Kaja Pavlinić is a true female leader, activist, and mentor at the female factor. She has been involved in her own youth organization named Sustainable Development Forum Green Window, leading her own company named KAJUŠKA and is taking a role as a Vice-President of Croatian Youth Network. She is also taking a role as a Commitment Mentor for this year’s cohort of Clinton Global Initiative University. That is a lot in her hand! The question is, what can we learn from her involvement in various organizations? Let’s get started.
it is impossible until it is done
Kaja’s involvement in various organizations has resulted in many challenges which has led to her developing her leadership skills. In many cases, she is the one that leads the project, for example when she had to organize a 4-day corruption eradication conference aimed towards youth. She believes that by being proactive, creative, and brave to take initiative are what help her succeed in her position.
“I was so afraid of how this project would turn out, but in the end it was perfect and just the way I expected!”
care for your team
Kaja shared her insight on things that can reinforce her to be a female leader and CEO.
“..always take care of your team – they should always come first”.
Caring about the team also means we empathize from our team’s perspective and relate to them not only as employee and employer but as person. This is one of the key traits that makes you a good leader. According to Forbes, active listening is a critical skill to build trustworthy relationships that breed loyalty. It is not an easy task because it requires us to be aware of body language, facial expressions, mood, and natural behavioural tendencies. The benefit for the organization is huge, it increases employee engagement, productivity, which leads to organizational development.
plan ahead of time
For Kaja, structure and planning is the most crucial aspect to have.
“Before making a career shift, you should really make sure that you have a concrete plan at least for the next few months. Make sure that this is something you want to do and not just a quick decision because you had a bad day at work.”
This means we have to avoid being reactive and too spontaneous in professional life. Structure and planning give us an opportunity to contemplate deeper on our goals. We can think further about what we want to achieve in the future, resources that we need, and also how that relates to other aspects in our life. This also helps us to mitigate the risk and loss that might appear on the journey to reach our goals.
learn, share, ask for feedback!
Kaja loves to learn by doing. She has the courage to get herself involved in places where she thought she didn't belong. This experience has helped Kaja grow into the person who she is today. She also emphasizes the importance of sharing to the community as part of her learning journey.
“I would always recommend talking about your work, sharing your experience and knowledge with everybody, and trying to give to the community as much as possible.”
On a side note, she is willing to learn from others too especially when she has not much experience in certain areas. She reminds us to not be afraid to ask for feedback because there is always plenty of room for improvement.
“Always ask for feedback, but never let people convince you that you are not able to do something.”
lead by example
The entrepreneurship values we know today are embedded in masculine values, for example dare to take risks, rational thinking, and leadership (Bruni et al., 2004). The implication of this is that women are outnumbered three times by men when it comes to business creation (OECD, 2013). Also, it is so difficult to “see” women as the businesspeople (Gamber, 1998), as Kaja said: “..women are still not seen as businesspeople and are forced to adjust to the more traditional roles. I think we should lead by example and show how much we can do.”
For Kaja, if you are passionate about entrepreneurship and get the opportunity to do so, do it! In the end, we can be the example for other women who aspire the same.
about the mentor
Coaching | Personal Development | Business Development
Kaja is a Master of Science in Computing, a Product Manager in Speck Agency, a member of the US Department of State alumni community (BFTF 2014), a member of the Steering Board of the Croatian Youth Network, a Young European Ambassador, a Commitment Mentor at Clinton Global Initiative University, a president of Sustainable Development Forum Green Window, and an owner of her own business KAJUŠKA.
Previously, she has received a “Future Leader“ award by Croatian Women’s Network and a “30 Under 30“ award at VIDI Awards. In her previous work, she has organised and participated in over 40 local and international projects regarding civic engagement, diplomacy and youth. Kaja is passionate about strengthening the capacities of young people in the fields of sustainable development, active citizenship, IT, project management, business development, and leadership.
Want to have Kaja's experience and guidance on your part and to become a confident female leader? Apply to be her mentee in our next batch! You can find more information here.
Bruni, Attila & Gherardi, Silvia & Poggio, Barbara. (2004). Doing Gender, Doing Entrepreneurship: An Ethnographic Account of Intertwined Practices. Gender, Work & Organization. 11. 406 - 429. 10.1111/j.1468-0432.2004.00240.x.
Gamber, W. (1998). A Gendered Enterprise: Placing Nineteenth-Century Businesswomen in History. The Business History Review, 72(2), 188-217. doi:10.2307/3116275
Piacentini, M. (2013), "Women Entrepreneurs in the OECD: Key Evidence and Policy Challenges", OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 147, OECD Publishing, Paris, https://doi.org/10.1787/5k43bvtkmb8v-en