Joining us on this segment of Women In Marketing is Senior Marketing Consultant, Anita Erker from Serbia. The adoption of blockchain technology is increasing – Anita shares with us how blockchain and access to online education will benefit the society in the near future. Let’s learn more about her!
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, ANITA. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
Thanks for having me, dear team!
I was born and raised in Belgrade, Serbia. We were kids without gadgets, PCs, phones, even some elaborate toys. We found creative ways to entertain ourselves. And that’s what I remember growing up – wandering around, collecting, creating, playing; spending time in laughter and imagination. At the age of 6, I started competing professionally as a sports shooter – which lasted the next 15 years. Meanwhile, writing poems and drawing were (and still are) my passion.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
Always into music, art, staying out late, travelling, making friends around the world – but, at the same time, young parliament leader, NGO activist and writer for an ecology magazine. I was someone that always took time to design clothes and work on my style, making whatever I could to be a real ”representation” of the world I see/live, while taking part in every possible language, poem and sports competition.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
Stuffed zucchini/paprika with cheese, deep-fried – I can share, but just a bite, if you are a good friend of mine who never tried it, previously 🙂 Besides that, edamame and cream soup.
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Invest in people I believe need financial support for a bigger smile and better life. This would be possible through a Foundation I aim to launch one day even without the $10 million falling from the sky into my pocket.
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, ANASTASIA HAMEL SAYS THAT SHE CAN BREATHE FIRE!
The rifle. Air rifle 10m, inside, and 5.6-millimetre calibre on 50m, outside.
I was professionally focused on sports shooting almost until the end of my University days, and besides medals and representing my country – my biggest love is the art & mindset / zen of the shooting process.
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
I was keen on pursuing journalism, or anything related to writing, informing, storytelling. Once I experienced the complexity and wide-reaching influence of global brand communications (my first tenure was internal communications and culture officer at Coca-Cola Hellenic Group), I fell in love with the magnetic, powerful values of a brand.
And the whole process of creating, communicating, promoting those values, engaging with people on many different levels to feel those values. I saw a way to utilize my creativity and knowledge to promote and support some values that are important to me through the powerful instruments only available to big organisations/communities.
From that moment on – everything happened very quickly. Following my intuition and the urge to learn more and always try newer and better channels of communication led me through many industries, meeting many amazing people, organizing and leading many different marketing campaigns.
The main link that connects all the fields, industries and jobs I’ve worked in is the energy I’ve always placed in utilizing the channels available to me to bring something positive to the community, users. This approach is what still keeps me involved and enthusiastic.
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
Coffee with myself, in front of the screen, besides huge windows, reading news or reviews and preparing for the planned day.
THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I’m used to working remotely and under pressure, so I have to say I was lucky enough to continue my daily routine normally and put energy into supporting my team members, and friends and family. Of course, struggling with wasting time (waiting in lines in front of shops, which during quarantine took hours) and lack of travelling are pain points, but luckily – more like a challenge.
YOU HAVE A BA IN JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATION FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF BELGRADE. TERTIARY EDUCATION, AS WE KNOW IT, TOOK A DRAMATIC TURN DUE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC. HOW DO YOU FORESEE THE FUTURE OF EDUCATION CONSIDERING THE INCREASING POPULARITY OF ONLINE EDUCATIONAL SITES SUCH AS COURSERA AND GOOGLE SKILLSHOP THAT HAVE DISRUPTED THE TRADITIONAL MODEL OF LEARNING?
The decentralization and unlimited availability of knowledge and education are the future. There are many people without access to education due to high prices, limited materials and geographical disadvantages. Online learning platforms are bringing knowledge to places and people without previous access to it, and blockchain technology will only make that process more efficient, fair and simple.
But, to answer the question more concretely, and taking into account my experience in this field (I was part of the Minister’s office at the Ministry of education, science and technology (Serbia), as well as the World Bank’s educational project, and much other educational government and NGO entities), lack of internet access is currently the biggest disruption of the educational system.
Let’s not forget there are many global corners without internet or sufficient internet speed – where urgent action is requested, including emotional and social support, funding and infrastructure improvement needed to keep up the pace of education for children and young adults amid this global crisis. This is the first step we need to take if we are to improve and to innovative educational platforms.
WORKING FROM HOME/HYBRID MODEL OF WORKING MAY SOON BECOME A REALITY FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS GLOBALLY. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON REMOTE WORK AND WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES AS WELL AS WAYS YOU’VE MITIGATED THESE?
Well, I’ve been working remotely for a long time now – so that was not the hardest part for me. What did concern me was how to create a synergy between team members whilst working remotely. When you cannot properly meet your colleagues, grab a drink and celebrate a milestone or prepare a launching party with the team – that’s the most painful part.
Keeping up emotionally and professionally for more than a year with only online interaction… huh, that one is harder to mitigate. We’re all coping with it, as well as we can – but the constant changes in the situation – it’s getting better, then worse, then better again. These cycles (together with constant attempts to suppress fears of travelling during the covid pandemic) are exhausting.
I don’t want to come off as someone who’s got it all together during these trying times. In order to overcome this crisis, we need more understanding, patience, but also teamwork and collective will and effort to bring back normality to our lives.
ACCORDING TO A REPORT COMPILED BY MCKINSEY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. THE REPORT FURTHER ILLUSTRATES THAT WOMEN HAVE INCREASINGLY BECOME MORE EXHAUSTED AND SUFFER FROM BURNOUT AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AS WELL AS MOTHERS?
Positive, proactive measures should be taken – mostly taking care of boundaries – when work starts and when ends. That said, when we are all remote, it is very hard to resist calling or notifying colleagues the moment you get some information – like it’s the most important one. I mean, this is not only the result of the pandemic but the information age and positive measures can be taken by organizations by encouraging team members, especially mothers, to turn off laptops in the evening.
On top of that, consultations and 360 feedback with employees should be the usual practice to keep up, understand and provide additional support when needed.
2021 AND BEYOND
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC? ANY PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
I am, more than ever, open to relocating and working from anywhere I feel comfortable. Since I am a huge fan of working from outside (cafes, coworking spaces, busy places), I haven’t had a chance to do so for some time – and what I realize is that all I need to do is constantly moving.
Unfortunately, that is still not possible, and it’s taking a toll on me, but at least it’s something I know I will do as soon as I get the chance and it’s safe for myself and others.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Keep listening to your intuition and lessons learned. Loosen all unnecessary boundaries set by yourself, and go wild if your mind and actions can bring a positive change for people you work with, or your work affects.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
Being featured as a new tech philanthropist; Launching my Foundation; an extensive South American tour; Kids; Trip around the globe visiting international conferences and meeting online-made connections.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
I don’t have heroes in general, female or male.
I admire daily, powerful, heroic actions taken by ordinary people. People who work tirelessly to bring a better environment to themselves and others, and there’s so many of them, unknown, working without recognition that it would be unfair of me to single out some well-known women, or men for that matter.
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
‘Save Twilight‘ (Julio Cortazar), and will again start ‘Kitchen Confidential‘ (Anthony Bourdain) even though I’ve read it already. I read books on e-readers, but books I particularly like and my favourite authors I like to have in paperback and sitting on bookshelves in my home.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
Mindhunter, The Final Table, The Bold Type
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
Still young, right? 🙂
Maybe at some older age, when I stop pursuing a marketing career – I will open up a charming restaurant, the smallest ever, with constant interior changes, to cook & do workshops.
WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW FORBES CURATES THEIR MARKETING-CENTRIC CONTENT. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO READ THROUGH THEIR CMO NEXT 2021 FEATURE? WHILST ON THE TOPIC OF GREAT MARKETEERS, WHEN YOU RETIRE ONE DAY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED AS A PROFESSIONAL?
Catalyst, believer & fighter. Bringing positive changes & creativity, as well as bringing out all the ‘’hidden’’ talents of team members.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I keep well connected with all my important people. The people I miss most are the people I haven’t yet had the chance to meet due to travel restrictions.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Make sure you are confident standing on your own two feet, don’t pass up chances to learn and improve your skill set – because marketing is a long run, with many boundaries you will have to jump over creatively.
Do not mix up marketing goals and business goals. You are just a wizard of marketing tools and tactics, supporting a business to achieve its purpose in a unique, measured and remarkable way.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME ANITA. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
You can find me always available on https://www.linkedin.com/in/anitaerker/ and Telegram.