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Q&A with Kaltrina Ajeti

Updated: Jul 21, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Kaltrina Ajeti, Executive Director at Kosovo Institute of Media and Communication

How could you describe your career path in few words?

Not an easy one. In a society where social roles are assigned and divided, a young woman eager to reach her best in her profession is something that is not that welcomed. I studied psychology to continue with a master's degree in journalism and media, a sector in which I have been working for 14 years. Keen-sighted that as a journalist I am not able to raise issues and play a crucial role in vital issues related to media sector/society, I decided to establish a non-governmental organization, known as a Kosovar Institute for Media and Communication (IKMK), through which during its existence, I have managed to successfully implement projects of high importance on the regional aspects (Western Balkans region). Projects related to freedom of expression, fake news and disinformation, women's issues and many other vital issues by which society is faced with. In parallel to that, I continued to contribute and be actively engaged on my primary profession as a psychologist, another field in which where Kosovar society is challenged on almost daily basis with a post-traumatic stress, as a society emerging from the war of 98-99, as well as other global issues that mankind is faced with, this includes wars, not to forget pandemics too.

What was your most challenging experience and it has changed your mindset?

 First time I was promoted was when I was only 26 years old and I was the only woman in management.  It has been the most difficult and most challenging experience I have been faced with in my career. Challenged with professional responsibilities, cultural and social concepts on questions on how far a woman's success should reach – these were my biggest professional and personal challenges. Being/working in such an environment, I have fought hard and worked double  to prove that ability, to properly deliver on required tasks and responsibility to manage projects in most successful manner (especially in environment as such) is the key criteria that should be looked at and not the age nor gender – and on the other hand I had to make sure/insisted not to benefit from positive discrimination and be promoted or be treated differently just because I am a woman. My engagements as a consultant/expert in various national, regional, and international projects have also been quite a challenge. With a big discrepancy of social culture but also work culture in general it has been a double challenge to understand and respect the cultures of many countries and citizens and to adapt my experience according to the culture of that country. As a citizen of the Western Balkans, I remember that the most challenging (positive) experience was with colleagues from Japan, who have shown me a completely different work culture from the one practiced in the Western Balkans, as well as Europe.

When you get surprised by unusual or uncertain context, what do you think?

That I can manage this too. During my professional journey, I have overcome great personal and professional challenges.  With the right will and persistence everything has a solution (every challenge/problem has a solution, what we need is the right behavior and approach to solve identified challenges/problems). I try to learn the right lesson from each challenge/problem and carefully address it/approach it, using the best resources and methods on managing the issue as well as eliminating it. From a social point of view, I always expect prejudice. Therefore, my advice is that the expectations should be in line with the environment/culture, this way you are not going to be demotivated through the path of your success. In leadership, everything is difficult, this becomes more difficult when you are a woman, even more so when you are a young woman in management. But this should not be demotivating, on the contrary, every woman should be proud and consider her path like a mission. If you are one of the few, of course the way you manage today's unusual or uncertain context will determine the future of many other women who will start the same journey.

Based on your experience, what’s the key success factor for a female leader / manager? Confidence and persistence. In every society, women's journey to the top of success is prejudiced – in some societies more and some less, but sadly enough it still exists. There is always a dilemma between the forms of management that a woman should implement/apply. We are always between professionalism, tolerance and aggressive insistence to the group (colleagues) who do not trust/believe in our skills, especially the manager skills just because we belong to a different gender. Therefore, self-confidence and initiative are two key factors that help not only to face various challenges, but also to manage team work and keep the team spirit high to the best possible extent, by doing so the results/outcome and decision-making process will have a positive impact/outcome. Another important factor is the support that we show towards other women, and this is something that we should continuously support – promoting the work of other women will make the women’s environment much stronger, and eventually this will push her/them forward in reaching the highest peak/top positions. The difficulties of your journey as a woman should be a guide for the journeys of other women. The empowerment of women in different important sectors of society is a guarantee for a brighter future for other women, and mankind. That's why I strongly continue to implement projects related to women empowerment in every sector – during the last six years of existence of my NGO. I also have continuously supported my students in the University of Pristina,  where I lecture and will continue doing so, and this support is due to their professional abilities, interpersonal skills, and both these factors, makes them a perfect coworker and partner in different major projects.

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