Michaela: "What does a Head of Marketing at Touch4IT Do?"
Hi Miška, could you please share some information about yourself?
Hello. Of course - my name is Miška, I'm a marketing enthusiast and strategist, a huge book lover (my dream is to write my own book someday), a lover of TV series, and a person who enjoys learning, progressing, inspiring, and supporting people on the team. And, I'm also a mom - that's probably something that characterizes me and is a big part of me, too. :)
What do you do at Touch4IT?
I am the Head of Marketing. Together with the team, we set up our marketing strategy, address the topics we want to communicate, refine our brand, create our PR presence, manage our company social media, create video content, and so on (there are a lot of activities). My responsibilities are leading the team, setting the strategy and vision (why we do what we do), setting the agenda, planning, providing feedback, etc. However, I still reserve some of the "creative" tasks for myself within a smaller portion – I write and process some of our case studies, handle our website's structure and content, and also work on setting the promo strategy for some of our own products.
Can you recall your early beginnings at Touch4IT? What was it like to be one of the core members during the company's establishment?
Oh, I still remember when the boys (founders: Matej, Richard, Michal) were sitting in the office at the Faculty of Informatics and Information Technologies STU in Bratislava, gradually getting started and working on things. It's nice to see how far they've come and where they're still headed. :)
I officially joined the Touch4IT team in 2017. Before that, I occasionally helped them out, but then I became a permanent member. I think there were only about 10 to 15 members back then, a small team, but I also believe that almost all of us are still on the team to this day, which is great because it shows that the core team is truly healthy (friends, good relationships, helping each other). This allows us to build a strong corporate culture (which, without a doubt, we have, and it's not just empty words ;)). So, I took the position of marketing manager, and for a long time, I was dealing with marketing in the company on my own, which was a big challenge, but at the same time, a lot of hard work. Sometimes we managed to sit down with the boys (founders) and discuss the direction and marketing strategy of the company together, but sometimes I had to figure things out on my own. And most importantly, I couldn't do everything I wanted because I didn't have the capacity for it; I had to focus only on the most important tasks and what was currently needed. However, it's a huge advantage for me that I have been with the company for many years, and I know all the new, old, and very old projects. I know how and when we promoted them and what didn't work. I have an overview of the company's entire history, so I dare to say that I have a good grasp of our corporate DNA, I know our brand, "who we are" and "who we are not," where we're heading, and what our overall vision is.
What qualities do you think led you to become a Head of Marketing at Touch4IT? Which skills are crucial for this role and why?
I took on the role of Head of Marketing at a time when our marketing team began to gradually expand, and it became necessary to manage our agenda, have order in what we're doing and will do, clearly define goals and the entire strategy, and stick to it. I consider myself a very systematic, organized, and thorough person, so, sometimes even very much, a managerial position is something that really suits me, and I enjoy it. It brings new challenges and situations that I have to learn to address myself, but being a good leader for the people on the team is one of my highest professional goals, so I do everything to make it so - to have our marketing team stable, to get along as friends, help each other progress, do work that makes sense to us, that brings us joy, motivates us, and inspires us in life. :)
At the same time, since I adore marketing and creativity, I don't want to be only a 100% manager, so I keep some tasks "on my desk" to ensure that I stay involved in the marketing field and continue to create.
So, what's important is certainly organization (having an overview of the team's overall agenda, individual tasks, etc.), systematicity, the ability to communicate with people, giving feedback in a way that pushes team members forward rather than discourages them, setting and sharing a vision for all the activities we do, and being able to provide answers to why we do what we do so that they themselves feel part of the whole thing.
As a woman in a tech company, how does it feel? Are there any stereotypes you would like to see disappear?
Wow, this is such a broad question (but a very good one!), and I'm afraid I might talk too much, and no one will want to read it (:D). I'll try to be concise, though. I wouldn't say that it's significantly different in the tech industry specifically; I've never encountered a situation where, because I'm not a technical person, designers or developers don't listen to me, ignore my opinions, or refuse to explain things. I just need to be careful to formulate my questions well to get an answer I can work with, one that I understand and can communicate further.
As for stereotypes – not necessarily within our company, but more generally in the broader professional sphere – there might be times when I perceive stereotypes related to appearance and age. I look younger for my age, and as a result, my opinions or proposals are sometimes not perceived as coming from someone with several years of experience in the field who truly knows what they're talking about. On the other hand, it's a challenge for me at times, as it motivates me to demonstrate my knowledge to gain respect from those individuals.
In general, what I also perceive – but this is across the entire human society, not just in specific companies – is that when a woman wants to build a family (have a child) and also develop her career, it's extremely challenging, and very little is said or done to improve and support women in this situation.
So, how did you plan it as a working mom? Did you return to work earlier than the traditional "norm" in Slovakia?
In Slovakia, the system typically works like this: after giving birth, you have 6 months of maternity leave, and then, after these 6 months, you can take parental leave, which can last until your child is 3 years old. After that, you can still stay home with your child, but you don't receive any financial support, and you can do so until your child turns 5, after which they must attend preschool. Many mothers stay at home until their child is 3 and then return to work, although I feel that this is changing, and more mothers are staying home with their children for longer these days.
As for us, we decided to do things a bit differently - a choice that many mothers might disapprove of or not understand. We enrolled our daughter in daycare when she was around 1.5 years old. For me, the traditional "maternity leave" wasn't something I found fulfilling, and honestly, I believe that socialization is crucial for a child (it's not a coincidence that most countries have shorter periods of maternity/parental leave than we do in Slovakia). To this day, I consider this decision one of the best things we could have done. I have a healthy and warm relationship with my daughter, and I can also focus on my work, something I enjoy, making both of us happy. :)
What's a typical workday like for you, and who do you collaborate with the most?
Usually, at 7:30 in the morning, I'm already sitting in the office, having breakfast while reviewing my calendar, planning tasks for the day, or reading news and articles. I start actively working on my tasks from 8:00 until 8:45 when we have our team stand-up meeting – we go through what each of us is currently working on that day and what's on the agenda. From 9:00 onwards, my days vary – sometimes, I'm stuck in meetings (with HR, and sales, regarding our website, team leadership meetings, and topic-specific meetings), and other times, I have more time for computer-based tasks – writing, processing, providing feedback, and problem-solving.
In the afternoon, I continue with my agenda, and at 2:00 PM, we have a feedback meeting with our graphic designers to review their outputs, provide feedback, and finalize them. Around 3:00 - 3:30, I leave work, pick up my daughter, and my full-time mom duties begin. :)
What's your favorite thing on your schedule?
It really depends on what kind of day I have and what I feel like doing at the moment. There are times when I look forward to days filled with meetings, where we discuss and collaborate with others. Other times, I enjoy days when I can spend most of my time alone at the computer, working on my tasks and engaging in creative work. In general, though, I really like our morning stand-up meetings where we, as a team, discuss everything, have friendly conversations, and get a comprehensive overview of what each of us is working on and what the entire team is focused on.
What's the biggest challenge in your job?
For me, currently, it's being a good team leader who motivates people, energizes them, and provides constructive feedback that helps them progress. A team leader, who creates an environment in the team where people feel good, and their work fulfills them. That's my challenge but also my biggest goal.
How has becoming a mother impacted you? Have you acquired any new skills or discovered hidden talents that you use while managing marketing?
I won't lie; I haven't discovered any hidden talents within me, but I have definitely developed – or I'm in the process of developing (:D) – certain qualities. For example, I've noticed that I have more patience (I repeat something multiple times without getting immediately nervous), and I also try to see things from the other person's perspective. This is quite important to apply, especially in raising a child. If you look at their outbursts of anger or any behavior from your own adult perspective, you won't understand much of their behavior, and you'll only get frustrated and angry. However, when you try to view the situation through their eyes, you'll understand a lot of it and be able to treat them with understanding and respond to the situation better.
Is there something special about the Touch4IT culture that you'd like to share with the world?
Our Bratislava office is in a large house with a garden, so sometimes you don't even feel like you're going to work but rather going "home". In the morning, you can have breakfast in the kitchen with your colleagues. During the day, you work at your desk in a pleasant working environment, have face-to-face discussions, have lunch together with others in the kitchen or on the terrace, and in the afternoon, you can have a quick personal chat over coffee. You stay in touch with people, maintain friendships, and are directly involved in our company culture, which is relaxed, friendly, and inspiring for work.
What advice do you have for young people starting their career journey?
Find what you enjoy and are passionate about and pursue it as your profession because when your job fulfills you, it fulfills your whole life. During high school, I wrote a lot, participated in numerous competitions, and won many of them. I enrolled in the Faculty of International Relations for college, but during the teaching of foreign languages and diplomacy, I was still drawn to writing (as well as various part-time jobs). I switched to another faculty after completing my bachelor's to study marketing and management, getting closer to what truly fulfills me – first just writing, then also the entire field of marketing and its various aspects. That's how I found my path to a job that is, in the professional world, my dream come true.
Do you have a life motto? If so, what is it?
When I was younger, I had more creative life mottos (of course, I don't remember any of them now, but they were certainly interesting :D). However, today I only follow one classic motto: "If it's not about life, it's not about anything.". Because if we have the good fortune to be healthy, everything else always somehow works out. :)