Drugi jezik na kojem je dostupan ovaj članak: Bosnian
Tijana Škorić Tomić is the Executive Director of I&F McCann Group. This top professional believes that both women and men carry their individual stamp of originality and creativity. Of course, Tijana adds, they also carry the burden of their ambitions, which are more pronounced in women.
She continues: “It is not easy to mix business success with motherhood. I’d say that women have a more difficult path in finding their own originality and the ways to express it in an ambience that does not really encourage them to take such a step – particularly in business, because throughout the world companies recognize women who best mimic men. I don’t believe that it has anything to do with a particular region, but with the degree of development of society as a whole. This profession has gone one step further in development and flexibility, and has opened the path for women to more easily express their creativity and leadership and, of course, to realize all their ambitions. At the company where I work, management positions are mostly taken by women, not because they are women, but because they are simply better.”
This seems to be one of the few situations where the traditionally patriarchal Balkans and the developed world have switched places, so the advertising industry in the region, in contrast to the developed world, is full of capable women in important positions. Here is what Tijana has to say about that: “I don’t think that the Balkans are so patriarchal. It’s more about perceptions and the cultural element in the means of communication rather than the essence itself. This profession is relatively young in our region, which has given it the flexibility of competition, and I believe that therein lies the explanation as to why there are more women here in management positions than is generally the case in the world.”
This leads us to ask Tijana: Where have all the men gone? Did something happen to them? Are they getting tired, scared and have therefore retreated, or have we got a new generation of educated, unstoppable women who do not care about patriarchal constraints. “Men are here,” says Tijana, “a significant number of men are in leadership positions in our line of work and they are great at what they do. There is no struggle here, there is room for all, and it makes us all better on the road to the success of the companies we work in.”
Many of our interviewees have expressed skepticism when we asked whether a business miracle is possible in Europe, where the Balkans would become a paradise for female entrepreneurship. They identified that the question itself is wrong. Tijana, however, doesn’t agree with them: “Good question. I understand paradise as an economic business environment in which any form of entrepreneurship is stimulated. There are economic mechanisms for this and it has nothing to do with gender. All of us have an effect, albeit limited, on this environment. In addition to the incentives that are necessary to create such an environment, I believe personal initiative, higher education, and most of all courage for both the successes and the failures are also necessary. I think a miracle in Europe is possible, and that the Balkans can become a paradise for every enterprise, including those that are female led. The key to it is work, work and more work.” But work is not always enough. We also asked Tijana about the structure and organization of the workplace: What characterizes companies managed by women? Is the atmosphere there more democratic, is there more innovative work, and is there less mobbing?
“In any business it is essential that professional and collegial relations are based on respect among coworkers. Clearly defined work responsibilities, a clearly established system of decision-making and respect for employees as part of the corporate culture, these are the basis for healthy relationships in companies. Thus it is possible to have an efficient and motivated team, regardless of whether a man or a woman is on top, or the first among equals.” Anticipating the answer, we asked what the foundations of Tijana’s success are: “Knowledge and the team.” And what is necessary for success in today’s world – as the zeitgeist is changing radically, and today it is probably something completely different compared to ten or even five years ago. Tijana said this: “Persistence, flexibility and the courage to see beyond the present moment even under conditions that are dramatically changing; the future, not only survival.”
The ability to stimulate the right people in the right way also probably plays an important part in the success of a company. “In addition to cash bonuses and the like, standard mechanisms for the recognition of quality performance, you also need to know your key associates. This includes fully open communication. The ambition that everyone in key positions has implies that you participate in the professional development of these people and that together with them you work towards the development of their future career. You must have a plan for their career path. It’s only natural, and only in that way can any company go forward, and thus the staff remain motivated. Furthermore, this mechanism contributes to healthy selection.”
And what about information and communication technologies? The number of women in this area is not proportionate to their extraordinary abilities, but Tijana believes that essential, significant breakthroughs are taking place in that field as well. “You already have very successful women in leading positions in some companies. Google, Facebook, Yahoo are just some of them. I believe that in every field and profession there are great women.” Can regressive trends – systemic demeaning of women, such as the attempts by the prime minister of Turkey – stop this process? “The issue of equality is a question of law. History has already answered that question. Of course we’re not biologically equal, but this does not mean that we have to be unequal or that our starting positions can’t be the same. As for the defense of interests and positions of power, it is natural for everybody to defend their position, whether they are a woman or a man. Of course, the key question is how these interests are exercised and how power is used. Some form of struggle is necessary and healthy, some call it competition. On the other hand, maybe the answer is not fully addressed, but fortunately I’ve never worked with men, or women, who defend their interests and positions of power in an inappropriate manner.”
The advertising industry requires imagination, creativity, relaxation, democratic thinking. We assume these are more female than male qualities. “It is true that the industry is looking for some of these qualities. But it is also true that men can also be imaginative and democratic. These are personal qualities, and can be part of the character of any individual.”
Who in Tijana’s opinion are the most inspiring women of today? “Perhaps Katie Stanton, VP of Global Media at Twitter, and definitely Marissa Ann Mayer who is president and CEO of Yahoo. They are proof that women can achieve great success in their career, while remaining women.” And on the home turf? “I’m happy that there are plenty in my environment. Each has something of her own, which makes her different and special. Maybe I would single out my sister Ivana, who has also managed to create the perfect formula for being a great lawyer, while still being the best sister in the world, better than me.”
Every successful woman at least once in her career stumbles upon an ambitious man “who hates women.” “If I were to meet such a man, he would have to be the one to try to find a way to deal with me.”
From talking about the status of women in society and the advertising industry, we moved on to the topic of I&F McCann Group, to which Tijana is completely dedicated. This part of the conversation, for the sake of authenticity, we will deliver in the form of a classic interview.
MEDIA MARKETING: To be an executive director of I&F McCann Group is certainly not an easy job. There are a lot of agencies in the group, and everything needs to be communicated, coordinated…
TIJANA ŠKORIĆ TOMIĆ: I deal with the design and implementation of the development strategy of the Group. I manage investments, judge the work of the agency directors, and make decisions in my areas of responsibility. I’m trying to make work processes more efficient – easier on the one hand, and to establish controls in the highest risk areas for the business.
MEDIA MARKETING: By the nature of your job you are the right hand of Srđan Šaper, Group President. What is Srđan like as a boss?
TIJANA ŠKORIĆ TOMIĆ: It’s a bit pretentious to write about your boss when you know that he will read it. Srđan is a man of inexhaustible energy and long-term vision. He thinks faster than others and sees further than most. He’s very demanding, but fair. It’s certainly a professional challenge to keep up with such a man, but also great luck to have the opportunity to learn from him. In addition to being my boss, Srđan is also my friend, as well as my mentor in my professional growth so far.
MEDIA MARKETING: From your observation post as executive director of the Group you have an excellent insight into all the agencies in the network. Which has the best market, and which needs the most help from the network in order to make a breakthrough in the market?
TIJANA ŠKORIĆ TOMIĆ: The development of each market is defined by the amount of investment clients are willing to make in marketing. The level of development of human resources, as well as professional experience, depends on their investment and the kind of work that clients demand. Each of our agencies, in every market, requires assistance and a support network. Each market is specific, but also in a stage of development through which other markets have already passed. Expertise, creativity, and knowledge transfer are always available in our network on the one hand, and on the other these are also the responsibility of each agency director in all the markets in which we operate. We have to continuously develop and improve, that way we all go forward together.
MEDIA MARKETING: Do you have new acquisitions planned? Will the I&F McCann Group expand throughout the Balkans?
TIJANA ŠKORIĆ TOMIĆ: We do. The strategy of the Group is growth through acquisition. I honestly hope that we will go even beyond Balkans.
MEDIA MARKETING: How much are you connected with McCann London and NY in your work? How much do you consult with them and how much do they control some of your operations?
TIJANA ŠKORIĆ TOMIĆ: My job involves communication with London and NY. I consult with them on all topics where I believe they have gone further with an idea or in the organization of business processes. We also have a commitment to conduct business in adherence with all the standards to which we are bound by the affiliation contract, which we have proudly held to for almost 20 years now. They have the right to control service to customers, but otherwise they have nothing to do with our Group, nor the right to manage it.
MEDIA MARKETING: On several occasions in your media statements you have said that this profession must get organized in Serbia in order to introduce the standards and rules applied in the rest of the world, and that only in this way will it be recognized as a serious partner in the Serbian economy. Do you believe that Serbia needs a new, powerful association for the advertising industry?
TIJANA ŠKORIĆ TOMIĆ: The world economic crisis has resulted in the whole of Europe turning to austerity and cost reductions, and too little is being invested in growth and development. Consequently, this has been reflected in marketing investment. If the selection of an agency is reduced solely to the cost factor, which is usually the case now, at some point the issue of quality will arise. Frankly I think it is a step backwards. The job of procurement departments is to choose the most favorable offer in terms of price. I do not think however that it’s up to them to evaluate quality, strategy and all the other criteria, which are more important than the price component of the tender. Marketing itself, or rather marketing agencies, have business relevance, and through the duality of this and the quality of their service they can best serve their clients. This approach must be brought back. Both the existing and new associations of advertisers are needed. That we have and on that we can build. The question is what we want, and how to achieve it. Everything is much simpler than it seems. Each TV channel is considered good if it has quality programs, print editions are defined by the quality of content, digital by technology and innovation, and agencies by the intelligence and the quality of work.
MEDIA MARKETING: The problem of organization and the introduction of standards can be solved by advertising industry leaders at a single lunch. Do you think they should agree on the key principles so the process of organizing the profession can begin? Can the strongest players in the Serbian market sit down at the same table, and if they can, why don’t they sit down and reach an agreement, because it’s in everyone’s best interest?
TIJANA ŠKORIĆ TOMIĆ: Everyone can always sit at the table. As I said, the question is what we want to achieve, how and under what terms. I think the essential problem is that it is an impoverished industry where everyone is fighting for a better position in order to survive. Strategy then often becomes a secondary thing. We need a better economy in order to start bringing things into line more efficiently.