Radojka, tell us something about yourself and your career path in the cement plant. When did you start working and how long have you been working in your current position as IT Manager?
I have been working as a computer engineer in the cement plant for more than 2 decades, and I remember, in the beginning it was not easy in the then Cement plant “Novi Popovac” – I worked as a programmer as a volunteer for three months (free of charge) and the only condition I got the job was for users to be satisfied with my program.
It was a big challenge for me, at the time, to work in a multinational environment as a Database Administrator.
I am currently in the position of Head of IT Service, i.e. IT Manager. Today, as well as before, it is imperative and my biggest goal to achieve maximum end-user satisfaction. The task, not only of me, but of the entire IT department is to fully guarantee the security, availability, confidentiality, integrity and authenticity of both the data in the company and all IT services. Success is achieved by a generally good team organization, open communication with colleagues and a priority approach to problem solving. I can say that today, more than ever, our work is very dynamic, interesting, innovative and equally attractive for both colleagues and young colleagues.
So, it can be said that you have spent most of your career in a male environment because IT is mostly considered a “male” occupation. What does it look like to always be in the minority? Was it a challenge for you or did you consider yourself an unequal participant in all meetings and projects?
Well I wouldn’t quite agree. Back in the Mathematical Gymnasium, there were half-half of us in the direction of programmers, according to the number of boys and girls, but maybe something has changed now. In Tito’s Yugoslavia, we were all equally valued, the difference between gender, nation, age was not emphasized… Now, at IT conferences I can also see a lot of the female world equally everyone involved in the discussions, no forcing, etc.
However, when we look at the employees in the cement and concrete industry, it is true, there are few women in general, and therefore IT, we all need to work together to somehow gain more women colleagues in the future.
As for working with colleagues in general, it is an individual matter. Efficiency is achieved by agreement and division of labor, either at home or in a plant, and not by seducing a dictatorship.
I would like to mention that I am also in the minority at home, not only as a wife but also as a mother of two grown sons, so mutual understanding and respect is of great importance. If an omission occurs, it is enough to explain the situation and never criticize individually – directly. We should try to stay calm even in stressful situations, right?
Does it seem to you that the ratio of men and women in the IT industry has been changing proportionally lately? Do girls more often opt for “traditionally male” occupations such as IT?
I think that “traditionally male” occupations are already dying out, we can see more and more women as tram drivers in Belgrade, we also have women miners, civil engineers, what would not be IT engineers?
I am glad that our company – Cement plant Moravacem, recognized and supported this action as one of the important ideas to encourage young people for further training, education and inclusion in the IT world. Now that people are mostly opting to work remotely (from home), when we have replaced car offices or a study room, IT specialists are increasingly needed to manage processes and be at your service 24/7. Girls and boys can be equally good IT specialists, but to work in IT you need to have the desire and will for continuous learning, you should constantly look for better and more efficient application models in order to save your own and other people’s time. That’s why girls, welcome to the IT industry.
The terms diversity and inclusion have often been heard in multinational companies lately. What do these terms mean to you? How do you define them?
Diversity should mean the diversity of all of us employees in terms of proposing business initiatives, implementing certain activities, team leadership skills, presenting creative and innovative strategic plans. And inclusion I think represents the approval and acceptance of these diversity. Acceptance of different opinions and even different colleagues in a multinational company such as CRH is achieved through honest communication and work on mutual understanding and trust.
What is it like to be a woman in the cement industry? Do you think that women’s opinions are heard as strongly as men’s?
As I said at the beginning, it is not very easy to be a woman in a heavy industry, such as the cement and RMX industry, but it is also beautiful, because we achieve better results every year. I would add that my opinion in IT is equally valuable and respected both in Serbia and beyond in the corporation, although I was often the only woman on almost all projects and in all teams. There has never been any forcing by colleagues when making strategic decisions of great importance for the future.
How can women encourage each other in the fight for equal rights and opportunities at work?
For all young colleagues, I would just like to advise them to have their strong position and their opinion in order to contribute to the progress of the entire business world in terms of openness, communication and support for diversity.
We should all know that the term “men’s and women’s jobs” has always been a taboo topic, together we should try to value the division of labor at home, because otherwise we fail to give the maximum at work or at home. Time management is an equal problem for all of us – we are constantly taking time away from our family for work and vice versa. By agreement and equal rights and obligations, it is easier for us to achieve success and greater results.
What would you say to young girls who have yet to enroll in college and start building their careers?
Because we are working more and more on the equality of rights and obligations of women and men in society, I am really optimistic, and I think that the term “male and female jobs” will be quickly overcome and there is no fear that girls enroll in mining, construction, electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, IT … I am glad if our company can achieve significant changes with this project and this idea and encourage young people to become successful engineers with potential opportunities and employment with us. You never know!