Jelena Djakovic is the founder of Libra Consulting, a full-service marketing and consulting agency that specializes in business development, with a focus on hospitality. As a brand development consultant, she believes that marketing should and must be fun for both the client and the agency. She desires to work with brands who have a vision, and people who are not afraid to explore their creative selves, and wish to challenge the status quo. Her company is located in Belgrade and has been in business for three and a half years.
“I would love to do meaningful things that will change the world, obviously, as would we all, but for now, I want to be able to use the influence and knowledge I have - to do good.”
This new-age entrepreneur faces challenges almost every day but she is someone who thrives on challenges rather than security. Her yen for escapades comes from her childhood voyages to foreign countries with her parents. By the time she turned 18, Jelena had already traveled almost every continent and consequently developed a passion for other cultures.
“It was inspiring and fun, and I now know, vital for me becoming who I am today. I was incredibly lucky to have parents who wanted to show me the world. Instead of expensive cars, or designer clothing, I got to travel the world. Traveling is an activity that gives you a new perspective on everything, one that is impossible to gain any other way,” says Jelena. “The common denominator for all of my life has been hard work. Don’t get me wrong, I went out, I had fun, more so than others, but I would wake up every morning knowing everything I need to that day, and doing it.”
She studied theatre design in college and to expand her horizons and imagination even further she spent one year in the States on a scholarship, which allowed her to study whatever she liked. Not taking a traditional route, she started working as an assistant at a marketing agency and fell irrevocably in love with marketing. “Working on the agency side, and then the client-side, gave me a great insight into the market, the needs, and expectations of clients, the difference between their wishes and possibilities, and the very, very difficult job of combining the two,” recounts Jelena with a laugh. “I stayed in the industry, with some minor straying, and at one point, 10 years in, I felt that I can offer a different kind of service to clients, wider than what is traditionally considered marketing, and more tailored to their specific needs. So, when I decided to open my own consultancy, the one thing I really wanted was to offer a wide scope of personalized, smart, well thought out services to each client. To provide clients with services that will really make a difference, and services that have not yet become a typical outsourceable category of services at all.”
Jelena Djakovic, Founder, Libra Consulting
Starting a business is always a risky undertaking. Every day is a struggle of sorts, but for Jelena – a welcome one. She runs her agency with the fundamentals of flexibility, innovation, and hard work. She proclaims, “We have a set of standard services that we offer, but we are small, adaptable, and interested in everything new. We want to stay small, so we do not aim at ever serving huge corporations. We help newcomers enter the market, start-ups, small companies that cannot break into bigger business, and larger ones that need a new point of view in a certain area. We do everything as a partner of our clients, not as a service provider.” Jelena deeply believes that every great idea, or even average idea with an innovative approach, has the power to become a great brand and a vessel of change – by creating a community around it. “My personal belief is that people make all the difference,” adds Jelena. “It requires hard work, great strategy and people working consistently to make it happen because they believe in it.” Thus, Libra’s purpose is to help grow such pioneering brands by assisting them to write their stories and share them with those who need to hear them. In the past three years, they have worked on developing communication strategies and concepts for clients such as the Aleksić Winery, PoštaSrbije, Viceroy, DekaInženjering, and handled projects such as the British Council New Technologies and more.
Although a successful woman in the creative industry, Jelena is well acquainted with the glass ceiling. Her way of dealing with it: ignoring it. She explains, “Even today, I tend to sit in meetings with mostly men, and somehow the expectation is that you will not have anything to contribute, except being there. But I have always known that I know the business, so I never paid too much attention to this, and that has proven to be the best remedy. You do what you do, show what you know, and things fall into place.” Jelena measures her success through the success of the people she has mentored and the growth of her clients. For her, there are no secrets to it. One should simply be genuine, hard-working, honest and generous.
What does a game-changer like Jelena actually do? Jelena is someone who is constantly inspired by the work she is doing. She regards each day as a story for itself. Waking up at seven in the morning, she prepares her coffee and sets out to read emails and check up on social media. Usually, she is done with the daily work by four as per their official business hours but sometimes she stays and works all evening if there’s a deadline to beat, or a project is upper inspiring. After work, she chooses to spend another hour following up on new industry trends and news.
When she is not disrupting her industry, Jelena finds happiness in spending time with family, and friends, in the sunshine and a nice glass of wine. She loves theatre and cinema, and one of her favorite unwinds is to play cards, occasionally poker, after a long day of work. To rejoice the sneaking traveler in her, she makes sure she visits at least one new city every year.
Doing great work
Jelena says that her enthusiasm for life comes directly from her family. She shares, “My parents and my sister are great role models for me- hardworking, honest and very much of the opinion that you MUST also have fun in life.” She offers a piece of similar advice to women aiming for leadership position.
She asserts, “Believe in yourself and support others. Do not compare yourself to anyone else. Do great work, and learn from everyone around you. Smile, even when you don’t want to. Delegate: This I cannot emphasize enough as advice for women leaders especially. Women tend to micromanage more, and they lose so much valuable time doing so. Be kind. Have a greater purpose for everything you are doing…… Have fun.”