Griffing’s CEO Nataša Češarek has been running the company with her husband Urban for the past ten years, capitalising on her master’s degree in economics and keeping the tradition of a family business alive. On the occasion of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day, which is celebrated on May 18, she spoke about her educational and professional path, and the coordination of the many roles that female entrepreneurs embody today.
In elementary school, she dreamed of becoming a hairdresser, and as she was not the best student, she was encouraged to enrol in a vocational secondary school. However, her family stood by her and believed in her academic success, so she chose to enrol with a college, emphasising economics-oriented subjects. There she realised that this field suits her career interests very well. Later, she successfully completed undergraduate studies, and while already working full time she also obtained a master’s degree. She was still a university student when she started to become acquainted with Griffing as a blue-collar worker. Today she boasts an excellent knowledge of production processes, which facilitates many decisions. Her message to young women who are interested in entrepreneurship and leadership is to follow their hearts and be persistent, because they can achieve everything they want.
1. Has becoming a CEO or a businesswoman been your dream from an early age?
As a matter of fact, no. In kindergarten and later in elementary school, I wanted to become a hairdresser, and it was only a chance series of events that led me to choose an economics-oriented secondary school, which was where I realised that this is something I enjoy. However, I was always ambitious, I strived for something more, which is why I continued my education and completed undergraduate as well as graduate studies. I will be forever thankful to my loved ones who supported me along the way. Based on the criteria in primary school and my grades, the school system directed me towards a vocational secondary school, so I am all the happier that my relatives encouraged me to study and that I had no difficulties on my educational path afterwards. I am constantly expanding the knowledge I have gained over all these years at work and I truly enjoy it.
2. How do you get along in a predominantly male industry and team as a female entrepreneur?
I was a production worker in our company as a student when it was an all-male team and working with them was never an issue. As I have progressed professionally from blue to white-collar work as a manager, my knowledge of production processes helps me a lot in managing the company, making it is easier to take decisions. Working with men in this sector is great.
3. The difficult circumstances of women entrepreneurs, who are both wives and mothers, are often pointed out in our society. How do you coordinate these roles?
Being an entrepreneur, a CEO, and at the same time a mother, a housewife, and in the recent pandemic period also a teacher is demanding. Perhaps I am lucky because my husband and I work together, he works in the technology department, and I am in management. However, it is certainly difficult to coordinate all these roles, sometimes my work suffers and at other times my family. My work day often does not end at 3 or 4 PM, work-related discussions continue throughout the evening. Sometimes it is hard to disconnect from work, but my husband and I have a common goal and I think we are successful at achieving it.
4. What message would you like to relay to young women interested in leadership and entrepreneurship on the occasion of Women’s Entrepreneurship Day?
Beginnings are tough and you will have to put in a lot of hard work, sometimes even give up your free time or weekends. Success does not come without sacrifices. However, having a kind partner with whom you can share feelings, who understands you and also helps you with household chores and family responsibilities, whether he works in the same company or not, definitely makes it easier. Make sure to follow your heart and never give up, because women can achieve everything that we want.