You Never Know Your Strength Until You Are Put on a Test

06 Feb, 2020 | 4 minutes read

Each person has some story, and all of those stories are different making all people unique and when all of them gather in one place they make that place magnificent. Our company has a small number of all the people on Earth and they have made InterWorks what it is today. That’s why we cherish them, we celebrate their successes, support them in their efforts, and in cases of failure, we all learn from it and move forward with upgraded knowledge.

Our Principal Advisor, Elizabeta Memca shares how her persistence and challenges through life made her stronger.

“Life happens for you, not to you”. I always try to remember this, especially when things don’t go the way I want them. It does not mean you always get what you want, or that everything is great, it means there is a lesson for you in every situation, something that you can use to grow.

I was born and raised in a neighborhood where the head of the family was a man, and the women were generally viewed as housekeepers and not fully equal to men. I grew up believing that I should keep my head down and obey, as what can a simple woman do, other than keeping a clean house and taking care of the kids.

Education & Working Experience

During high school, as well as college, I had one thought on my mind – get a scholarship to the USA as I wanted to study and live there. I saw the USA as a place where I can become who I wanted to be, not the person that society imposed me to be. I tried a bunch of times to get a scholarship, and after many, many tries, and failures, I got a 50% scholarship to Graceland University in Iowa. To fund the other 50%, I applied for a loan to over 50 USA banks, and all I got was just a rejection. Out of desperation, in the end, I approached the Macedonian Church in Columbus, OH and got a loan from there, with no paperwork, just faith that I will return the money.

My first internship in the USA was for a private company in Houston (the company is now our client). One of the first successes of this internship was that I was able to buy my first computer. Up until then, I programmed on paper and transferred the ‘code’ to library computers. This was a dream come true for me! From there I joined a startup consulting company ZettaWorks that specialized in integration consulting. One of the first things I learned as a consultant was to always try, no matter how small the chances are, and if you fail, to get up and try again.

A few weeks after I was hired, an opportunity came up for SAP integration. I was straight out of college, no idea what integration is and even less what SAP is. I had 2 hours to prepare for an interview. It was supposed to be with a non-technical person, just to make sure we can communicate. It did not go as planned. The non-technical person could not make it and the technical person was conducting the interview. Needless to say, I did not do well, and I was happy the interview was over the phone so they can’t see my red face. But as we say, you get up, dust off and go.

With time, I became an expert in integration development, then moved over to team leading, architecture, and then a director position with the company that acquired ZettaWorks. I stayed with the company for over 16 years. During that time, I worked with over 40 clients across the USA. The projects were anywhere from a few days to the longest-running project of 7 years. Working on so many projects gives you a chance to grow, as you need to learn something new to be able to help the client, but also looking back you can see the patterns of problems that exist. Most of the time, the issue is not technical, it is human relationships and communications. Because of this, I moved to a management and sales position and I picked another challenge: Start a practice for a technology you know nothing about. I wanted to see if I can successfully manage people without knowing how to complete their tasks if needed. I made mistakes, in the beginning, analyzed, changed approach and tried again. By the end of the first year, my practice was doing 20% better than planned. I was ecstatic!

My biggest support – my family

Most of my career I work together with my husband, Aleksandar. I know for some people this is unusual, but for us, it gives us the work/life balance, as we both work long hours. In 2016 I decided to leave the consulting company and support Aleks in growing InterWorks as the best offshore consulting company. The people and culture at IW are amazing, I used to be their client, so I knew them well. The decision was not a difficult one at all.

Many of my successes and proud moments would not have been possible without the unquestionable support I get from Aleks. I am forever grateful that he believes in me and stands beside me, even when I don’t. 

Last few years, we had changes on a personal plan as well. We had a lot of loss on both sides of the family, but we also became parents to two beautiful children, Veronika (6 years) and Gabriel (1 year). It is not a cliché when they say, having kids changes your perspective. It does, at least for me as a mother. I now evaluate things from my heart, not from my head. There are times where I skip a meeting to go cuddle a crying kid – something I would never do before, but the priorities shift at times :).

I had many ups and downs in my life, and I know that I will have them in the future as well, but what keeps me going was the wish to break the constraints that society poses to people who are different and want to do more.