23 January 2023

Director of Technical-Operational Affairs Mladen Lujić: One Moment You Are in the Office Writing Letters, and the Next You Are Putting on Your Boots to Go to the Field

Our colleague Mladen Lujić, director of technical-operational affairs, is perceived by many as a link between the employees in the field and those in the administrative part of the company. This Master of mining joined our team more than a year ago. Before he joined our Company he was building his career in the brown coal mine in Foča, the bauxite mine in Milići and the magnesite mine in Kladanj. In an interview for our official website, Mladen talked about his daily work, the challenges he faces, but also what makes him especially happy and fulfilled as an expert in a very responsible position. He pointed out that one of his roles is to establish a balance between the field and administrative part of the company, which enables the continuous achievement of the planned goals of our company.

You are a young man, and you are in a position which carries a great responsibility. What are your daily challenges at Lykos Balkan Metals? Which segment of work particularly fulfills you?

It goes without saying that the man who is the technical director of our company must be capable of carrying great responsibility. It is a well-established opinion that young people should not be placed in positions with such a responsibility because they do not have decades of experience in managing positions. In our company, such an opinion did not take root and the Management provided an opportunity to young people who showed that they have the knowledge, courage and desire to deal with the challenges of work every day and thus improve their abilities. The job itself requires a lot of dedication, daily training, constant education, and even overtime, but for me, the job of a technical director gives me pleasure and I enjoy it.

There are many challenges, from working in the administrative part to traveling and working in the field. For example, in the field, we establish a relationship with the local community through intensive dialogues, we coordinate activities with contractors and subcontractors, we deal with the solving property-legal relations, etc., therefore, we generally deal with all the technical issues that are necessary in the work that our company performs, and of course, through that work, we explicitly represent the company and its role in society, and all that is said, you will admit, is a complex process.

The administrative part of the job requires daily management of extensive technical documentation, monitoring of deadlines, participation in planning new projects, sending memos and notifications to associates, state institutions and many other specific administrative matters. I am especially happy and fulfilled when, in the event of inspection controls, it is shown that the technical service has all the necessary documentation, that the work on the field is carried out according to all regulations and standards, which in this case shows that the relationship between the administration and the field has been brought to an enviable level. This confirms the seriousness of our company and, ultimately, leads to my personal self-affirmation in the position of technical director.

Is it difficult to explain to people what you do?

In general, people have prejudices about our work because, for one reason or another, they perceive geology as a process that endangers the environment through many types of pollution that are attributed to geology. It is considered, completely unfounded, that our goal is the automatic opening of mines at any cost (including the cost of irreversible destruction of the environment), making a profit and leaving the supposedly devastated localities. In that example, you can see that we as a company, and therefore myself as a technical director, face the challenge of demonizing our activities in the field and the very character of our work in general. This happens through a permanent negative campaign towards us, which is sometimes based on simple prejudices and misconceptions, and sometimes on a highly organized campaign to destroy the reputation of our company, which results in complex repercussions on our business. We can freely say that people still do not understand the process of geological research itself, and from this misunderstanding they are being used for the purpose of discrediting our company and, as I said, demonizing the character of our intentions and work.

From that point of view, I can tell you that sometimes it is difficult to explain to people what our goal is and what we specifically do.

How much time do you spend in the field and how much in the office? Is it hard to balance that?

I can explain it to you like this: I spend at least two days a week with people in the field, during that time there is a backlog in the interaction with the administrative part, but I always catch up through a faster pace of work in the office or eventually, if there is a need , working from home. Both jobs are very demanding because they are completely different, but each of them has its own peculiarities. In the office, maximum focus is required on protocol matters, every written word, while in the field I meet various profiles of people and their habits, professions, customs and abilities, and it is necessary to be able to quickly adapt to different working conditions, which requires different types of communication.

What general and professional qualifications should someone possess in order to hold the position of technical director?

A person with developed communication skills is definitely needed. In addition, qualities such as resourcefulness, flexibility, constructiveness, adaptability and perseverance in planning is always desirable. However, having knowledge of the geological profession is an essential requirement, as it forms the foundation for all other activities. In short, it must be a person who does not find it difficult to write memos on the computer, and in the next moment put on his boots and go out on the field in all situations where he has to show leadership skills.

There were many such situations, but I will single out one symbolic one. On one occasion, we had certain complications on the field, that required enormous effort and additional engagement. I was present on the ground, together with the general and executive director, until late at night, or rather dawn, so that we could coordinate and participate operationally in solving the problem. This was an example to our workers in the field that we are always with them and that we will be the first to be there when help is necessary.

How much have you learned about people through this job?

The good side of this job is getting to know different types of people, both from the geological profession itself and from various other fields such as state institutions and local government bodies. During my work, I learned that you should be honest with people, but also very careful. I think there are many good and bad people, but if we approach people honestly and cordially with the best intentions, everything good will return to us many times over, while sometimes bad things cannot be avoided no matter what we do.

How do you see the future of geological exploration in BiH? What can geological exploration bring as a benefit for our society?

I am sure that geological exploration on the territory of BiH, which is, in general, a geologically unexplored territory, represents an economically influential sphere from the aspect of participation in the future economic activities of our country. There are more and more companies engaged in geological exploration on the territory of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which speaks of the kind and extent of interest there is and the repercussions they can have on the future economic development of this country, and therefore on the progress of our society.

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