Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
By: Ekrem Dupanović
Anđela Buljan-Šiber has been working for McCann Zagreb for years, most of which as the director of strategic planning and new jobs.
Eleven years ago, she founded her own agency Izone, which was built on the idea of a small, flexible agency that can track the fast and unpredictable development of the digital market. There were no such agencies at the time.
Daily agency tasks took her away from science, which was always Anđela’s great inspiration. She’s a professor of psychology, master of social sciences (Consumer Behaviour), and pre-doc of Organizational Behaviour at University of New York.
She was assistant professor of social psychology at ZSEM, and of psychology in marketing at Croatian Studies. She lectured at numerous conferences, symposiums and seminars. She volunteered at UNICEF and the association for psychological counseling in crisis situations.
She’s very active in the Croatian Association of Market Communications Agencies HURA. Days of Communication, as the central HURA event, are unthinkable without Anđela, her positive energy and drive.
Just over a year ago, I received an email from Anđela, same as everyone else who works with her, which said she was going for a one-year vacation and that communicating with the Izone agency will be taken over by her associates. She simply won’t be there!
E.D.: What happened last year?
Anđela Buljan-Šiber: I did not work for the whole 2018. Me – someone who always works, who practically never took a maternity leave. No one could imagine that I won’t work. I took a year-long vacation from my own company. I took a study year.
Perhaps I was ready to do it because money doesn’t mean much for me. Maybe I could afford it because I was ready to lose a lot. This is not my first, and I hope not the last “crazy” decision, because each one was the best one ever. Just like this one.
E.D.: How did it even come to this “crazy” decision?
Anđela Buljan-Šiber: I love science, that’s my hobby. As someone plays drums for example, or plays tennis, or makes jewelry … so I like to study organizational behaviour – primarily managerial cognition. This is a time-consuming hobby. You can’t practice it twice a week for two hours, and, of course, I haven’t had time for it for many years (first one small child, then another, and you don’t want to neglect the family, then starting of one company, then the second one…).
I realized this bothered me, because it’s common knowledge that you find time for what you like. As I like to be honest with everyone, including myself (I’m well known for the motto “call things by their real name”), I wanted to see whether I really love to work more than some other things, and therefore don’t have time for them, or am I just dragged into that “I MUST” system, while convincing myself I’m not.
E.D.: And, what happened?
Anđela Buljan-Šiber: Basically, I decided to “kill” the I MUST system in my head, so I Ieft the Izone agency to my team. I trusted them, but not all of them trusted in themselves. It wasn’t easy for anyone. All this sounds like a fairy tale on Facebook, but behind it there was a big, uncomfortable zone – both for me and them.
Some of the people dear to me left over my decision. I was prepared even for that. When you make such a decision, you must be ready for anything, even that all might fall apart. I’m very happy that everything turned out just as I believed it would. This team can conquer the world if they decide so. With, or without me.
The students have surpassed the teacher, only they weren’t aware of it. And no one else was aware of this either. Now it is unquestionable.
And perhaps that’s what brings me the most joy. We set up a great team, and set the right values that do not depend on the individual but on the collective, and it is far harder to rock a collective than an individual. I think our greatest strength is the corporate culture based on the abilities of individuals and humanity – it’s a killer combo.
E.D.: What did the return after a whole year look like?
Anđela Buljan-Šiber: When I returned we joked how I felt as if I returned to a completely new company, only now everything worked as it should, and there were new contracts, everyone was more matured by at least ten years.
I left a team that often asked me for advice, and today the only questions they ask is whether I’m OK and do I need any help.
They even found time to rebrand the company. I left a company that was turquoise, and returned to some pink shaded company. You can check the new look of Izone on our Facebook. We wanted to do it for a long time, but we never had time for ourselves.
In virtually the most difficult year (after all, they were one important company player short), they even tackled that. That speaks volumes about them.
E.D.: You’ve been to Geneva recently, for the Digital Design Day. Anything interesting to see and learn there?
Anđela Buljan Šiber: Honestly, nothing we don’t already know – that technology is changing our industry and that we need to know AI because it will be an ally, not a replacement. But that’s a story that will have it’s own timeline.
I believe that AI will replace a lot, but only the average, while talent, creativity, quality and wits will always have their place and price. It’s no different from the Industrial Revolution.
And what I have actually learned, for the hundredth time, is that our Days of Communication are the universe for many global conferences. We were there primarily to see the conference organization. I realized we here often underestimate ourselves, and believe everything is better somewhere else. Well it’s not!
E.D.: Future plans? Science or advertising? Or both?
Anđela Buljan Šiber: I will deal with science more intensively, because it brings me joy and fulfils me. I’m involved in a major scientific project at the Department of Psychology at the Faculty of Philosophy in Zagreb, which will last four to five years, and that is what professionally interests me the most right now, and later… who knows.
In 2019, I should decide whether to continue with my doctorate, or rather to assess how much joy the program brings me and see if it justifies allocation of serious time for it.
E.D.: How much time will be left for advertising?
Anđela Buljan Šiber: It became crystal clear that I love advertising. It’s not an accident that I am where I am, and I will continue to be here. Working for the benefit of the industry. As long as it makes me happy.
I won’t be working as much as before at the company, because they don’t need me that much, and we’ll see how much the industry needs me. That’s something I still don’t know.
Days of Communication are a project I really believe in, and for that I will always find time as long as the project is as good as it is today. We are a small market and companies cannot afford to go to foreign festivals, and if you don’t educate yourself, you simply regress.
Our mission is to bring superior education to an accessible level for all market actors, so that we can keep up with the world.