Women's struggle to have equal rights like men have been a long and winding road for centuries now and is still going on. However, being a woman in tech industry, I can say there have been some major changes and that the struggle was, to say the least, rewarding.
Today, I have a pleasure of interviewing two of my great colleagues: Nevena Nikolić, a digital director and Biljana Golijanin, chief financial officer.
V: Can you share a little bit about what a typical day for you is like?
B: When I come to work, I first have breakfast and then I check my emails. Next, I open my task list and depending on the amount of work, I organize my day. I used to create my daily schedule for each day one day before, but then I realized it never works the way I planned because there are many things that come up during the day and then my schedule gets really messed up. So, I tend to prioritize tasks throughout the day.
N: I communicate with clients and colleagues and we discuss various challenges that came up during the project development. Basically, everything depends on the complexity of the project and a number of challenges we need to overcome.
V: What do you like the most about your work?
B: The best thing about my work is the opportunity to work with young enthusiastic people. I used to work in a bank where a lot of emphases is put on hierarchical structure and management where people were a bit reserved. Here, in this company, the situation is quite the opposite. Young people bursting with energy, their positive attitude, and strong ambition is what distinguishes this company from all other companies I have worked in. Everybody is very welcoming and friendly.
N: To some extent, I can say it's never boring. It’s dynamic, you get to work with a lot of people and, above all, its unpredictable. One day may take many different forms and you never know what’s around the corner. Every day is different and this is, in my view, the biggest advantage of this job.
V: Can you talk about what you look for in terms of skills or qualities for your IT teams?
B: Mutual respect, good communication, teamwork, and proactiveness.
N: Besides the technical knowledge and skills, I consider soft skills to be extremely important. I think that, in this job, it is very important to be a team player or at least make an effort to communicate easily and regularly with the rest of the team. Communication is vital when it comes to teamwork. For example, if someone has a problem and them for some reason doesn't share it with the rest of the team, it may trigger a domino effect which can jeopardize the entire project. So, yes, good communication is essential for successful teamwork.
V: I don’t think it’s any secret that many women in the tech industry have felt their gender has affected the way that they are perceived or treated. Have you ever been in a situation like that? How did you handle it?
B: I suppose that's because men are generally more interested in IT industry than women. In our company, we have 100 men colleagues and 40 women colleagues. When it comes to gender equalities, I think there is a gender pay inequality. It's a well-known fact that women are generally paid less than men for the same job they do. Personally, I can say that I experienced gender inequality in my previous job, but at this job never.
N: I can’t say that I have had such an experience.
V: What did you dream of doing when you were a little girl?
B: I wanted to be a police inspector but I also, somewhere deep down inside, always wanted to be an economist. When I was just a kid, I used to go to my mom's work ( my mom is an economist) where I spent time counting money and I really liked the idea of working with money.
N: I was fantasizing about many things but I knew one thing for sure - I wanted to work with people. I think that one thing I dreaded was having to do a monotonous job that drains all of your energy and which doesn't give you a possibility to advance in career. What's funny is that when I was a girl I used to dream of working in an office that's all in glass and full of plants, and, well this dream came true.
V: How do you feel that our culture responds to young girls who are interested in technology?
B: I honestly don't think there is any discrimination regarding the gender equality in education. Especially, nowadays, when we are bombarded by hundreds of advertisements offering mainly jobs from the field of IT industry without specifying whether its a male or a female job position. I really don't have an impression that girls education and knowledge is underrated in the society that surrounds us.
N: I haven't noticed that people have any particularly negative reaction to young girls’ choice to enter IT industry. On the other hand, many people, especially older generations don't actually know what that job entails and may have some prejudice about it. But, again, I think that things have changed and people are starting to realize that working in IT is much more than just staring at the computer all day.
V: What has been the most career-defining moment that you are proud of?
B: When I finished the college it was a completely natural thing to look for a job in banking. When I got my first job, I was really proud of myself. After only three years working at a pay desk, I was promoted and started working on operational risks.
I would say that this was a stepping stone in my career and some kind of reward. After that, I started working here where I was again promoted to the position of CFO. So, yes, things have been going really well and I am really satisfied with my current position and proud of my achievements.
N: I would have to say there were two defining moments in my career. One was a very beginning of my career when I got the job in Vega IT. Initially, I wasn't even interested in doing study practice at Vega IT, but since my friend Kristina Ostojić was so persuasive, I finally decided to give it a try and a month later I got a job. Another important and maybe life changing moment was when I was promoted to a project manager.
V: Who is your modern-day hero?
B: I would say that the person I really appreciate and admire is our CEO. The immense effort he puts into his work and incredible commitment to his job is something you simply must admire.
N: Anyone who stays true to themselves in their pursuit of whatever makes them happy and content.
V: What is your stress reliever?
B: I train every morning four times a week. This is what really moves me. Luckily, I easily get up in the morning and in no time I am full of energy and ready to start a new day. Exercising helps me maintain focus throughout the day and keeps me fresh and alert especially when I am multitasking. It's a perfect stress reliever.
N: I like to hang out, read books, listen to music. But above all, I like spending time with my friends. We sometimes gather after work and go for a coffee or a drink to a local cafe and this is where we unwind and talk about our day.
V: What advice would you give to a woman considering a career in the tech industry? Or, what advice would you give to your younger self?
B: I would definitely motivate young people to step in bravely into the world of IT because it is completely different from other industries. By that, I mean different attitude towards work and the incredible energy and strong willingness and determination of young people to use their skills and knowledge to positively influence the world that surrounds us. When I entered the world of IT I had to learn a lot of new things and face many challenges, but it definitely was worth it.
N: When I think of myself 5 years ago I must say never thought that I would be a digital director one day nor that I would be good at it. Although a job of a digital director is a really responsible and sometimes pretty stressful, it's really exciting. For the last five years, I have learned to cope with many stressful situations and I have gained valuable knowledge and experience. The only advice i would give to young people is to be persistent and go for it! Programming is a learning process and nobody expects you to know everything from the very start. Don't shy away from the things that put your soul on fire. If at first you don't succeed, try again. At the end of the day, failure is what makes us stronger and better at things we do.
V: Thank you!