Amber Beverage Group (ABG) is a company that operates internationally from its head office in Luxembourg and through its production and distribution companies in Russia, Mexico, the UK, Australia and the Baltics, its historical home. ABG is a leading producer, distributor, logistics provider and retailer of alcoholic beverages in Europe.
Jekaterina Stuģe is the chief financial officer (CFO) of this formidable company group. Financial Monthly Magazine has recognized her as one of the strongest financial professionals in the Baltic region in 2017. Jekaterina has also won two awards – the prestigious Business Worldwide Global Corporate Excellence Award in the categories Most Innovative CFO from Latvia and The Strongest Growth Strategy Team in Europe. Jekaterina always seeks to change, implement, optimize and automate, resulting in the company doing much work to improve efficiency.
The greatest satisfaction for Jekaterina is the consolidated team, without which achievements would not be possible. Perhaps the key to why things have gone so quickly and successfully is that people from different departments have fit together like well-oiled gears and are able to switch from their day-to-day tasks to participation in important projects and together move toward a goal.
Amber Beverage Group has made significant changes over the past three, four years. ABG has been actively acquiring companies from the industry in various countries, and there are not too many Latvian companies with such a broad view of investment around the world. It is noteworthy that Amber Beverage Group can close merger and acquisition deals and then integrate the acquisition into the group in a comparatively short time. Jekaterina says this is because the standardized processes for IT, accounting, human resources management etc. are so well-honed at the Luxembourg-based company, that it is simple to add companies where these processes are managed and served from Latvia.
Jekaterina says that getting used to change is the biggest challenge in every company. “Thinking of how and what to change and do differently gets done quickly. The main thing is to implement it afterwards, and this stage is the most complicated. Especially, when it comes to making people believe that they need these changes and convincing them to see them as something positive and not as a threat. But that, too, is a very interesting process,” she says.
Presently all that has been started has succeeded, but one cannot relax, because new alcoholic beverage production, sales and distribution companies continue to appear in the group, the product portfolio broadens constantly and there is ongoing internal regrouping, re-evaluation and improvement of processes. Market conditions also transform, and changes don’t stop.
“In view of the overall ambition of the group, there will never be a quiet time in our life. There is always something to achieve. As soon as things seem to be running smoothly, you come up with new ideas on how to do something else differently,” says Jekaterina, adding that this is what fascinates her. No workday can be called typical because each is different and filled with new challenges. Doesn’t that make one tired? “No, quite the contrary. I am the person who sometimes disturbs the peace; I am the one turning the crank of change, because I like improvements and advancement. I can’t work at a routine job, I need forward movement,” she says.