Member Spotlight | Jelena Nešović
A woman with every possible role that a woman can have in life. A mother of three children, a wife, a housewife and a lawyer. Founding Member of WomenH2H
I graduated from the Faculty of Law at the University in Niš, Serbia. As a student, I worked a lot for the non-government sector in Serbia. I worked for CESID, the organization whose goal was to provide free elections and democracy in Serbia. I also worked for the Women research center, established by my University professors, where we spoke about women's role in society and the problems they are facing regarding their rights. After finishing my University studies, my career took a different turn. In 2004, I started working as a Real Estate Consultant for Colliers International at their office in Niš. After almost seven years at Colliers, I decided to go back to studying. I studied hard and in 2012 I passed the Bar exam, which allowed me to continue my career in the field of Law. From 2012 to 2018, I worked first as a Corporate Secretary for the company that was managing hotel business and after that as an independent Legal Consultant in a private packaging company in Niš. Finally in 2018 again, I studied hard and passed the exam that enabled me to start my own law office and dedicate my work to what I love doing most. Providing legal aid and helping others practice their lawful rights. My legal practice is free and independent such as I am myself.
When it comes to the role of women at work today, what inspires you, and what keeps you up at night?
It is not so easy to answer what inspires me at work. Every day I find some new inspiration that pushes me forward. Sometimes these are small things like having a cup of coffee with a colleague while being engaged in interesting conservation, meeting new interesting people, reading a good book, or a good article in the papers.
Being a lawyer, in my line of work, I find great inspiration in the stories about people that fought for justice. Stories of the long and difficult struggle of a single man for what he believes is right, not giving up, not compromising, willing to die for what he believes in, and for the good of other people.
I am also always inspired by women who are not afraid to show their feminine side. Women who have successful careers but are also mothers dedicated to their children and their families. Women who are true role models at their jobs but are not ashamed to admit that they can cook too :)
What is your goal around that and why is it important to you? Why is that a priority for you right now?
If I could put my goal in one simple line it would be “DO THE RIGHT THING” it stands in my mind like a neon light commercial :)
In my area of work, it is sometimes so difficult to tell right from wrong, especially when losing feels right and winning feels wrong.
So my work priority at this moment is building my business and doing it right.
What are the biggest challenges you have personally had as a woman at work? How did you try to overcome them?
My biggest challenge at work was to go foreword and stay true to my beliefs and who I am, a working woman, and a mother. I worked very hard to achieve my career goals, but at the same time, I needed a safe space for my family and especially for my children. This challenge still exists and to be honest it is THE thing that keeps me going. I love my family. They are my life and my greatest support, but I am very passionate about my work as well.
Even though sometimes it can be so difficult and exhausting to manage the duties in both these fields, this constant challenge defines who I am and it is constantly driving me foreword.
Who or what would have made it easier? What do you wish you would have done then?
I do not look for the easy way out or an easy solution. I believe that if something is to be done right and if something is to be valuable and solid, it has to be hard to achieve.
I honestly do not know what would have made my path easier, even though it was very hard to go on. I had the love and support of my family. That gave me the strength to continue.
That was the path I have chosen for myself and all the decisions I made, I made them on my own. I only wish I have worked and studied even harder.
Many women are overwhelmed by the constant changes at work, frustrated with conflicts, or disheartened by office politics, drama, and draining emotions. What have you done in the past to help you get through such moments?
What frustrated me is that at almost every job I had, there was a complete lack of women solidarity and desire of women to help each other. What seemed so wrong to me is that the women wanted to be men at work which made them totally lose their feminine side and very often their empathy. They didn’t understand that being a woman does not make them less valuable and that they shouldn't lose themselves in order to have a career.
I strongly believe that a woman can have a career and be a mother at the same time, be sensitive, beautiful and caring. Empathy and understanding other people's needs are not weaknesses, they are strengths.
Who do you follow on these subjects? Are there authors, influencers, leaders, sites, blogs you follow?
As a student used to be crazy about the work of Virginia Woolf. I always thought of her as a lonely, broken woman who wanted to speak of her troubles, rather than some rebellious feminist. She knew there are so many women who were hurting the same way she did. She spoke for all the women who suffer and are not being able to break the chains of their suffering.
At that time I also followed the works of my university professors who thought us of women's rights and the problems women are facing in modern society.
On this network, I have met and started to follow a few amazing women whose knowledge and wisdom meant a great deal to me. I gladly follow the work of Natalia Blagoeva, Dr Haidi Badawi DLI MAICD, Lauren Grey Flanagan, and other amazing women on this network.
Do you participate in other women groups or communities? What have you seen work in such communities and what was missing for you?
When I was a student, I took part in the Women research center that was organized at my University. We were very young and passionate then, but we went on following our life paths and we stopped with our engagements to the center. Lately, as I started my legal practice, I became interested in finding groups who are engaged in women's rights and women leadership. This resulted in me being part of this great community.
At this moment a few very enthusiastic women and myself are starting a project that will help women in our area start their own business, learn about their labor rights, and improve their working skills and self-presentation.
What works in communities organized and led by women, is a very strong dedication of all the women working on the project and honest and open cooperation between them. Working in these kind of communities for me was always a valuable and heart worming experience.
What was missing for me was a lack of my own personal engagement. At one point in my life, I took a different career path and it led me to where I am today.
At this point in my career, with the knowledge and experience that I have, my lack of personal engagement is surely going to change within this great community.
I would like through my engagement on other projects to empower women to strive for their goals and their dreams.
Why is it important for women to be surrounded by other women and what is the role we play in each other’s lives?
The woman is a wonderful, tender, brilliant creature with thoughts, feelings, and notions only other women can understand.
We, women, talk to each other a lot, we listen and we always understand each other, even if we disagree. We represent guiding hands, strong pillars and we put stepping stones for each other.
We cherish our mothers, shelter, and support our daughters, while at the same time we are brought, mother and daughter.
Women need to be surrounded by other women to share and exchange experiences to have a role model, a friend and a kindred soul.
For all these reasons, each woman plays a huge role in the life of any woman she connects and interacts with. When we become aware of this fact I believe, we can do great things together.
What activities could we do so that we master together how to get back our zest, thrive on change, lead with grace and confidence, and co-create the beautiful workplaces we all long for?
We need to connect globally, use any means of modern technology to bring us close together so that we can talk, share our life experiences and our wisdom, teach each other new skills and be there for each other.
We need to be true to ourselves and others, talk and speak openly, join our knowledge, skills, and strengths.
We need to show the world that a workplace built to recognize and understand the wisdom and sensibility of women are not weak or unproductive but strong, humane.
How do you see your role in building this community? And is there anything else you want to add that you think would be helpful for us to know as we are building this community?
I love being an ambassador for this community and bringing out to the outside world its values, ideas, and wisdom. I would love to be able to share my experiences with the women in this community and try to help other women who may find themselves in the situations I lived through in my life and on my career pa
I would love to work together with all the wonderful women on this network to create a world where a woman can have a career she wants and chooses for herself.
I would love to be able to empower women to pursue their professional careers and spread their magic at work but also to be mothers, wives, partners, and support to the ones they love. Only a woman has the power and the strength to do that.