ECA College Journey

A Leadership Journey: Reflections on Women’s Equality Day

As we celebrate Women’s Equality Day, we invite you to embark on a journey through the inspiring narrative of Anja, the Marketing Director at ECA. Her story is a tapestry woven with threads of education, performance, and a dash of serendipity. From the corridors of academia to the helm of marketing, Anja’s odyssey is not just a personal tale but a testament to the resilience and growth inherent in every leader.

1. Personal Journey:

Ah, my personal journey to the helm of Marketing Director at ECA is a tale woven with threads of education, performance, and a dash of serendipity. Picture this: a former high school teacher of English and Philosophy, navigating the corridors of academia before taking the helm as Head of Modern Languages. After a decade at a local high school, I embarked on a new odyssey, delving into the enigmatic realm of marketing, but my passion for education remained. I have always gravitated towards marketing roles in the education sector or at the crossroads of education and technology. As fate would have it, my journey unfurled across continents, from Slovenia to London, and eventually, Sydney. During the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic, I had the opportunity to connect with Gavin, our wonderful COO. The conversation led to a job application and a few interviews, and I was back in education marketing full-time! Becoming a manager and leader may seem like a natural progression after a certain time spent in the industry, but truth be told, for me, this is one of the best rewards in my career. It is brimming with challenges and perpetual opportunities for growth. I find myself in a perpetual tango of learning and teaching, where the exchange of knowledge flows between myself and the team (or at least, I fervently hope so!). After all, in the grand scheme of leadership, I can’t help but chuckle at the paradox: in this epic saga, one cannot reign supreme if there are no valiant souls ready to charge into battle alongside.

2. Challenges and Achievements:

While I consider myself fortunate compared to many, I’ve had my share of sexist, racist, and just plain insensitive comments in the past, which was quite a shock considering my background where such biases weren’t the norm. Dealing with that took some soul-searching and even led me to leave a company at one point. But I’m not one to stay down for long. I’ve since doubled down on advocating for equality and proposing initiatives for positive change. At ECA, I’m proud to have led efforts promoting diversity and inclusion, from supporting gender equality to empowering underrepresented groups in our industry. I take pride in fostering a culture of respect and equal opportunities within our team. Everyone’s contributions matter, regardless of gender, race, or background. It’s all about building a better, fairer workplace for everyone.

3. Mentorship and Support:

In my journey, I’ve had amazing mentors like my grandfather, whose integrity and commitment to fairness and respect, regardless of gender or background shaped my ethics. In my career, I’ve had the privilege of learning from exemplary leaders such as Stefan

Allsebrook at Firefly Learning in the UK, and Matthew Verity at Artis Group in Sydney. At ECA, I’m lucky to have colleagues like Rodrigo and Gavin, who’ve been rock-solid mentors. They’ve shown me that mentorship isn’t just about teaching skills; it’s about guiding and supporting personal and professional growth. While I think mentorship is crucial for everyone’s career growth, it’s especially vital for women aiming for leadership roles. By supporting women in leadership, we create more diverse and fair environments where everyone can succeed, no matter their gender. For women, mentorship is a powerful way to navigate and tackle gender bias in the workplace. My mentors have been invaluable in guiding and supporting me through the challenges of my career and have shown me that success is achievable for everyone, regardless of gender. They’re role models who inspire confidence in other women aiming for leadership positions. The highlight of my time with ECA is Rodrigo saying, “I am so lucky and happy that I am surrounded by so many strong women.”

4. Impact on Marketing Strategies:

As the Marketing Director, my viewpoint as a woman is just one part of the diverse mix that shapes our marketing strategies at ECA. It’s not solely about gender; it’s about embracing the full spectrum of diversity in our team – from background and culture to work styles and opinions. It is the diversity and equality of ECA that enriches our perspective and ensures our marketing efforts resonate with a broad audience.

5. Promoting Diversity and Inclusion:

Ever since I joined ECA, fostering diversity and inclusion has been ingrained in our culture, with respect and equality being fundamental values of ECA. However, we’re not resting on our laurels and have implemented various initiatives to further promote diversity and inclusion. We’ve made strides in updating our Maternity Leave Policy to better support employees, re-evaluating our values to prioritise respect and equality, and actively celebrating and supporting events such as International Women’s Day and the LGBTQ+ movement through initiatives like the Equality Year Initiative. We have also taken concrete steps to address gender disparities in STEM fields with initiatives like the WIITs (Women in IT and Engineering) internship scholarship, aimed at supporting female students pursuing IT or Engineering-related courses. Moreover, our student recruitment strategy and marketing efforts are heavily focused on diversity and equality, recognizing that a diverse student body enhances the quality of education and overall experience. To ensure representation and celebrate diverse achievements, we showcase success stories of women in traditionally male-dominated courses and vice versa, highlighting the accomplishments of male students in female-dominated fields. Additionally, we provide continuous professional development opportunities for leaders on topics such as communication, allyship training, cultural barriers, and sensitivity, along with workshops and sessions for all staff on mental health, work-life balance, and marketing strategies that prioritize inclusivity and purposeful content. These are just a few examples of the many initiatives and strategies we have implemented to foster a more inclusive workplace and promote diversity at all levels of ECA.

6. Women’s Equality Day Significance:

Regardless of where equality stands, we must keep pushing for gender equality. Women’s Equality Day serves as a call to action, it reminds us not to get complacent but to ramp up efforts in education and beyond. In education particularly, it’s crucial to create a level playing field where everyone has the chance to succeed. It’s on us as educators and leaders to advocate for gender equality and break down barriers for women in all fields.

7. Advice for Aspiring Leaders:

Stay persistent and resilient, but only if your heart’s truly in it. Passion fuels perseverance. On a lighter note, here’s a piece of advice: don’t dry your gym socks on the toaster! In other words, embrace creativity and unconventional thinking in your approach to leadership. While staying persistent and resilient, don’t be afraid to think outside the box and approach problems with a sense of humour and creativity. Every lesson, big or small, paves the way for growth.

8. Balancing Work and Personal Life:

Balancing work and personal life is constant work in progress for me, just like it is for many. Being passionate about my work (and a little stubborn) often means putting in extra hours, but I’ve learned that setting boundaries is key, and it’s up to me to enforce them. I highly recommend finding activities outside of work that bring joy and relaxation. For me, it’s boxing, heavy metal music, art galleries, writing, and spending time with loved ones. Regular calls with my parents and brother keep me connected and sane. Whether you’re sweating it out in the gym, soaking in cultural delights, mastering the art of cooking, exploring the art of procrastinating the weekend away, penning a masterpiece, or knitting yet another scarf – make sure you do have that life outside of work. Remember, it’s just a job. It sounds harsh, but burning out helps no one. Take time for yourself – no one changes the world solo.

9. Continued Learning and Growth:

I stay updated with industry trends by immersing myself in a million online resources for anything interesting in marketing. And let’s not forget the Marketing team of rock stars who do the same and then we exchange the latest. Additionally, I structure and plan my professional growth based on what the work demands and what I aspire to achieve. It’s a bit like juggling flaming torches while walking a tightrope, but hey, keeps things interesting!

10. Message for Women’s Equality Day:

Gender equality in the workplace should not even be a phrase, but rather, we should simply talk about equality. Let’s strive for a world where individuals are judged based on their skills, abilities, and contributions, rather than their gender. #CelebratingPeople

In conclusion, Anja’s leadership journey from the corridors of academia to the helm of marketing at ECA is a testament to the resilience and growth inherent in every leader, especially on Women’s Equality Day. Her story reflects not just personal triumphs but the collective achievements in fostering diversity, inclusion, and gender equality within the workplace. Through mentorship, advocacy, and strategic initiatives, Anja has played a pivotal role in shaping ECA’s culture. The significance of Women’s Equality Day is a call to

action for continuous efforts in education and beyond, breaking down barriers and creating a level playing field for everyone. Aspiring leaders can draw inspiration from Anja’s advice to stay persistent, embrace creativity, and find a balance between work and personal life. The message is clear: it’s time to strive for a world where individuals are celebrated based on their skills, abilities, and contributions, transcending gender biases. #CelebratingPeople in all their diversity is the key to a truly equal and inclusive future.