This year's motto for International Women's Day is "DigitALL: Innovation and Technology for Gender Equality". As a global software company, BE-terna took this as an opportunity to bring women into the limelight. In our four-part interview series, our female colleagues talk about their everyday lives as women in IT and what challenges still need to be overcome in the IT industry.
This week, we are with Dara – a team lead from our office in Ljubljana.
What has your career path been like so far, and which of your skills can you apply at BE-terna?BE-terna is actually my first employer – I met my future coworkers when I was a student employee in the company where BE-terna was undertaking an implementation project many years ago. I was immediately drawn to the versatility of the job and the energy of the team. Our collaboration inspired me to join the company full-time at the end of the project. I spent a few years in the Product team, developing technical and business skills as an Application consultant, and then moved on to the implementation team where I gained new project experience and levelled up to Solution Consultant. As part of the UIM (Utilities and Infrastructure Management) team, which formed later, I continued to grow as a consultant, then two years ago, I got the opportunity to take on the role of Product Owner, and I recently took over the team’s leadership. Time-management skills, being naturally very organised and detail-orientated have definitely come in handy in my line of business. Furthermore, I’ve always had a strong work ethic, with the drive and determination to push forward, and I am also curious and resourceful, quick to learn, open-minded, and function well as part of a team. These are all skills which I apply on a daily basis at BE-terna.
You recently became a Team Lead of the UIM team, which is a new milestone in your career. How do you want to contribute to your team? What is your vision of leadership?
I would obviously love for our team to continue to grow personally and professionally – to be a place of openness, acceptance, diversity, sharing; a place of positivity and good vibes where we know how to have fun but also offer help and support when needed. I want my teammates to feel heard, guided, empowered, to feel safe and secure, but at the same time curious and courageous enough to try new things, to take new paths, to tackle new challenges and explore the limits of their comfort zones and beyond. I wish to continue to cultivate genuine relationships and a sense of belonging, trust, accountability, while maintaining clear focus on goals and commitment to do what it takes to get the desired results.
When speaking to your colleagues, many mention that you have a strong leadership personality. Who or what would you say shaped you?
Although this may sound a little clichéd, I have to say that I am lucky enough to have always been around strong, courageous and caring women, who fought wholeheartedly, listened open-mindedly, knew how to be vulnerable and emotional, and would empower others to be genuine while remaining authentic and down-to-earth presences in my life. I’ve also had the incredible privilege of being mentored and guided throughout my career by some of the most capable women I've had the honour to work with; from my first Team Lead Staša Kotnik, then Tamara Slapar; co-workers like Vanda Zore, Bernarda Glavica Martinčič and last but not least my former manager, Tamara Bertok Velkavrh, who is an absolute inspiration on how to tackle leadership. Every single person in my personal and professional community gave me something I could take with me on this journey – whether it was positive or negative – and shaped who I am today.
What skills do you think a leader should have?
Besides the more obvious and traditional ones such as persistence, responsibility, communication and understanding, flexibility, creativity, decision-making, delegation, the ability to inspire others, and so on, I truly believe in leaders who have integrity, passion and courage, high emotional intelligence, listen actively, focus on relationship-building, are empathic and trustworthy, and who rely on their intuition a lot.
Name one lesson that you have already learned about leadership while taking on the new role of Team Lead.Maybe not a direct lesson as much as a reminder of some advice a dear friend gave me a while ago, which went something like this:
At any given moment, we do the best we can with the resources and information we have available.
What inspirational message would you give to all future leaders?
I'm not sure about the inspirational part, but I would like to pass on a message of how important it is to know yourself as a person on a deeper level; it is of utmost significance for leaders to cultivate self-awareness, to be mindful of our presence; to evaluate and rethink how we appear to others and what messages we convey both emotionally and energetically. This is because it all starts with you – and how you connect with others is deeply influenced by how you connect with yourself.
What makes BE-terna a great place to work for women, and how does BE-terna promote gender diversity and inclusion?BE-terna in general has a very welcoming culture – one instantly feels comfortable and accepted, team spirit is high, people are friendly, kind, and inclusive.
It’s a great place to work for both women and men, especially because it incorporates and encourages different aspects of our emotional and energetical characteristics and does not force us into a one-approach-fits-all mould.For the IT industry, which has always been typically male dominated, the Ljubljana office has many women of different ages and profiles represented quite diversely in various roles throughout the company, which goes to show that BE-terna is highly aware of the fresh approach and a unique perspective that women bring to the table.