Job title: Business Operations Manager
Year of graduation: 2014
Supervisor: Associate Professor Zvonko Kostanjčar, Ph.D.
Study profile: Information and Communication Technology / Information processing
A short biography in which you introduce yourself to the students in a few sentences, tell them who you are and what you do professionally and privately.
Hi, my name is Jasmina Begušić. FER was one of my two options after graduating from high school – in the end, I chose it as the path of least resistance. But I haven’t regretted it! If I could lead another life in parallel, I’d also practise medicine.
In my free time and at work, I’m addicted to solving problems. I relax with various workouts and cooking – I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve fallen for the latest trend of baking sourdough bread (which pretty much tests the limits of my problem-solving skills!).
What was your career path like? How did you change jobs and find new employers?
At the beginning of my graduate studies, I was convinced that I’d take the path of science because it is something that runs in our family. During the Erasmus exchange at the university in Aalborg (which I consider an excellent opportunity for personal and professional growth!), great emphasis was placed on exactly that, and there I discovered that I was more of a practical type and decided even then that I’d “go into industry”. Toward the end of my studies, I got the opportunity to participate in the three-week Infobip campus programme, and after that, I got a student job where I continued working as a full-stack developer after graduation. Although I knew this wasn’t my long-term path, I learned a lot and gave myself a good foundation for future jobs. After a few years, I moved into project management on the recommendation of a friend – first at Shoutem, then at Five. When I realised I missed the production environment, I moved to Microblink (again through friends and former colleagues). I’ve been there for three years now and have changed my job description a few times – from the first Project Manager in the company to Business Operations Manager, which is what I do now.
Most of my career path so far has been along the lines of “let’s try it, why not” at moments when I didn’t have a better plan, and so far, that’s only opened up great opportunities from which I’ve learned a lot.
When you think back to your experience at FER, what helped prepare you for your career?
I think it was mostly the mindset I developed during my studies, even though I didn’t realise it until later in my career. During your studies, there’s a lot of emphasis on looking at situations critically, constantly asking the question “why” and developing a problem-solving mindset. The study requires us to look at problems from a broad perspective, to be adaptable and resourceful, and it sparks curiosity in engineers – all of which have given me an excellent foundation for all the positions I’ve held so far. I’d say that these are universally applicable skills.
What’s the most useful thing you’ve learned during your career?
I’d highlight two things in particular, both of which have to do with good communication and cooperation (phrases that are often used and understood as clichés!). The first is that (active) listening is a very underrated skill that can bring you a lot of success. Fortunately, it can be trained (and continually improved). The second is that, for successful cooperation, it’s crucial to fully put yourself in the other person’s head/skin/shoes (all of them at once!), see the situation from their perspective, and sincerely try to understand the motivations behind their attitude or decision. This is especially important in conflict situations – it’s the only way we can really find a successful solution to a problem.
Before I became aware of this, I had less understanding of people and would (unnecessarily) put myself in a state of frustration. As far as I can tell, this is a common trap for inexperienced professionals – which almost all of us are after we graduate!
What’re your responsibilities at work?
I lead a small team that works with senior management (Leadership Team). Our priorities are directly determined by the current business needs. We run different projects and programmes, some of which are of a pure research nature (to give management an overview of a problem), others because we don’t have dedicated teams for them yet (often these projects show us that we really need new teams), and some are transformative in nature (these are the most complex programmes with often unpredictable twists and turns).
Our main role is to take a neutral view of the business and think first and foremost about the success of the business as a whole, identifying opportunities for growth and development and proposing clear implementation plans.
We currently have 3 business units, and my team works with all of them, so we have the opportunity to work on all kinds of challenges.
How important are social and communication skills in your job? Did you consciously work on them or did you acquire them through work?
They’re extremely important. In my job, the most important thing is to know how to reach people and information. I need to know how to adapt communication to the group I’m working with (which changes all the time), how to adapt solutions and how to present them to teams so that I can really bring them along. Without good communication skills, it’s much harder because there’s a lot of friction and misunderstanding. I spend a lot of energy and time on that.
I’ve consciously worked on it and acquired it through work – I’ve attended training and one-on-one coaching sessions which have helped me a lot, but only to a certain extent. At the end of the day, everyone is an individual, every situation is special in some way. In any communication, we should tailor our approach to that specific person on that specific day.
What advice would you give to students who’re looking for a job?
To stay curious and take every opportunity that comes their way, especially at the beginning of their career, because that’s when the risk is lowest and you never know what doors may open!