The business world is predominantly a man’s world and I believe it will stay that way, but that doesn’t mean that women can’t find their way in it or that they aren’t successful.
It is a great challenge to achieve balance when you have family on one side and on the other side you’re simultaneously building two successful careers and only with a great deal of mutual understanding and support can you be successful in this, says Nives Šeremet, Managing Director at Essilor Adria.
- “A woman in business”, how “exotic” is this still in 2021, how much has this become an everyday thing?
Given the growing number of successful companies run by equally successful women, I believe that women in business are becoming less of an exotic event and more an everyday thing. I must admit that in my current company, until a few years ago, I was more the exception than the rule, but today I can proudly say that significant progress can be seen when it comes to fostering diversity and equality and more and more women are in leadership positions.
- You are at the head of Essilor Company in three countries – Croatia, Slovenia and Serbia. How great is the difference between doing business in the mentioned countries and what are the challenges that you are faced with?
There is a certain difference in the mentality of people, but you learn over time how to utilize these differences in the best way and achieve the best result based on this. Non-stop communication and checking the “pulse” are extremely important in order to dose the management, the support and even a certain level of control in preferable but never excessive amounts. In such regional organization, the greatest challenge by far is being physically present in different locations in a very short time, which is even more complex in current conditions. However, since I cooperate with hard working and professional colleagues, through good division of tasks and responsibilities we managed to achieve a good balance and good regional coverage.
- Did you feel that someone looked at you differently as a woman in a leading position, and how?
We cannot escape the fact that a woman is viewed in a slightly different way than a man, in everything, including business. It seems to me that the business environment is still a bit more critical of women, starting from the visual impression all the way to the achieved results, so a woman still has to work a little harder. But when you believe in yourself and invest in your professional development, the effort will surely pay off in the end and business success will not be missed.
- How much the business world is a man’s world?
The business world is predominantly a man’s world and I believe it will stay that way, but that doesn’t mean that women can’t find their way in it or that they aren’t successful. Women are an integral and irreplaceable part of this world whether in leading positions or as part of the team, or in a secondary role as an extremely important support to her partner.
- There are far less women at the head of companies compared to their male colleagues, around 5%. What do you think is the reason for that and how can this number change in favor of women?
I would not be able to talk about my successful career today if I did not have the support of my husband and parents, who allowed me to do the job I love.
It is a great challenge to achieve balance when on the one hand you have a family and on the other hand you are simultaneously building two successful careers and only with a lot of mutual understanding and support can you succeed in that.
And it is very important for women to achieve that balance and that is why when one of the mentioned links is missing, it is the woman who will usually give up, accept a less demanding job and sacrifice a career for the benefit of her family.
- What would you single out as advantage of having a woman at the head of a company, and when should a man do this job?
I definitely wouldn’t divide companies into “male” and “female” types because I honestly believe that a woman can be as equally successful as a man if given the opportunity and the support. All the more so since the success of a company depends not only on one person who manages it, but also on the team of people around that person with whom they cooperate. Of course, the leader makes the key decisions, but exchanging opinions and complementing each other are crucial to achieving successful results.
- Does female solidarity exist in the business world or should everything be observed professionally and individually?
At work, I divide people into professionals and non-professionals, and not according to gender, age or skin color. I will always be happy to support a good idea, diligence and dedication whether it is a female or male collaborator. So women’s solidarity – yes, but only when it is deserved.