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Architect Team Leader
Last year, Ivana Pohulek was nominated for RMJM’s Rising Star award and is constantly achieving new heights in her career. Whether professionally or in the yoga studio, Ivana is constantly pushing herself, which led to her appointment as a Team Leader at RMJM Serbia. A firm believer in the statement lead by example she tries to ensure that any impact she has on her colleagues is a positive one. This mind-set led her to establish a number of events and activities for the entire Serbia studio during the RMJM Fitness Challenge in 2017. We managed to find a few of her rare quiet moments to sit down and talk to her about the positive experiences she has encountered as a woman in the architecture industry.
What do you do?
I: I am an architect and team leader in RMJM Serbia. My work is focused mostly on interior design for retail and commercial projects and I am in charge of coordinating the interior design on most of our ongoing projects.
Who inspires you?
I: There isn’t really one particular person who inspires me. It is more the certain qualities in people that I find inspiring: the people that never stop growing by working on themselves, by working on becoming the best possible version of themselves and creating their own paths to success and fulfilment (both in personal and professional life). I get motivated and inspired by the people who don’t let themselves get stuck in some generic patterns encoded by the society/environment but manage to break free from those constraints and reach memorable achievements along the way.
What led you to your career?
I: I’ve always loved the idea that being an architect would allow me to create dream places for people (and other living beings) to live/work/play in. With architecture I can contribute to the planet while still protecting it.
What role do you think gender plays in the architecture industry?
I: In my personal experience, gender plays a smaller role in architecture than in some other industries. I’ve not encountered any obstacles due to being a female architect. Professional ability has always prevailed over any perceived prejudices. I honestly believe that it is each person’s (male or female) personality, character, and intelligence that shapes their opportunities and not their gender. However, I do not have any knowledge of the situation in some higher managing or CEO positions. I only speak as an employee in a company, where a lead architect is a woman, which might also contribute to our working environment where both men and women are treated equally.
How has the industry changed for women during your time in it?
I: Since I have been working in the industry for only about 6 years I might not be qualified enough to comment on that. I mean, I haven’t witnessed any major changes in that period. I came from the University of Architecture in Belgrade which in its majority attended by girls and all female architecture graduates I know are working in the industry and have good jobs, so if anything, I think we might be taking over the industry!
What changes still need to come?
I: Both men and women just need to start looking at people they interact with as persons and not see genders. We still need to work on some things – to be less judging of others, to avoid assigning labels which originate from prejudice and learn to let go of the ego and all work together to create a bright future for generations to come.
What is the best professional decision you have ever made?
I: That might be yet to come for me. So far, I would say that it wasn’t one big decision, but those little ones we make on a daily basis. Taking up a task/project that was an unknown field or it was high importance for the company, diving in with all the available skills and tools and throughout learning that I am capable of doing better and achieving more than I thought.
What is a piece of advice you would give to women entering the industry?
I: Go for it! Definitely! If this is your dream, your passion, work hard for it, never stop learning, growing, improving, exploring and everything you set out to achieve is achievable. Practice does make perfect.