Indira Habibovic has been a central figure in the ALPLA Sales team for twenty years now. The Dutchwoman joined the company straight after finishing her studies – initially as an assistant to the Key Account team and CCO Nicolas Lehner. For almost ten years, she has been a Global Key Account Manager and looks after ALPLA’s top customers. In this People at ALPLA interview, Indira explains why they call her ‘Heart of Hard’ and throws light on what shapes her day-to-day work at ALPLA.
Hi, Indira. It’s nice to chat with you. You have been at ALPLA for 20 years now. What have been your personal highlights?
The personal highlights in my career are closely linked to my customers. These include one of the world’s largest consumer goods manufacturers and a major producer of cleaning and household products. These two companies rank among ALPLA’s top customers, and we have established a very strong relationship with them over the years.
Take the consumer goods manufacturer, for example. Over the past few years, we’ve grown to become one of their leading global suppliers. In the Beauty Care division, we are practically their sole supplier in Europe – a remarkable testament to our outstanding collaboration. Typically, large companies like these engage with at least two packaging suppliers, making this exclusivity something truly special.
We’ve also achieved outstanding global results together, which naturally makes me very happy. Most recently, we successfully launched a completely new product in just 18 months. Not only do we have new ingredients, but we also quickly developed an extraordinary new packaging system. The system is very innovative. The packaging is super-light and reduces plastic usage in production by 45 per cent. Moreover, the bottle can be fully squeezed, ensuring every last drop of content is extracted and takes up less space in recycling banks. The bottles and caps are made from the same material, making recycling easier. The shape of the packaging has been redeveloped as well.
This customer’s high regard for me isn’t just evident through the awards we’ve received from them. During a recent meeting with our top management, one of their managers referred to me as the ‘Heart of Hard’, demonstrating the strong and appreciative relationship I’ve cultivated with this top customer.
Can you tell us more about your second key account customer?
Yes, gladly. The manufacturer of popular cleaning products and household goods is experiencing robust growth. This company is a particularly tough negotiating partner and I´m all the more pleased that we have become almost the exclusive partner in Europe. This achievement is far from guaranteed, considering that we had completely lost business in Spain, where we were once a key supplier for the customer over a decade ago. Today, we are once again their supplier there.
What makes your tasks at ALPLA particularly attractive?
No working day is the same. While I often start the day with a carefully planned schedule, it usually takes unexpected turns due to the dynamic nature of my role. I need that – I love the variety and constant challenges it brings. Additionally, I enjoy the international aspect of my job, as it involves interacting with individuals from various nationalities and cultures across multiple countries.
As a Global Key Account Manager, I am the bridge between ALPLA and the customers – a big responsibility. Ultimately, it’s important to remember that it’s not just companies dealing with each other; it’s individuals collaborating, so the interpersonal aspect is very much key. Each day, I’m deeply involved in resolving various customer issues while simultaneously focusing on expanding our global turnover with this customer. The foundation of our success lies in our strategic key account plans.
In recent years, sustainable production has taken on an increasingly important role in the market. What are your thoughts on these developments at ALPLA?
In the past, we’ve invested many resources into improving the sustainability of both our products and our company. This has been successful, and these efforts are paying off. Sustainability has also emerged as a key priority for our customers. ALPLA’s ability to embrace sustainability sets us apart and represents one of our most important strengths. This helps us and our customers achieve our goals more quickly.
Describe a typical working day for you.
As I’ve already mentioned, no day is the same. I’m always working on several projects at the same time, preparing quotations, working on project calculations, negotiating offers. Alongside these tasks, I’m continually collaborating with our team and customers to drive new projects forward.
I also do a lot of travelling, of course. And I’m really happy that we’re allowed to travel again. Face-to-face interaction makes my work easier.
I also maintain regular communication with our regional units and plants, assisting them in fulfilling customers’ requirements to the expected ALPLA quality.
Ultimately, my role involves both sustaining and advancing our current business ventures.
Which tools are essential for your work?
I’d be lost without my phone – it’s my most important tool. The same goes for my laptop. However, in-person discussions are just as vital as the tools at my disposal.
What do you do in your free time?
I love doing sport – it serves as my source of balance amid everything else. I train on the Power Plate, play paddle tennis and regular tennis, enjoy hiking or simply going for a walk along Lake Constance. I also enjoy going to dinner and having a glass of fine wine with friends.
If you had an extra hour in the day, what would you use it for?
If I had an extra hour each day, I’d simply sleep an hour longer. (laughs) My days are already pretty intense.
You can already look back on 20 years at ALPLA. Can you describe what it’s like to work for ALPLA?
ALPLA, despite its international success, retains a distinct family-oriented touch. I have wonderful colleagues spread across the globe, and my relationship with my superiors is excellent; they provide me with trust, loyalty and stability.
Throughout my career, I’ve collaborated with Alwin Lehner, the company founder, then his son Günther Lehner, and now Philipp Lehner, Alwin’s grandson, who serves as the CEO. I have experienced many wonderful things with all of them. Alwin, in particular, left a lasting impression; he was both a pioneer in the plastics industry and remarkably grounded in his approach.
He instilled this open and down-to-earth approach in his son and grandson as well. Despite the company’s size, ALPLA has managed to preserve its family-oriented and grounded culture.
Naturally, there have been challenging times, but in hindsight, the positive aspects shine through. I joined ALPLA right after completing my studies, and for me, it’s evident that staying here was the right choice.
Where do you want your ALPLA career to take you?
(laughs) When my bosses ask me about my future plans, I always say I want to become CCO one day.
Are you similar to many ALPLA employees in that you sometimes turn over packaging in the supermarkets to see if it was made by us?
Yes, fairly similar. I find myself spending quite a lot of time in supermarkets, examining different packaging. I am familiar with many products. Most are projects I’ve worked on. Besides the fact that we work on all the projects very hard, though we are not being awarded always. Still while I am shopping I feel proud of what we’ve achieved.
Senior Internal Communications Manager
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