NAME: Sonja Šmuc
BACKGROUND: University education, degree in economy
ACTION/SECTOR: Volunteer and non-government sector
ORGANISATION:THE MANAGERS' ASSOCIATION OF SLOVENIA
My Background and Career
I lead The Managers' Association of Slovenia as an Executive Director for the third term. In my work inspires me the ability to influence the development of Slovenian management and competitiveness of the economy. Topics that I recently dedicate to are business ethics, women's management and regional integration.
I am a member of various bodies, such as the accreditation commission DUTB, Advisory Committee on Equal Opportunities for Men and Women at the European Commission, the Council for Gender Equality of the Republic of Slovenia, and the selection committees of economic prizes: Manager of the Year, Gazelle, Golden Thread, Female managers friendly enterprise, marketing manager, human resource manager, etc.
I am proud of acknowledgment of the Chamber of Commerce Slovenia Ljubljana for innovation Entrepreneurs in the company and contribution to the Hands-on conference, which was declared non-technological innovation on the 9th Festival of innovation in Ljubljana in 2014. I am a co-author of the book The export risks under control and the author of over 600 commercial papers.
Before taking over the management of The Managers' Association, I worked in publishing as an editor of the prominent business magazines for ten years.
I studied at the Faculty of Economics and some short time also abroad, among others at the University of California at Stanford, Wirtschaftsuniversität of Vienna and at the IEDC – Bled School of Management.
It is difficult to talk about the barriers on my career path, as for women with career there are two possible conflicting interpretations of their success. A, woman can never know how much more she could have been successful if she had not been a woman. B, it might have been precisely because of lacking women in management positions, doors open up a bit more. The fact is that at the beginning of your career you have to prove your intelligence, diligence, courage and integrity. When the right people appreciate you, more demanding and exciting opportunities are opening, through which you gain experience and knowledge. I often recall a minding: In order to succeed, you need other people to want you to succeed. The success of each individual is inextricably intertwined with many other people with whom you are in contact - mentors, colleagues, bosses, partners, and friends.
For women who want to have both worlds, the family support is extremely important. If partner encourages her, success is much more sensible and takes less sacrifice. Mothers balance the professional demands and the family expectations harder. A modern man, who had shaken off syndrome of the "absolutist head of the family", is an important pillar of a more relaxed partnership in which both partners can equally develop their career paths. I appreciate this deeply in my husband. When both partners have a career, you need extra help in caring for children - in our case, grandparents play an invaluable role.
My driving features are curiosity, diligence and energy. I am interested in new things. I like to focus on the content, so I do a lot of thinking. I was lucky that I could begin my career in the media world, where these traits were wanted. I learned a lot, met many people and refined the technique, how to make myself more understandable. I developed the responsibility that comes with the privilege to express my own opinions. All these features have become part of me.
In new employees, I am most interested in their courage, flexibility and intelligence. People who have it will become an important part of the team and they will enjoy their job. If you do not have these qualities, even a good leader cannot implant them. In our team we are few, but we leave the impression that we are ten times more.
One of the simplest definitions of a manager that I have heard recently is that their task is to create work and money. This definition is close to me - though both are the result of the entire team, it is the leader who bears the responsibility that the team does the job right, effectively and ethically, for customers who appreciate it and pay. Nothing helps if you are working a lot, but still there is no money for salaries, payment of liabilities, and the development of new ideas. There are a number of different leadership styles, but in the end, the manager's certificate is what we captured in the slogan of the Managers' Association: The right results in the right way.
Hints & Tips
Just keep forward bravely. The best opportunities are those that are initially scary - because you doubt that you can handle it. However, precisely in such situations we grow and refine our skills. Women are more cautious, often exaggeratedly sound, and often too self-critical. It is good to be aware of this and do not allow ourselves for out doubts to keep us in the comfort zone. Once you accept the risk, make an analysis: What is the worst thing that can happen? Can I live with this? Mostly we will find out that the worst result is not so terrible, and what is even better: a rare, but really rare, worst-case scenarios come true. It is much more likely that the best-case scenario will come true if you work hard and smart. Therefore, only keep forward bravely