13/02/2017 | Written by: Snezana Zivcevska
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My name is Snezana Zivcevska and I have been working at IBM for already 10 years. I am a Project Manager at IBM GBS Application Innovation Consulting, and I currently work on Transition and Transformation project for Philips Lighting. Next to that I am also part of the team who works on the development of the cognitive solution Watson Food Advisor. I love technology and I am passionate about applying it on solutions that will help people making their lives better, smarter and easier.
I have a Master degree in Computer Science from the University of St. Cyril and Methodius in Skopje, Macedonia. When I completed my education the whole Balkan region was in war. That had a huge impact on the economy of my country. Although the country was not in war, there were limited economic, cultural and social developments. As every young person I had big dreams. And at that time it was obvious that if I wanted my dreams to come true I had to go abroad. At the end of the 20th century the internet became one of humanity’s biggest innovations, changing the world as we know it. I still remember IT booming like never before because of this development. At that moment the companies in The Netherlands were looking for highly educated and skilled professionals from all over the world to come and work on challenging projects. This was my chance, and because of it I ended up in The Netherlands.
IT has always been a male-dominated industry, and it has never been easy to be the only woman in the team or at the table. Fortunately, the situation at IBM is a little different as IBM is committed to gender, age, and cultural diversity, although in my opinion, we can be even better at it. That was the reason why I became an advocate and big supporter for Gender Equality in Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM).
We are part of the 4th Industrial Revolution: the Digital Revolution. Innovation is everywhere; disruptive technology and rapid developments in the fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, nanotechnology, 3D printing, biotechnology, predictive analytics, and mobile. Technology is not only a supportive part of every economy; it has become crucial for every aspect in our lives. If we don’t put effort into motivating and attracting more girls and women to IT, and by doing so closing the gender gap, we risk leaving half of the population behind. This might cause serious economic issues in 10-15 years when technology will be taking over many aspects of our lives.
In October 2016 I joined the IBM Smarter Women Network in The Netherlands. Our goal is to empower IBM female professionals, promote IBM female talent within and outside the company, and collaboration with the women networks from other companies through for instance events and workshops.
Since January 2017 I am also an UN Women EmpowerWomen Champion for Change. I serve as an advocate for womens’ economic empowerment, both online and in my local communities, by being involved in a series of innovative initiatives and projects. For instance, one of the projects aims to increase awareness around gender balanced teams, companies, and communities; piloting courses on Digital Literacy and participating in the #BreakTheGlass and #HERstory campaigns.
#BreakTheGlass is an online campaign and it is about making visible the women who have managed to break their glass ceiling and present them as a role models to other women and girls who have the same ambitions. #HERstory is also and online campaign and it is about making visible the stories of many remarkable women from the history who have made great achievements in various fields like science, medicine, technology etc and in that way have contributed the development of the world.
The movie ‘Hidden Figures’, is in my perspective more than an inspiring history lesson with a great performances of the main actors. The three African American women (Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan, and Mary Jackson) helped put the astronaut John Glenn into space; the first American in space. The movie celebrates the three individual characters in a way that they consistently try to lift others up. They are exceptional at what they do, but they are also generous with their time, their energy, and their patience, making it all feel very humane. The movie doesn’t only tell the story of the biggest achievements for NASA in spaceflight history, but it is also a story of civil rights and feminism in the United States in the 1960’s. It is about technology and diversity and that’s what IBM is also about.
I would like to finish with the following: The world is going through big changes. I believe that technology will play a crucial role in making this world more human by taking over big part of the jobs we do at this moment. It will free up time and space for people to live a more creative and human life. I must say that I feel very privileged to live in this time, and I am very proud that I can give my contribution to the changes happening. I strongly believe in a better future and equal opportunities for everyone:
I believe in a 50:50 Planet.
Some additional information about myself:
We Can Do It, Girls!
Video “Why do we need more girls and women in IT?”: https://spark.adobe.com/video/AH7EaeTuSg8tz
In October 2016 I was nominated for the National VIVA400 Award 2016 for one of the most inspiring women of The Netherlands in category ‘Smart Brains’. Link: http://www.viva.nl/viva400/knappe-koppen/page/2/#snezana-zivcevska-stalpers
In November 2016 I was the winner of the Impact Award 2016 from the renown Dutch female magazine Opzij in the category ‘Women who influence the society from their formal position, but also women who break the informal boundaries by using their knowledge, experience, time and capabilities to influence.’ Link to the Interview: https://blendle.com/i/opzij/succes-komt-niet-in-een-nacht/bnl-opzij-20161117-98021