LJUBLJANA MBA, WOMEN FOR WOMEN: Sonja Kolar

You have established your own business during your MBA study. Were you always passionate about entrepreneurship, how have you decided to go on your path?

Entrepreneurship has always inspired me, and I was always in the search for interesting, inspiring, happy stories of successful people who managed to get out their comfort zones of regular employments. I always thought that successful entrepreneurs are people of 100 hats that manage so many different roles and are skilled at everything. During my MBA studies, the bank where I was working, came forward with a proposal to separate and I immediately saw this as a good opportunity to look for something new. Not a new regular employment relationship I had for the last 20 years, but something more adventures. And being an MBA student, I thought to myself what am I doing here if I don’t dare to try getting into the business. There must be a reason I enrolled in this study in the first place! So I decided to try something new, something I cherished in my thoughts for years, but never had the courage to do. And then I got first offer to do some consultancy services even before I opened my business and I understood this as a clear sign to go forward with the idea.

Good leaders are always learning. Did an MBA helped you with your decision or supported you with additional knowledge?

MBA for sure helped me put things in the right perspective. Meeting diverse people with different opinions and experiences and out of box thinking contributed to reflect at my positions from a different perspective. In addition, having courses where we were challenged to think about our future and where do we see ourselves in a certain timeline, forced me to put down on paper what I wished for. I strongly believe that enrolling the MBA put me in the right position, at the right time. For me, starting my own business at 46 was the perfect timing. I wish now I would have done it earlier, but everything happens for a reason and at the right time. At 46, I was ready to launch my business from scratch and MBA just gave me the right tools to do it. Needless to say, the professors were very supportive and open and looking from today’s perspective, it gives me great comfort knowing I made some strong alliances on the SEB.

Do you believe that women need more business »role models« and what would your advice be to them?

Having role models helps for sure, but what women need is supporting society, that will not expect them to compete to be the most beautiful woman, the best student, the nicest person, great neighbor, best wife, best mom, best daughter, best cook, best colleague. I see so many standards for women all over the place how we should look, how to behave, how to dress. If you think you need to meet all these expectations, you find yourself doing things that just drain your energy from your life. I believe that women should go with the flow, be more relaxed, not having such high standards for themselves. My advice to women would be: Have confidence, don’t let anyone tell you your dreams are impossible. Be daring, be you, be what you always wanted to be. If you fail, it’s fine. Get up and try once more. Don’t apologize for being you. Have faith and be optimistic. And if you can enjoy in what you do and be happy at the same time, you are already a winner. As Falon Fatemi said: At the end of the day, you are the only one that is limiting your ability to dream or to actually execute on your dreams. Don’t let yourself get in the way of that.

How do you find balance in your life? What gives you the joy and energy to balance all the roles that you play?

My whole life is in balance since I started my own business. Flexibility to work when you wish to work, what you want to do, with whom you chose to work is priceless. Sometimes I start my workday early in the morning, the other day in the afternoon. Sometimes my weekend is in the middle of the week and Saturday working day. I can choose to have an office at the seaside or up in the mountains. But one thing is for sure: every project that I do is a different learning experience. I do not consider my new career as a job; it is a part of my life that I chose for myself. My private life and my professional life are in sync. And none of this would be possible without strong support from my husband and my two loving daughters, who taught me how to be brave and courageous.

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