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#EachforEqual: Celebrating Women at CROZ

06. 03. 2020

To acknowledge International Women’s Day celebrating the wonderful achievements of women around the world, we reached out to a few of the amazing women contributing everyday to CROZ’s success as regionally and internationally recognized IT consultancy with the best-in-class tech and methodologies expertise. 

The tech world has been notoriously dominated by men over the years, but there is a growing number of women who are changing the trend. At CROZ, we are more than happy to be included in this movement – as a matter of fact, our Head of Sales, Vedrana Miholic, never misses the chance to publicly champion inclusivity in the tech industry. In 2019, a quarter of CROZ team were women and we are always working on including more of them across all departments and positions.

With this year’s Women’s Day theme being #EachforEqual, meaning each of us can help create a more equal world, we’ve asked women at CROZ how they got to where they are today and what does Each for Equal mean for them.

Vedrana Miholić, Head of Sales

How did you get to where you are today?
I was born under a lucky star as my mother was one of the first female programmers in Croatia. My father, my aunt and my sisters were all engineers so I had role models around me to look up to.
Although I got my degree in math, IT seemed like the only logical career path for me.
I keep saying that I have been doing the same job for the last 20 years – solving problems. I used to use programming language, sometimes I use Croatian language, sometimes I use English. But that’s what I do – I solve problems.

What does #EachforEqual mean to you?

What each of us can do is to open the wonderful gates of technology to younger generations. Be it by encouraging kids – all of them – to start learning coding, as we do with our Code Club and Programerko initiatives, or by not giving in to impostor syndrome and  refusing to speak in public or at events about our experiences.

It’s a well known fact women suffer from impostor syndrome and are reluctant to speak in public. If each time I would decide to do it, I managed to inspire or encourage even one of them – I will sleep better at night.

On my problem solving journey I am accompanied by many people. These people are men. These people are women. These people are my bosses. These people are my colleagues. These people are my family. People who give me opportunities, who believe in me, who make me believe I am capable of using those opportunities. The journey does not make sense without them.
I want to be that ‘people’ to others. I have to. 

Ivana Cepetić, Business Analyst

Ivana CepetićHow did you get to where you are today?
I have always had the support of my family in everything I did. To fully understand that statement, one would have to know that I was raised in a very patriarchal family, among brothers, with chores strictly set to being “male” or “female”. My dear grandmother used to wake me up in the morning with “Sweetheart…get up and make your brother a breakfast!”. Of course I didn’t, and of course he didn’t expect me to. But you might get the feeling about the environment I grew up in.

 Yet, in spite of all those “routines”, or just because of it, I never felt less worthy and was very determined to follow my own path, whatever it would be. And it was IT, after I got my degree in mathematics. Later on, those basic principles I got from home – “work hard”, “you can do whatever you set your mind to” – have helped me to do my job the best I could. And here I am 22 years later – a programmer, system analyst, business analyst, project manager, LOB manager and now again being my true self – business analyst. In CROZ. Getting free breakfast every Thursday. Life IS good. 

What does #EachForEqual mean to you?
For me, it is living gender equality and encouraging it in every domain of my everyday life. Although I was really lucky never to feel discriminated against for being a woman (apart from those brother-breakfast incidents), I find it very important to raise awareness that equality is the “default” state. And that’s how I raised both my daughter and my son.

My world is quite small but I feel lucky and grateful to have many young people in it…Raising them, talking to them, working with them…I hope I will somehow encourage them to feel free to be what they want and to feel equal, all the time. As a default.

Martina Zelenika, IT Project Manager

Martina ZelenikaHow did you get where you are today?

Coming from a family that never acted like I can do any less because I’m a woman, I guess helped set a good foundation in forming of an ‘I can do anything I set my mind to’ attitude from an early age and resulted in going through my teenage days completely unaware and unburdened by the fact that this is a “man’s world”.

Looking back, now a little bit older and slightly wiser, I find that this was a key component that helped me reach where I proudly stand today.

So, to make a long story short, I graduated from Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing and I work at CROZ for 3 years now. I feel blessed to be able to say it was a great and exciting journey so far.

What does #EachForEqual mean to you?

I believe that the world sees us the way we see ourselves.

So, we should start with diving deep and changing our own perception of who we are, what is our worth and start realising what we are capable of.

If we start believing in ourselves – others will start believing too. If we truly start seeing ourselves as equal – the world will follow soon enough.

Andreja Ravlić, PMO, Quality, Processes and Project Manager, Marathon Runner

How did you get where you are today?

Although I’ve worked in various industries, I have always been interested in processes and optimization. I was lead by questions such as: Why? Can it be done better? In a different way? Easier way? That makes more sense? both in life and in work.

I have learned a lot from people I have met on my way, my mentors, role models, people who supported me and motivated me to do better. Most of them women, but some brave men too.
I have to admit I was not always brave enough to embrace new tasks but I was lucky enough to have close people who believed in me, recognized my potential and gave me chances. Which is something I am very thankful for. And I am really proud to be a part of CROZ today.

What does #EachForEqual mean to you?

Human rights activist Rosa Parks said: To bring about change you must not be afraid to take the first step. We will fail when we fail to try. I find my inspiration in her words.

Don’t be afraid to try. Dare to try. Failure is allowed. You can learn something and try again. But always ask the question: Why?

I was always willing to work hard, give my best, to learn whenever I can. But I was never really brave and it’s only because of people who believed me and pushed me that I have learned to embrace challenges, learned to be brave. Most of them were women.
That is exactly what #EachForEqual means for me: each of us being there, pushing, giving chances and believing in other women.

I am raising two boys and I am giving my best to teach them to be fearless and that girls are fearless too. And to be the living example of that. When I hear them say ‘Mom, you can do anything, you are never afraid!’, I know my mission is on track.

Jelena Lončarević, Data Engineer

How did you get where you are today?
By never giving up and having the support of my family. They have thought me one can achieve anything by working hard. There are also a lot of engineers and programmers in my family so I’ve had role models to inspire me.
My favorite subjects in schools were math and logic based. That’s why I choose Faculty of Engineering and Computing and a career in IT. More precisely in Data Engineering, because it combines creativity and constant problem solving.

What does #EachForEqual mean to you?
For me #EachforEqual means that each of us can contribute to equality by accepting and being kind to others, no matter the gender or other physical characteristics. In the IT world specifically that means motivating young people to consider career in IT and helping them when they intern at CROZ. I was also fortunate to have had amazing colleague who supported me and thought me a lot when I was an intern.

Vali Žagar, Data Engineer

How did you get where you are today?

Always fascinated by technology and Science Fiction, I have admired my IT teacher since kindergarten. He knew everything about computers, wow!
In elementary school I’ve decided I also have to know everything about computers and want to be able to answer other people’s questions about them. In high school I enjoyed learning physics and math and coding was love at first sight – solving problems and automating it, yes please!
The next step was the Faculty of Engineering and Computing. In my final year I’ve got the chance to spend the summer interning at CROZ. It was the perfect summer, I gained a lot of knowledge, a lot of new experiences, amazing people and CROZ it was!

Circling back to answering other people’s questions on computers – it is what I do today by preparing and visualising data which enables our clients to make right business decision fast and based on relevant information extracted from vast amounts of data. So you can say my dream has come true!

What does #EachForEqual mean to you?
It’s important to have the right attitude- I can do it and I want to do it no matter who I am. My gender is not obvious from my name and quite often in acknowledgments and credit documents it would be spelled as it was male. But in that case, I am asking the question: What’s more important, misunderstood gender or achievement? Answer it yourself!

Laura Torić, Full Stack Developer

How did you get where you are today?

When I was a kid, I loved playing video games on my brother’s PlayStation.

For my Communion I got my first PC so I could play The Sims on it.

Ever since, I’ve been fascinated by technology and everything it brings. Combine that with Maths, which was my favourite subject in school, and the only logical choice for me was to apply for Faculty of Electrical Engineering and Computing.

At the end of my second year I got tired of “just studying” and wanted to see how it was like working in IT. Two years later (and Erasmus in between), and here we are.

What does #EachForEqual mean to you?

I’m not a feminist. Let me explain. I think I live in a society where men and women have equal opportunity, and I think “fighting for equality” only has a negative impact. Let me explain.

I’m not saying the world was always like that.

I’m not even saying it is like that today (everywhere).I can only say I’ve never really experienced gender inequality in my own shoes, and I can’t relate to this idea.

And I applaud all people that made it possible for me to think this way. #girlsRock #boysAlsoRock #peopleAreAwesome

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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