working day look like for you?

A working day is great if I’m not bored. So far, that’s not the case. In brief, my day is full: meetings, field visits, calls, e-mails, presentations, business plans, etc. During this period, a working day includes at least one online meeting. A regular everyday occurrence is that I meet at least one member of my team. This is because I’m a team player; there's not something I have achieved by myself.

2. How is Evgeny Nikolsky outside the office?

One of my mottos is work hard, play hard. What does that mean? After really hard work, let’s play hard. After hard work, we really deserve to have some fun. And after work, I’m a lucky man to be able to go home and get together with my family and my Romanian dog, Teddy, who became part of it a year ago. They are a source of inspiration, they motivate me to do my best and offer me a balanced life.

3. Tell us about one important project you’re working on this year.

Since 2020 we have been working to improve our capacity in adapting to the `new reality`. We are focused on this kind of projects, because they will define our business evolution in the future. JTI is the fastest growing company in the tobacco market, and the digitalization of some of our core activities represents a challenge that we have to successfully achieve.

Within the factory, we have in progress an investment program of EUR 60 million to upgrade production capacity and, as a result, our factory will play a key role in JTI’s sourcing to the European Union MarketsAt the moment, about 75% of our production goes to export.

4. What was one big innovation your industry has benefited from over the last few years?

I think that the alternative offered to our adult consumers, of products with a potential reduced risk. At a global level, JTI is a major player in the international vaping market. Ploom X is JT Group’s latest offering in the heated tobacco sticks segment, and our most exciting and ambitious launch yet. We have just announced its roll-out across Japan.

5. What’s one great challenge the industry you’re operating in is currently facing?

Extreme and disproportionate regulations; Hate speech and the denormalization of a whole economic sector, with thousands of employees and billions of euros paid to the states’ Budgets - These are global trends that aims for radical changes, but with no constructive proposals. Besides this, one of the challenges is the lack of predictability regarding the fiscal policy and the regulatory framework. And, not least, the most important threat for us is the illegal trade with cigarettes. Fortunately, in the last two years contraband has decreased below 10% in Romania, which means increasing sales for legal companies and implicitly increasing taxes to the Budget. Only for the first nine months of 2021 we paid taxes amounting to more than Lei 4.2 bn, with about 20% more compared with the same period in 2020.

6. What’s your current hobby?

In childhood and youth, I was professionally engaged in skiing, as a member of the youth national team. Having once experienced these feelings of speed and freedom, it stays with you forever and now I’m happy to pass these skills on to my kids. Also, I'm fond of motorbiking and ATVs.

7. What’s your favourite book?

One of my favorite book is “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I first discovered these stories when I was about twelve and I’ve loved them ever since. Also, in my school years, I read a lot of Russian classics, which are examples and lessons applicable and relevant even now.

8. What piece of advice would you give to a newly appointed CEO / to a young entrepreneur?

Lead the team and work with the team, have confidence in your subordinates. Keep it simple and make it happen: set clear objectives, establish a realistic strategy, empower people to implement the plan, maintain a certain degree of flexibility and avoid micromanagement. Be open and constructive and don’t forget about continuous learning.