Woman in IT world: The first among equals
The driving force behind the coordination and mutual understanding of employees of the Bild Studio. Strict and fair, but also the first person people turn to for the advice. We asked Aleksandra how it is to be a General Manager and trustworthy person for 52 people at the same time.
Aleksandra Bošković is part of the Bild team for two years now. Initially, she found herself in the role of Marketing Manager and later became General Manager. She revealed how it is to be part of the Top management of one the fastest growing creative agencies in the Montenegro.
1. A position of the General Manager really sounds great, but tell us what is it that you actually do, or maybe it is easier to list what you do not do :)?
As in any hierarchically arranged company, this position involves managing the entire organization, projects, and people, the company’s development, business process improvement, large and small problem solving, both human and organizational, preservation and enhancement of corporate culture.
2. We know that none of your working days is typical but try to describe it to us shortly.
Morning coffee – Inbox; Project – first, second, third; Problem – Solving; Questions – Answers; The meeting – first, second, third; Pause for ad hoc questions and answers; Coffee – as a good habit, Tea – because mum told you so; Decent dose of stress; A pinch of nervousness and finally, seasoned with plenty of laughter and beautiful moments.
And yes, at the end of a day like this, I recommend a glass of red wine in winter, or beer in summer season, in the company of friends.
3. How do you deal with the fact that the entire agency, in some way, relies on your co-ordination of activities? Yet, it is a big responsibility.
It depends on day and mood. :) It is such a position that you have to be prepared for every question and by default you have to have the answer and quick solution, or an honest answer: “I do not know, but we’ll find out together”. Apart from liability to the company, you have more responsibility to the team members. You must be in constant communication with managers, so you can help them. Responsibility is divided among all managers, General Manager, is only the first among equals. :)
4. What are the skills that General Manager must possess in order to be good at his/her job?
Broad education, which is specialized in certain segments, the capacity to think in long term and to develop business, the ability to anticipate the problem and solve it before it escalates, good organizational and communication skills, ability to listen and understand. Good memory for important things, followed by the ability to forget the less important, and the experience to know how to separate the important from the unimportant.
Confidence in your team and their abilities, so that you can put your “freak control” moment to rest.
5. Communication is the key to your business. How do you manage situations in which you can not achieve an agreement with someone?
I do not give up so easily. Communication is a two-way process that involves dialogue and will not end in compromise and understanding, if you think that you’re the only one right. I believe in the exchange of arguments and opinions, so that in the end we always find a common solution.
6. Before joining Bild Studio you worked as a Coordinator of the teaching process and PR at the Faculty of Political Science. How different is the work in full service agency compared to the work at the university?
People often ask me whether is better or worse. My answer is always the same: it is much different. A different approach to the work, duties, teamwork is way more important, if you want success, of course, the desire for knowledge and learning something new is a must, because you are at the door of the trends, you follow them, you change, and flexibility is needed. Educational institutions are lagging with aligning the education system with labor market trends and thus creating a gap, which is largely mitigated by working with businesses. However, I would emphasize that the FPN was different in that regard, because of the youth of institution and human resources but namely because of the people who have given and continue to give their best to educate political science personnel, that is able to cope with modern trends and problems.
7. Was the arrival to the Bild Studio a challenge for you?
The challenge and the desire, ever since I first met Bild people, through cooperation on joint project. I was fascinated by the fact that someone of my age dared to enter the labor market, through independent entrepreneurial venture.
8. Five years ago, were you able to assume that one day you will work in the agency?
Five years ago I did not want to change the job, because I was constantly improving myself and my knowledge. The moment I felt I am stagnating, that I gave my best and that I need a change, I ventured to change everything. At one crucial moment, I came across a Mesa Selimovic quote about changes, in which he says that we begin to age the moment when we become afraid to step into the unknown; given that I was in my 20s at the time, this kind of warning gave me strength not to worry and to step into the unknown, despite the (in)security.
9. If we take into account the growing trends of XXI century, how important it is for the agency to provide various types of services?
The advantage of the full service agency is the ability to provide all client services in one place. To save client’s time and offer them a variety of options, through communication with a project manager, who will manage remaining 20 members of the team working on the project. The true beauty is that you have the ability to engage and hear multiple perspectives and ways of solving the “problem”, ie. projects within the organization. In the digital business, everything is linked: from IT services, through design and marketing, and for us as an agency, it is better when we have the entire process of creating a brand or rebranding in our hands.
10. Marketing has become one large unpredictable area of business. In your opinion, how marketing in the Montenegro differs from the marketing in region and the world?
Marketing is not so unpredictable, if you follow trends, which are really changing fast in order to give better results, which you can accurately outline and track. The difference between Montenegro and the region in terms of digital marketing and the results achieved is huge; and compared with the world, it’s even bigger. There are many reasons: small market, insufficient agencies, which are really engaged with digital marketing, ignorance and lack of recognition of the opportunities that digital marketing provides, the lack of personnel and much more. Differences are best seen when you show up at a gathering of regional agencies, such as Weekend Media Festival, and then you figure out what is the way ahead of you in terms of creative work and success achieved by these agencies. The situation is changing, but we need radical and rapid changes in order to capture the moment and engage into the regional game.
11. If you were able to change something in the functioning of the Bild Studio, what would it be?
There are few women who are engineers, therefore, we have a tendency to treat them as rare treasure and not burden them with backend technologies, but that is changing too. Failure to use diacritical marks in business communication by some colleagues engineers. Well, I had to call them out, and now, they will resent it even more. :)
12. As the General Manager, sometimes you have to be harsh and say that it is time to complete certain tasks. In these situations, is it difficult for Aleksandra to be strict, and how challenging is for the woman to be part of top management?
With the support of colleagues from the rest of the management team, it is not a difficult challenge to lead them, on the contrary. From myself I expect much more than from any member of the team and I’m trying to do my best when I’m working and as long as I see that such is the case with the rest of the team, place for strictness does not exist, but only for support and guidance. I try to be fair when making criticisms and offer arguments; therefore, if I have the arguments on my side, strictness is not hard for me, but as I said before, I do not think that strictness can achieve more than can words of support and understanding.
13. Bild Studio mostly relies on IT industry. Somehow there is the opinion that this is a profession in which women are rare. However, Bild Studio is breaking all standards in this segment, too. Do you think that other companies in Montenegro should go in that direction?
It is known that in Montenegro we don’t have many women in leadership positions, while there are many of them in the middle management. And they are doing a great job, as their fellow male colleagues in the same position. I wasn’t raised in the family, where something doesn’t belong to me, just because I’m a girl.
In addition, my mother is in a management position for 18 years, and was awarded many times for successful leadership. So there are no obstacles, and I do not want to admit and accept them. In Bild Studio we have 18 female colleagues from 53 of us, four of the ten departments are headed by women, and there is no prejudice, we track and expect the same results from all managers.
14. You’re known as a “Master for the written content”. How difficult it was to get this title?
I would not exaggerate, but literacy has somehow got lost in a sea of foreign words, abbreviations, emoticons and neglect of literary speech. By reading books, you stay faithful to a beautiful word, which even today opens all the iron doors.
15. How do you stay up to date with all different activities that happen in Bild Studio?
Through team meetings, daily exchange of information, careful listening of the colleagues, reading numerous articles and using a variety of applications. The exchange of knowledge in the Bild happens all the time through the use of the variety of formal and informal channels, in order to share an interesting story, a new trend, a new application, good design. ect.
16. By now, you’ve worked on a number of different projects, but surely there are some that you are particularly fond of, tell us which one is it?
Mentorship in “Great Summer Internship“, that continued through the project “Transfer of knowledge“, which began a few months ago. As for other projects, I like to participate when all teams are working together, the number and diversity of ideas that spawn in that process fascinates me.
17. During the “Great Summer Internship” in spite of all your daily duties, you had the role of mentor. How did you like the role of the teacher of young marketing talents?
I must admit that I was stressed about it because being a mentor is a huge responsibility. The ability to transfer knowledge in the right way, to focus and recognize the quality of young people who you are training, is really one of the toughest and most challenging tasks I have had in Bild. The success of the interns of the “Great Summer Internship”, their employment and constant progress is the biggest reward for this project and the commitment of all mentors.
18. When working with many people in different positions, stress is somehow inevitable. How do you deal with that?
I take a deep inhale and deeper exhale. Coffee break, yoga, long walks, reading books. Sometimes I like pressure, because it forces me to finish some things that have bugged me for a long time. Sometimes, none of the aforementioned helps, except for deep and long sleep.
19. What is more difficult – to be the General Manager or the person to whom people confide? :)
I do not think you can be a good manager, if people do not feel the freedom to come to you and ask how to solve issues, or just to get an advice, confirmation that they have done something well or to share their (un)success. Openness towards others, keep your feet on the ground and you keep up to reality of everyday tasks and problems that your colleagues face. To be recognized as someone who knows how to listen is a privilege, not an obligation, particularly not the difficult one.
20. If you had a a super power, what would it be? :)
21. And the final question – if you were on the “other side,” what would you ask yourself?
At the end of the day, do you like your job?
My answer would be: “Yes, very much, otherwise I could not and would not do it.”
Foto: Ksenija Iković