In this new “Women in Tech” series, we will introduce you to talented tech professionals that are riding the wave of change in the most exciting tech companies and ecosystem organizations in our region. Having a strong and devoted team is one of the prerequisites of success for every startup venture and what investors are most often looking for, so we want you to meet the ladies who are making innovation happen.
We will explore different roles and jobs – from technical talents to professionals responsible for the growth and exploration of new markets, to IT jobs you haven’t even heard of, yet. We will also talk about what it is like to work in tech – the skills you need, the challenges you meet, the work environment that helps you thrive, and the future of work altogether.
When Skopje-born Arijana Koskarova decided to start her own company back in 2017 in North Macedonia, she didn’t know where the path ahead was going to take her. Today, her training hub Creative Hub spans three countries – North Macedonia, Kosovo, and the US.
The idea that drove Koskarova to build Creative Hub was how to give aspiring Balkan entrepreneurs a chance to upgrade their skills in marketing, HR, web design, and much more. After opening two offices in the Western Balkans, she then decided to make Creative Hub an international brand, and expanding to the US was the most logical step in this direction.
In this interview with The Recursive, Koskarova reflects on her beginnings as an English tutor, her professional journey, and how she got to become an entrepreneur in North Macedonia.
The Recursive: Tell us about your career path so far and how did you come up to your current position?
Arijana Koskarova: The answer to this question makes me smile. If you asked me this question 5, 10, even 2 years ago I would not imagine myself being where I am today.
My career started back when I was 16, I was a “freelance” English tutor. That time it was just pocket money but seeing it from a 16 year ago perspective I would say that it’s the starting point for my hard work, commitment, and dedication towards a goal.
Throughout my career I have interned at government ministries, being part of Work & Travel programs where I have learned the basics of customer service and what really means to start from the bottom.
I have worked as a manager for US Corporation in Shanghai, launched my company in North Macedonia back in 2017, opened it in Kosovo in 2019, and here I am today writing from Miami where I am on my path to build Creative Hub in the US market.
How did you come up with the idea for Creative Hub and how would you define the company’s culture?
My parents are University professors, my grandparents were also teachers, it was natural for me to start a company in the education field. 😉 However, the idea comes from my own life experience. As I mentioned before I have spent my 20s in Shanghai-Monaco-US working for Corporation and when I came back to Macedonia in 2017 I realized that we have to give these people here an opportunity to dream and grow big. But, first, they need to have skills. So we started.
I did my homework and if you read the latest job market analysis you will see that the demand for tech jobs is booming. By 2030 there will be a shortage of more than 85 million workers in the tech industry. Here lies the opportunity for our business model.
In terms of company culture, I will say two things: people can work for you because of money or because they love their job. As long as my colleagues choose the second, I know that our company culture is strong.
What have been the advantages and disadvantages of developing in your field as a woman?
I don’t see this as a woman, because I don’t feel intimidated by others in this field. However if I can compare the US to North Macedonia or the Balkans, I can say that here in Miami woman to woman, and men to women business relationships are far more open to help and support.
What does a day in your life look like? Tell us something we don’t know about the field you’re working in.
I wake up at 5, often because of the time difference I am bombarded with messages and emails. However, I try to do as much as possible until noon. Then I have my first cardio workout, I take a break for lunch and I start my daily activities in the US. Often around 6 pm, I have my second workout or I run by Miami River as it helps me meditate, switch my mind and rest my focus. I don’t watch TV so the night usually ends with planning the day for tomorrow or having a great dinner with friends.
Something you don’t know… hmmm… it requires genuine desire to want to help someone to be better than what they are.
What did you want to be growing up and how has this vision changed over the years?
I always wanted to have my own business. I am still an entrepreneur.
The vision has not changed… I only took some time working for others so I can learn how to do things on my own.
What is your definition of success?
Being able to live a healthy, happy, and fulfilled life.
What do you think makes you good at what you do?
Courage and genuine and honest approach to help others.
How has technology shaped your career?
Without technology, there would be no Creative Hub. Our website is our business. Social media is the way we reach out to customers.
What are your professional goals for this year?
Establish the US operations, and raise a seed round.
Tell us about how you coped with a big failure in your career? How did you move on?
There is no such thing as failure or success. We just live another day to fight for our dreams.
What is your motivator during not-so-productive days?
My team. When I get a message from either one of them it just gets me on track.
I have no time to be tired, they bring me back.
From remote work, through automation, 4-day working week, to universal basic income, how do you imagine the future of work?
Balanced. There are advantages and disadvantages to the new and “old” way of work. What is important is balance and accurate KPI’s.