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Q&A with Ivana Nikolik

Updated: Jan 9

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Ivana Nikolik, Europe 40Under40 TOP Leader, Forbes Councils Member, BD Executive, Women in Tech/AI Ambassador & Mentor.



How could you describe your career path in few words? 


While others perceived me with admiration as a trailblazing female leader who has earned her place among the 40Under40 TOP Business Leaders in Europe while holding the prestigious title of an official Member of Forbes Business Council, personally, I have never had such a feeling that I am doing an extraordinary things, actually, everything I’ve accomplished to this day has been manifested out of an incandescent inner ambition and desire to lead which existed in me since my early childhood. My dream job was never a specific one, rather always connected with a wish to have a profession that will be dynamic and international on one side and that will give me an opportunity to constantly evolve and grow on the other. In that sense, the entirety of my career trajectory can be encompassed in two simple words: diverse and dynamic. That’s how I landed into Tech world, with excitement and trepidation, in an industry which is a major driver of economic growth and one of the most fast-paced industries in the world, so I am truly grateful that I am living my dream. 


Climbing the standard ladder, starting from the lowest positions, and moving up by accepting bigger responsibilities and taking higher positions, I’ve always appreciated and valued the opportunities to be in leadership roles- from a small team when I was Chief of Cabinet for Foreign Direct Investments and State Counsellor in the Government, to being given the responsibility of leading hundreds of people as CEO and Supervisory Board Member, up to being President of Management Board as to close the first 10 years of my career journey.  


My diverse and international educational background of Business and IT was an absolute advantage to pursue a new chapter in my career and enter the Tech world. Although, my journey is more than just a list of accolades, it is a narrative of dedication, perseverance, and persistence while continuing at my current role as an International Business Development Executive at IWConnect. Steering the ship towards new horizons, I am leading company's growth strategy, primarily in the EMEA region by leveraging internal tech knowledge and IT expertise to address clients' needs and maximize customer experience, while sharing insights on digital and business transformation with a mission to drive innovation in the ever-evolving landscape of technology. 


Apart from my official role as BD Executive, I am an active member of Women in Tech and Women in AI and as such, I am trying to continuously contribute towards our mission of empowering, mentoring, and inspiring young females who are venturing into the dynamic world of technology. 


Finally, my career story is one of continuous growth, fueled with passion, energetic leadership, and a commitment to bring value and make a lasting impact on the world of business and tech. 



What was your most challenging experience throughout your career? 


It’s almost impossible to pinpoint one most challenging experience since there were many throughout my 16 years career journey. Undoubtedly, there have been pervasive challenges on the way, and unfortunately, some of those obstacles can be still witnessed today, especially when it comes to lack of transparency in leadership, gender bias or stereotypes prejudice based on gender, and last but foremost, gender inequality in general.  


Despite these facts, I have always perceived and converted the challenges into motivation, which I truly believe is one of the crucial factors for running my successful career by overcoming adversity. This has been my accelerator and a driving force, as a person who is an overachiever not only professionally, but as well as in my personal daily life. The question is whether we are accepting and converting those challenges into successful stories, or we are perceiving them as an obstacle and trying to avoid or simply cancel them. In my case, there is only a play and fast-forward button, so I constantly welcome and grab the challenge by trusting in myself, with honest and truthful approach bringing pragmatic and confident message to the team and trying to make positive impact on a broader scale. As Vala Afshar and Henry King said in their bestseller Boundless book: “As I look back in my life, I realize that every time I thought I was being rejected from something good, I was actually being re-directed to something better.” 


Another significant challenge which is crossing throughout my whole professional career is the importance of having a healthy work-life balance. It is critical to cultivate a healthy and productive workplace steeped in positivity and for me, there is an undeniable bond between athletic and business success. I’ve always had a passion for sports, traveling, photography and music, and so far, I’ve won a number of medals and accomplishments in sports and photography. Healthy work-life balance is essential for maintaining physical and mental well-being, fostering quality relationships, enhancing overall productivity, and ensuring long-term success in both personal and professional realms. 

 


Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader / executive? 


Success is not necessarily a destination but a journey that helps us develop the skills and resources we need to thrive. For me, it is of paramount importance to set powerful goals, to give my brain a place to aim and when I achieve those goals, to always reach a little higher. Perseverance is crucial, to never quit, never give up! 


Inversely, success in leadership is multifaceted, and there isn't a -one size fits all- formula for everyone. From my point of view, the key success factors are a compound of authenticity, confidence, and strategic thinking. First and foremost, authentic and genuine female leaders easily build trust within teammates and stakeholders. It’s essential to have courage to live a life true to oneself while maintaining integrity in leadership. The female leaders with a capacity to think strategically while aligning the actions with a clear strategy are way better positioned for a long-term success. 


Last but not least, confidence is a crucial factor for overall success in leadership, and more importantly self-confidence. Every female leader should step up to challenges and take the lead, to own the unique value they bring and not to wait for others to see them as a leader before they start acting like one. 

 



More about Ivana on Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/i-nikolik/  

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