Katarina, in the Moravacem cement plant you are at the position of Environmental Protection Manager. Tell us something about yourself and your career. When did you start working and in what position?
I started working in 2014, and on December 1st this year it was 7 years I’ve been working in a cement plant. I got the job through the “Talent pool” project, which is an unforgettable experience. I worked as an environmental officer for several years and that is where I built my professional path. Last year, I got the opportunity to show my experience in a more responsible managerial position.
You started your career in the cement industry, surrounded mostly by male colleagues. What did it all look like for you, as a beginner, a young girl in the “male” world, who has to prove herself and rise on the professional ladder?
It was exciting, interesting and challenging. But that feeling of positive anxiety prevailed more because it was my first work experience, than the very thought of being a woman in a predominantly male world, let’s say the male industry.
What was the most difficult thing for you during the period of adjusting to such a business environment?
Build yourself, set yourself up with colleagues in the right way in order to accept my opinion and attitude. Accepting a woman’s opinion has nothing to do with the industry itself, but it is completely individual, and I am absolutely sure that it depends on the culture that prevails in the company itself and the attitude of the management.
The importance of inclusion and diversity is often discussed in multinational companies. What do these terms mean to you? How do you define them?
I have a feeling that these two terms are mixed in Serbia. Inclusion is mainly related to the inclusion of people with special needs or disabilities in society. But inclusion is far more than that. It means creating such a ‘clime’ in society, companies, schools, communities, etc., that everyone has complete freedom to be what they really are and what they really are. Without any fear. Diversity, as the word itself tell us, reminds us that we are all so different in gender, nationality, sexual orientation, age, culture, character, etc., and that this is exactly what makes a difference in a society or business environment. Diversity is wonderful because it gives rise to different opinions, ideas, actions, creativity and initiatives, and all this leads to the growth and progress of not only companies but also society.
What advice would you give to younger colleagues who are just starting their careers, how to fight for their place in the business world?
I would advise them to build their position, and to have concrete evidence and arguments for each opinion. For a long time, women “fought” for gender equality, and I think that struggle continues today. But progress is certainly visible.