The tech world is rapidly evolving daily with new inventions being constructed and marketed around the world. Anamaria Meshkurti, who has previously worked for the United Nations (UN), as a programme officer in the Telecommunication Union (ITU) Office for Europe, and is also the Head of Marketing at a company that supports startups in the technology sector, sees the tech world changing with the focus being more on audience-based content. She elaborates on the reasoning for these changes and tells us more about her history working in IT, including her tasks, and how she manages to be a leader of many businesses.
“In the future I see social media marketing being a key driver behind which technology is going to be adopted.”
Talk us through your days working for the United Nations (UN). What were your daily tasks like?
Working for the United Nations (UN) was a dream of mine since I started studying International Relations and politics while I was living in London. That dream came true when I joined the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which is the UN agency for information and communication technologies (ICTs). I also briefly worked for the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO), which is the UN agency for intellectual property (IP).
During my time at the ITU, I had the opportunity to be positioned in a variety of roles, starting from dealing with Telecom Ministers and the Head of States programme at the Telecom World event. This was at the time one of the largest telecommunication and technology events to work with European countries in establishing their national strategies for innovation, youth, gender, accessibility, and digital skills.
My roles were very much member-facing, where I interacted daily with government representatives who would reach out with various requests that ranged from challenges they were facing or potential joint projects that we could do in the ICTs field. Event organisation and participation is another big part of the role, given that the UN is a forum for members to come together to discuss and decide. Additionally, I worked on the Bridging the Standardisation Gap programme which supports representatives of governments to understand better the standardisation process. As part of this programme, I had the opportunity to be part of the trainer team and meet with many of the delegates. Finally, when I was leading the ITU Smart Incubator, my daily tasks were very much focused on scouting startups in developing countries that were utilising emerging technologies but were not looking at standardisation.
Even though the tasks vary from the position, working at the UN allows you to interact with international experts who are attending the meetings or are your colleagues. You are in a continued state of learning and knowledge exchange, and you must stay updated with the latest news and trends to be able to do your work effectively.
Does being the Vice, Head, and Leader of many businesses come with its challenges? What would you say are the key traits of a leader?
Leadership has changed so much throughout the years. When your part of various businesses and activities, it is difficult to keep an unbiased view of everything and manage your time well. Therefore, being able to delegate, keep an open mind and be adaptable, while sticking to the vision and being smart about how you use your time is very important.
Given my interactions are quite international I have noticed that there is no one size fits all in terms of the key traits, and it does vary quite a lot from a cultural standpoint. However, there are some general traits that every leader should have, no matter where they operate.
Focusing on developing others and yourself is important given that as a leader you should continue to grow but also invest in the growth of your team. Encourage strategic thinking, innovation and action in the team while creating a culture that accepts failure and mistakes. Practice cross-cultural communication, especially when working in international teams and ensuring to delegate. I have seen several times great leaders that are unable to delegate or let go, which frustrates the team and decreases the bandwidth of the leader. Finally making your team feel important and appreciated and admitting to your mistakes, are some of the key traits that every leader should have.
What are some things you didn’t expect from your role as head of marketing?
Being head of marketing, communications and engagement at FONGIT is a lot of fun but it comes with a huge responsibility. This is a very creative role but also very operational. You need to ensure that you come up with interesting ways to push your message out to the world, but you need to also ensure that you do this promptly. Good timing and concise messaging are everything when it comes to marketing. On the other hand, you are responsible for how your brand is perceived, what the audience writes about you, and everything else that goes out in the media.
What is unexpected when it comes to being in this role is how marketing is in every part of the organisation. Even when a colleague from admin is sending a letter, it is the letterhead/font that you as the marketing team have decided to create. That letterhead represents your brand. When you are out at a social event and you are speaking to someone you are marketing the brand. All these interactions need to be picked apart as much as possible. It is the role of the head of marketing to think of these situations and ensure all staff are trained for them. As we say in marketing, always expect the unexpected.
Why the passion for technology?
I cannot say that I was always drawn to the tech world. I saw it as quite a male-dominated field, where you had to be an engineer to be part of. Back in the day I started volunteering and was involved in several projects where technology was always the common denominator and the solution. Whether you want to learn a new language, find a job, report a crime, acquire a skill, make a friend, find your life partner; you always end up using technology. It is part of our lives, and it will take even more space in the next few years. I understood very fast after having these interactions that technology is so powerful, and I felt that I needed to be part of the conversation around it. I cannot think of anything else that evolves so fast and impacts society as widely. I am now completely fascinated by tech and how it is used. I always encourage those around me to involve themselves at any level possible.
Where do you see the tech world in 5 years?
There are two key trends when it comes to the future of tech. The first one is related to tech for good. For many years’ technology has been advancing but we have not stopped to think about the “side effects”. We have at times agreed to set them aside for the achievement of progress. Today we see increasingly movements of tech for good, investors reviewing companies not only on the profit they make but on the positive impact of their technology. This will continue in a couple of years and it will most probably be a key criteria for all new technologies being developed.
The second trend that amazes me is the fact that marketing is driving new tech. The Metaverse, the NFTs, would have not spread so fast without marketing and social media. Even though some of these technologies have been around for many years in different formats, they have not been picked up as fast as today. In the future I see social media marketing being a key driver behind which technology is going to be adopted. The audience is now part of the conversation together with the technologists and can drive it thanks to the power of marketing.
What is the most thrilling experience you have had in your life and why?
My most thrilling experience would be when I went hang gliding in Brazil many years ago. I am usually not one for adrenaline sports and my younger brother wanted to go. We have a big age difference, so I signed him up for the experience without revealing his age as it was not requested in the form. When we arrived at the site unfortunately the instructor indicated that he was too young and would not be allowed to do it. As we would not be able to get a refund and everything was already set, they asked me to do it in his place. I was in complete shock and I was very scared.
Hang gliding is all about lightweight free-flying and there is no engine. You do it with the instructor, where you jump off a mountain and after flying for some time you land at the beach. To this day I do not know how I found the courage to do it. I was very scared, but I just pulled myself together and went for it, as I knew the opportunity would probably never present itself again. Once in the air, the fear disappeared, and I felt like a bird. It was just incredible. You could see all the sights and I loved it. We landed safely and since that day I promised myself that I would never allow fear to stop me from doing something. Every experience in life is like hang gliding, you don’t think of doing it, someone pushes you, you don’t want to take the opportunity due to fear, but in the end, you do it and love it. I am not yet fearless but almost there.