Anita Petrova : Like it or not, when a woman achieves unmitigated success in a senior corporate role that embraces both Vending and IT, people in both sectors begin to take notice. Anita Petrova, Head of R&D, is a case in point.
Anita joined Vendon almost eleven years ago, taking responsibility for operations. Then, 7 years ago, she was handed the role of Head of R&D, replacing Kristians Vebers, when he ascended to the role of CEO. Since then, Anita’s career has been on an upward trajectory and arguably, it was her achievement in leading Vendon’s Cashless Payment project to market, in just 18 months, that sealed her reputation within the business and beyond.
Anita starts at the beginning: ‘It never felt like a small company’, she recalls, ‘because in those days, we were part of the Draugiem Group and we didn’t just share offices, we also had the benefit of their resources of knowledge, expertise and support. So, although we had just 5-8 people who were specifically dedicated to Vendon, there was always the buzz that you get from a busy environment. These days, with the recent acquisitions, I couldn’t tell you how many we employ!’ For the record, Vendon’s Riga HQ is home to around 40 staff and the company provides solutions for hundreds of vending and coffee businesses, in more than 90 countries around the world.
Today, Anita and her R&D team are focussed on making existing products even better, or as she puts it, ‘adding value for the customer’. ‘Payments are the big focus of our efforts right now’, she says, ‘with options that are both open and closed loop. We’ll continue to develop card present payments, with incorporated terminals. On top of that, we’ll also be working on our basis telemetry products for vending and OCS and of course, our loyalty platform, QuickPik, is constantly evolving.’
QuickPik is Vendon’s employee loyalty platform and mobile payment app. It is powered by Vendon’s IoT and Telemetry platform and it allows customers to offer their employees and customers special discounts and free items. They platform can also limit the number of free vends. Customers can even set varying levels of ‘freebies’ for different employee groups in certain periods of time or set a custom number of free products and beverages that are available as a bonus or a reward and this can be done daily, weekly, or monthly.
The secure Vendon Cloud platform is online 24/7, meaning that modifications to the offer can be made at any time, from anywhere.
How have things changed at Vendon since the acquisition by Azkoyen? ‘It may be a year now but we’re still in the planned transition’, Anita says. ‘We are enjoying the effective back up they provide, thanks to their experience and know-how.’
She fields a question about the future direction of the company: ‘I’m not the right person to talk to about business strategy’, she laughs, ‘but in terms of developing our products for payment, and our Vending and OCS services , I can tell you that we’ll be doing what we always do – looking for ways to bring added value for our customers.’Aside from leading her team of developers – ‘She’s doing a great job of leading and sharing her knowledge with the team in many ways’, a colleague said. ‘She takes her time to explain difficult technical solutions in simple terms and she does it with the kind of passion that brings out the best in others.’
On one final topic, Anita was uncharacteristically coy: AI. ‘Yes, AI is the subject everybody’s talking about and rest assured, we’re keeping up with developments’, she says. ‘Technically, anything can be achieved by AI, but it’s our duty to make sure that anything we bring to market is capable of making tangible improvements to the ways in which our customers run their businesses.’
So, watch this space: nobody ever made a success of R&D by giving all their secrets away…
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