A school example of a successful career. The nerdy story, persistence, and consistency. Irena Miličević Vukoja, the founder of the Woman.comm club describes her career path with these words. It is a society of women in the communication industry of the region who are strengthening their role and transforming the communication industry. She decided to take this step after 12 years of work in marketing and PR. And Irena personally tells us her BTS story by StorsenDigital.
“I always think that it can and should be better. And I put a special focus on education because trends change. Something that used to change every ten years now changes in 10 minutes.”
Irena graduated from college at 22 and started working as an intern. After that, she moved to the assistant position and was promoted to associate director. After the next management position, she became marketing and PR director. And everything, as she states, is possible with effort, work, and constant learning.
“The coronavirus pandemic closed us down, and that’s when I decided to enroll in a doctoral study on the subject of internal PR. I realized that these are the weak points of marketing because we usually try to promote everything we do through external PR. And thus, the key to success and failure remains in what is less visible. And that is internal PR”, Irena points out.
My work needs to give me a pleasure
After 15 years of work, she realized that she had done everything she imagined in the field of retail. And she missed new ventures, ambitions, and challenges. So she decided to research the market and develop her idea.
“I realized that there are many agencies for marketing and PR in BiH. As many as forty of them. My goal was to offer something new. But I know that I want my work to please me. Very few companies invest in education. That’s why the woman.com project was born. club, and in addition to the club, the Agency focused on the story of Employer branding.”
Woman.comm club is not another story about women. On the contrary, this is a new platform where women will share experiences, improve their knowledge, and validate each other. While in the world, women are fighting for equality, in marketing, media, and PR in the countries of the hilly Balkans, they are primarily dominant.
“Over 90% of management positions in the spectrum of marketing, media, and PR are held by women in BiH. Therefore, money/budget is in the hands of women. But for women to be able to advance in the direction of breakthroughs and the introduction of new trends in this industry, we must first destroy the prejudice that marketing is an expense, not an investment,” says Irena.
Celebration of women’s achievements
She adds that through the Woman.comm club they try to break prejudices and stereotypes about women in the communication industry. Their achievements are not viewed equally to men’s. And they get the biggest compliments on their looks, so it’s not uncommon to hear, “Women in marketing are beautiful.”
Irena states that one can only discuss whether they are productive or not. Competent or not. And beauty can only be seen as a bonus, which should not affect the job position or status of the employee. Through membership in the Woman.comm club, the emphasis is placed on the success of women working in the communications industry; through the club, we celebrate women’s achievements, but also through various contents, we work on networking and developing potential, and improving the industry as a whole.
“We organize different get-togethers. Webinars, additional training. Conferences, sports gatherings, and other forms of networking. We are aware of our abilities, especially when we are united”, says Irena.
There is no success without risk.
She adds that the word multitasking was invented as a term precisely for the sake of women. They know how to handle all their roles. Like many women, she points out that her anchor is her family. But it was because of her that she made the most significant changes in her professional and private life.
“Children have brought a new dimension to my life. They changed me. I wanted to spend time with them, not be in the office all day. A happy woman is a good mother and wife. But above all, she must be happy with herself.”
There is no success without risk, so Irena honestly says there was a desire and a fear of failure.
“There were financial fears. The environment swayed me, so I even went to several corporate interviews to consider other options. However, the emotional side prevailed in the end, and I realized I still wanted to push this story. And the very first reactions showed that I had made a good decision.”
In the wake of her decision, we asked ourselves if emotions are crucial in making decisions and if there is room for them in business?
“Emotion and passion for something, including the business itself, are key. It’s the secret spice. It is bland if there is not a little salt or spice in the dish. I go through life not only with my heart, but it is always present. Ratio and emotions must be aligned. And privately, life has taught me that sometimes the heart must prevail over reason. Everything we do must have a grain of emotion and passion because if tango were danced without emotion, it would be nothing but an ordinary dance.”
We all value women
It is sometimes difficult to fight for your place in the dominantly male business world. However, Irena states that what kind of colleagues, partners, and interlocutors you have is essential.
“Everyone was born by someone. That someone is his mom. That is why we all value women. It’s more about our understanding of the situation. Femininity even gives us certain advantages sometimes.”
Woman.comm is open to new members. And every woman in the communication industry can become one of them. With a symbolic membership fee, many doors open to a world of possibilities. And their goal is to pass on the story to younger generations so that education remains an indispensable factor in any development.
“Culture and art are what we leave to children. And we have never been further away from that. So we need to return to values and cherish them. So that our children can have an example from us.”