Anna Gabrovska: Philip Morris Bulgaria is a Springboard for Young Talents

The annual internship program of Philip Morris Bulgaria in 2024 undergoes a transformation with the clear idea to give the opportunity to apply not only to students, but also to already graduated young people who are at the beginning of their professional path. The IMPACT Graduate Program lasts 6 months, during which participants will have the opportunity to work on real business projects and be mentored by professionals with years of experience and expertise. Applications for the program begin in February at Anna Gabrovska, Head of Culture and Human Capital at Philip Morris Bulgaria, tells more about the programme and the added value of working in a company with a mission.

You recently announced the launch of the IMPACT graduate program, which is aimed at young talent. How does it differ from your previous annual internship programs?

I would call this program a successor to our previous internship programs, which have always proven to be extremely successful. The focus when we created the IMPACT Graduate Program was to broaden our target group and provide an opportunity for not only students to apply, but also young people who have already graduated. We want these young people who have already graduated, or even have 1-2 years of internship in different places, to join the program to gain experience in a multicultural environment, to work on real business projects with high-level professionals. In this spirit, we are expanding opportunities for young people to apply with us. I believe that Philip Morris Bulgaria is a real springboard for young talent and proof of this is the fact that some of the participants from previous years are working and developing in our company after completing their internship.

Big companies in the market often compete for young and curious people with a willingness to develop. But who do you think are the companies that succeed in attracting the attention of the young and why?

These are companies with a vision for the future. Companies that demonstrate a commitment to issues such as sustainability, social responsibility, diversity and inclusion. Companies that don’t just declare, but act. Our goal is to build a sustainable smoke-free future by offering alternatives to cigarettes that have the potential to improve public health. For the new generation currently embarking on their career path, it is crucial that they believe in the vision of the company they work for. To see meaning. Then they begin to build an affiliation with the organization. If we have to think about whether the usual Maslow’s pyramid motivational factors are elements of young talent’s motivation to apply to us – yes, they are no exception either. Compensation is important, company focus on employee wellness is important, working in a multinational environment is important. But most important is the feeling that everyone’s work brings value. That feeling comes if the company’s mission is meaningful. Ours undoubtedly is, which is why we enjoy such interest when we talk about Philip Morris Bulgaria in our role as an employer.

How will the IMPACT Graduate Program contribute to the career development of its participants?

I would highlight a few key things – IMPACT Graduate Program participants will work in a multinational environment, on real business projects with real relevance to the organisation and supported by senior level professionals who will help them develop and learn. All of this will happen within 6 months, the duration of the programme. Naturally it is staggered so that we will have an induction period for the young talent where we will tell them about the business, the different functions within the organisation and how each of these functions contribute to delivering our vision to build a smoke free future. In addition to the induction, young colleagues will also have exposure to the marketplace so they can see in practice how we work with our partners and customers. I believe that the company’s reputation, its success in Bulgaria and globally, and our internal culture are an extremely solid professional foundation for young talent. The added value of being part of a program that not only gives you theory, but also the opportunity to be part of making projects happen on the ground is huge.

Do you notice differences in the work ethic of different generations? How does Philip Morris Bulgaria’s corporate culture manage to balance the expectations and behaviors of different generations in the workplace?

There are countless articles and information on what the difference is between the preferences of different generations. One major difference is that young people participating in such internship programs are aware of what their desires are, they know very clearly what their goals are. But together with the desire to develop professionally, to become good experts in a particular field, they have a very strong sense of how valuable their personal life is. The fact is that the younger generation teaches us that we can develop wonderfully and at the same time respect personal space and vivid individuality. On the other hand, while we learn from the new generation, it also learns from the generations it meets in the workplace for the simple reason that young people do not yet have work habits in place. Regardless of the generations on our team, our internal culture finds balance based on respect, honesty, interaction between colleagues and teams, inclusion and diversity. All of these themes transcend generational stereotypes and build a strong work environment.

The company has been named a Top Employer for the 8th consecutive year on a local, European and global level. How is this sustained success achieved over time and is it important for your young team members?

I believe high standards have led us to this recognition for 8 years now. We learn from everything we do. Our business is evolving at such a speed that we are changing with it, innovating and adapting. When we talk about standards, we talk about standards in each of the core pillars of HR. For example, the targeting, appraisal and development of our employees, recruitment, onboarding, training and up-skilling of employees, everything to do with internal culture and values, talent management, employee engagement activities, building our employer brand. All these elements and more require on the one hand a consistent focus in the way we work and on the other hand the energy to keep chasing the highest level of performance. In order to be certified as a Top Employer we undergo an audit every year by the Top Employers Institute. We are extremely proud that our high performance policies, business strategy and internal culture that drives wellbeing and authenticity in our colleagues have been recognised and valued for 8 consecutive years. And yes, this distinction is important to every member of our team, because all of our colleagues consider us to be top employees who drive our mission forward locally and globally. For talent in the job market, this award gives the confidence that our company is a place where talent, energy and hard work will be appreciated and recognized.