Explaining who we are in a single “elevator pitch” is, perhaps, the hardest task for all of us dealing with communication, especially for those with lots of years of experience behind us. Let’s say that, in this case, we’re in an elevator, that is taking us to the top of the skyscraper, where we will eventually have a nice cup of espresso and enjoy the view together…
I wrote a book on radio propaganda of fascist Italy. And based on my life’s story, a popular novel character was created. My “doing the write thing” lifestyle resulted in my PR and communications career.
My education goes from diplomacy – international relations, through postgraduate studies in communicology, to Ph.D. studies in media management. I completed a photography course out of love, and recently I had a chance to get some new, different kinds of knowledge at the “Social Innovation” course, which I attended at the University of Washington together with my colleagues from around the world.
I worked in schools as a professor of the social group of subjects and in the Ministry of Education on pioneering projects of digitalization of student enrollment in secondary schools when I was given the opportunity to work as the Minister of Finance’s right hand in his cabinet. I quit that job after only a few days when I was unofficially told that the salary was low, but the other earning opportunities were significant. It simply wasn’t my style.
As someone who does not believe there is an end in education and personal advancement, after five years, I was invited to work as a public relations adviser at the Supreme Commercial Court of the Republic of Serbia. I led a team of PR professionals in 17 regional courts, with whose assistance, as well as with the USAID CCASA and BES project, we managed to raise the transparency of commercial courts to the level that we received the prize for excellence in the implementation of the Law on Freedom of Information, awarded on the occasion of the International “I Have the Right to Know” Day.
After that, a new challenge emerged: to lay the foundations of external and internal communication in the largest national exporter at the time and, also, one of the largest pollutants – the petrochemical industry. We laid down the basics of corporate social responsibility and became actively involved in social activities. To make it available to the public, we also opened a media center, that I successfully ran, until the opportunity to move from one crisis communication to another. I took over the establishment of the Corporate Communications Department at the largest broadband company in the region, which successfully expanded its business to a total of seven countries. In addition to communication with commercial and private users, we also established digital communications across a variety of users and public platforms. Much of the communication was related to local legislation and corporate communications, which was shaken by the continuing accusations of market monopoly. Today, the company is the largest broadband and digital-TV company in the region of South-East Europe. And one of the biggest joys I remember from that period was when I got on the list of the 50 most important people of the digital television in Europe. The other good thing is that the foundation of that company, which I set at its feet at the time, is still active today and does great things for the society and the environment.
Seven years ago, I joined Microsoft as PR Lead for Serbia and Montenegro, and then took over also Cyprus and Malta, which is fantastic during the winter in continental Europe. I also worked as a regional lead for consumer, digital and social media marketing for 15, and then for 24 Central and Eastern European countries, and eventually, in 2017 took over external and internal communications for the same region. In this role, I adapt the company’s strategy to local needs, markets, and cultures, while simultaneously creating new content in a multitude of languages, and new channels of communication. The biggest challenge is leading a team of ten agencies and twenty people who contribute daily to the ideas and results that make people across Europe and Eurasia fall in love with Microsoft.
And that’s not all, because, as I said before, there is no end to learning, gaining experience, and striving to become better. I was briefly engaged in an international oil and gas company based in Amsterdam. I also spent several months leading the privatization/selling of the oldest active weekly magazine in the Balkans, managing change management, and taking care of all segments of the media company business with almost a hundred employees.
And along the way, when there is time, I do training in communication, most of which are pro bono. More than a few times my work has been recognized, so I received several international and national awards in marketing and PR, including a national award for the best crisis communication, a silver European award for the best marketing campaign for launching a new product, an international award for contributing to the development of the public relations profession, as well as some other smaller ones that I’m no less proud of.
I must also mention the most valuable, self-employment experience, which lasted for little over a year, when I worked with big TV companies, film production and distribution, the pharmaceutical industry, but also small businesses and entrepreneurs, who I was teaching for free how to set up and implement their marketing and PR strategies.
The most intense experience during this period was campaigning for some of the politicians.
When I’m not working for Microsoft or giving classes and training, I write for Forbes, Thrive Global, Medium, or slowly work on my second book. I used to be quite a provocative journalist, but experience has taught me how to restrain myself. Of course, this is not always possible, especially when some of the countries in which you work are marked as less free or non-free.
Working with different nations, cultures, and religions has made me a better and more open person. Working in various industries, in different markets, in unequally developed economies, with the day-to-day running of remote teams, has made me a manager who can adapt and deliver almost any business goal without difficulty. Working with multiple languages, on multiple communication platforms, some of which I have made with my teams from scratch, working with different media, working on different external and internal procedures and strategies, has made me a communicator that I am today. The communicator is still ready to learn and explore, carrying her experience as an asset, not a burden.
And now, the espresso… With a view. 😊