Ivana Gracin - COTRUGLI

“It made me to re-think myself, my ways of anticipating situations and solving problems and styles of collaboration and decision making.”

In 2012, I was officially promoted to Team Lead and back then I was the youngest Team Lead in Erste & Steiermärkische bank d.d. where I still work. I have always been guided by the thought that it is important that you always know what your strengths and weaknesses are and that constant work on yourself is inevitable for success. I knew I was given the opportunity to grow and develop the team, but also me as a manager and I do not miss opportunities, so I took it. On one occasion, I read a quote from Jack Welsh that said: “Before you are a leader, success is all about growing yourself. When you become a leader, success is all about growing others. ”I liked this quote very much and I decided to go in that direction and it is still my lodestar. 

From the very beginning of my career, I have been working in the sphere of strategic risk management, which involves knowing the broader picture of the functioning of the economy and banking as a whole, but also at the micro level. However, I needed to continue learning and understanding business as well as developing myself. So in 2013 I enrolled in the COTRUGLI MBA program. 

Great colleagues, excellent program, top-class international lecturers, hardworking environment, intensive teamwork with managers and potential entrepreneurs from all over the region made the person who I am today. It made me to re-think myself, my ways of anticipating situations and solving problems and styles of collaboration and decision making.  

Today, I am the Director of Quantitative Research department, which involves Data Science, leveraging it to enhance the Bank’s business processes and integrated risk management, which results in defining the optimal level of risk that we are willing to take without questioning the sustainability of the Bank’s business model. On a daily basis, we operate in cooperation with absolutely all organizational units of the bank. This brings with it challenges, requires constant adaptation to situations, people, and not infrequently requires compromise solutions, of which we are not always in favor. When I took on today’s role, I faced several challenges. Mastering the technical preconditions for understanding and doing this type of work was only one of them, however, as the biggest challenge would highlight people, i.e. managing excellent talents and a concentration of high IQs, but sometimes also very strong egos. 

Every day requires from me to work with different people, negotiate, discuss, and deliver solutions and decision. The MBA program has given me great tools to act in this role. It taught me ways to get the best out of people and how to reach my goal and that it is not a defeat if it wasn’t immediately the way I initially imagined it. To be clear, it is not always a success, but I can definitely see the progress with respect to before. The program taught me that you’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette, which has also become my favorite life quote. Everyone who wants to succeed in life and achieve something has to face some sacrifices or mistakes. 

I am happy that I was given the opportunity to work with top experts, some of them today I can call friends, to acquire new professional knowledge and skills in order to perform excellence in strategic activities and to establish the ability to keep a level head at all times, nurture and grow a team, evaluate opportunities and risks and also deliver innovative new solutions to challenges.