As we celebrate International Women’s Day, we want to reflect on the progress that women have made in their personal and professional lives. This event is always crucial to highlight the challenges that women still face when striving to achieve a balance between family, career, personal life, and well-being (physical and mental health). It can often feel like an impossible feat to achieve, leaving us wondering if having it all is just a myth.
But the truth is that it’s not a myth. It’s a journey or a process that requires strong self-belief and hard work. There are so many wonderful, successful women who are proving it all around us. They have shown us that with dedication, persistence, and a positive mindset, anything is possible.
Janja Križman, working as Head of Sales at GoCrypto, is a confident businesswoman with extensive experience in sales. She is a mother of two young children and a former professional volleyball player who is not afraid of new challenges and tries to enjoy everything life offers.
According to Janja, she was always interested in PR and Marketing. She studied Commercial communication and got to experience the world of marketing firsthand during her studies in Germany. She finished her studies just as the 2008 economic crisis began which resulted in her taking a sales position outside her field of studies. She has grown her experience in an international environment and this experience helped her build her character.
The next step for Janja was a prominent international company where she worked as a Leasing Manager, managing tenants — international and local brands, which was for her a dream job at the time. While working full time, Janja finished her Master’s degree in which she developed her own company business plan hoping that one day she would become an entrepreneur.
In 2022, Janja decided it was again time for new challenges and new learnings. She was once again faced with the option of what to choose next. As she put it so clearly: “First job defines you. It gives you experience from a specific field and once you are ready to move on, it’s easier to continue the journey you are already on than start anew. It often takes you away from the path that you drew out for yourself during your study years.”
She could easily continue in her field of leasing management, but decided on a more challenging option and accepted the position of Head of Sales in a start-up company with high potential in the Crypto and Payment Industry.
Leading a sales team in a start-up company like GoCrypto sounds like a big challenge. Can you share with us how you experienced this transition and what this opportunity has taught you so far?
I have always been very flexible, and a quick learner. When I took the position of Head of Sales at GoCrypto, I was initially overwhelmed with all of the information and knowledge that was passed around the team. Both the crypto and the payments industry were new to me and I had to adapt quickly to get an overview of our product, the market, and the competition. I remember, that this was a real challenge at the beginning and it was time to put myself outside my comfort zone. I knew I can succeed if I put my fear aside, focus and observe — I will get the knowledge to understand it.
My coworkers were amazing and I joined the team when we were already pushing our flagship product on the UK market. They helped me with the onboarding and taught me the sales approach, and connected me with the external team. I had to dive in and just trust in myself that I will emerge from that experience stronger. And that was exactly what happened!
We proved our business concept, bonded as a team, and came out of the UK with precious skills and know-how about sales in big competitive markets.
Things got really interesting once we started the Plan B project in Lugano, Switzerland. I was a part of the team who set up the project sales strategy from the start. This was a really exciting project for me because I participated in building the foundation. It’s worth mentioning, of course, that my level of knowledge in crypto and payments was far bigger than when I joined GoCrypto.
The Lugano market is a work in progress. We are continuously optimizing our workflows, monitoring our external processes and team members, joining events, and developing the unique payment solution which our developers designed for the Swiss market exclusively.
What this experience taught me is that you should never let your fear stop you from trying new things. Whenever you are faced with new opportunities, a certain degree of fear will be present. It is how you react to it that defines your character and your future.
You were a professional volleyball player for many years. Would you say that it was sports that embedded this way of thinking “fearlessly” in your life?
Participating in professional sports, especially as a volleyball player, has had a huge impact on my life and my mindset. My volleyball team was like a second family to me, and it taught me the value of hard work, precision, and discipline. Playing at a professional level required a lot of sacrifices, but it also gave us a sense of team spirit that was unparalleled.
I started playing volleyball at a young age, and my team and I achieved many titles including being national champions in the first volleyball league of Slovenia. However, being a professional athlete also meant that I had to make hard choices. I was absent from home and social activities due to the training and matches. It was crucial for me to maintain good grades to continue with sports. Despite the challenges, I am extremely grateful for my experience in sports. I had the opportunity to travel the world. More importantly, the sense of discipline and teamwork that I developed at that time helped me through the challenges that life brings.
Today, I still practice volleyball, but recreationally. I will always cherish the memories and lessons I learned while playing as a professional athleat. The sport has had a profound impact on my life, and I would encourage anyone who has the opportunity to pursue their passion for sports to do so wholeheartedly.
Given that it’s International Women’s Day, I would like to touch on the topic of women working in a predominantly male industry. Have you ever found that being a woman in a man-led industry limits you in any way?
Honestly, throughout the years of working with men, I have never felt limited by them in any way. One could say that it’s harder for a mother to go on business trips and leave her children at home, but I sincerely believe that these situations are difficult for fathers as well. Especially in modern days, when fathers are more involved and present in parenting.
Good and respectful coworkers don’t have double standards when working with women. From my experience, men can treat me like an equal during business conversations and yet be extra protective and considerate toward me as a person.
While I adore my male colleagues, I need to say that women influence me significantly in my place of business. We, women, have a different approaches to expressing empathy and I have always cherished emotional support from my female colleagues.
And now to the everlasting question… Being a mother of two school-going children, how do you handle your work/life balance?
If you are true to yourself and if you communicate it all with your life partner, anything is possible. I do not want to think of myself only as a mother and a wife, but also as an individual. If you live with the feeling that you have not reached your life wishes and goals, then nobody around you will truly be happy — not you, not your partner nor your family.
Life is not defined by how much you give yourself to others, it’s more about the quality of time when you are present. I believe in being honest with yourself, being fulfilled and happy with your achievements, attitude, and appearance. If you are fulfilled by staying at home with your family, then that’s exactly what you should do. If you desire a career, that’s the way to go.
Every scenario is a good one as long as you are living your life as the best possible version of yourself. A supportive partner can help you achieve that. It’s harder for single mothers, but can still be achieved with a good support system of family and friends.
When I decided to change jobs in 2022, I felt a bit guilty. Was I being fair to my family? My previous job was wonderful, but I still desired new challenges. I felt guilty for wanting more… But as time went on, the desire for change did not go away and that was how I knew I needed to proceed with it. My partner supported me on every step and he still contributes enormously to the household and our family so that I am able to do my job as best as I can.
Who influenced your life the most?
My life could be sectioned into three periods within which there were people who had influenced my life profoundly.
During my childhood, my parents instilled in me core values that still serve as the foundation for everything I do today. I strive to pass those same values to my children as well.
The second life period would be my formatting years where my volleyball team played the role of my second family. Volleyball gave me working habits — staying persistent, patient, flexible, and empathetic toward people around me. Sports taught me that focused individual work can take you far, but good teamwork can take you even further.
The third life period is significantly connected to motherhood. My children taught me what really matters in life, where I am the most vulnerable, and what unconditional love really is.
Any final thoughts?
Whatever you decide to do in life, do it as best as you can. Set your limits and make sure that they are respected by others as well as by yourself.
In conclusion we must recognize that the road to success is not easy for anyone, let alone women who face unique obstacles and societal expectations. It’s time to break free from the limitations and let go of the doubts that hold us back. We must believe that we can have it all and that we can make it happen.
This Women’s Day, let us celebrate the remarkable achievements of women around the world and the progress that has been made. We are so lucky to live in a world where we have the privilege and right to express ourselves, even if the journey to true equality has only just begun.
But let us also remind ourselves that there is still work to be done. We should never forget those women who don’t have the same opportunity, and we should work together to make the world a better, fairer place for all women. Let’s continue to support and empower each other on our journeys toward success. Together, we can overcome any obstacle and create a world where women are truly able to have it all.