Edited By: Tanmaya Ramprasad
I had the privilege to sit down with Mila Kovacevic, the incoming president of Rotman Commerce Women in Business (RCWIB). Rotman Commerce is the undergraduate business school at the University of Toronto and one of the largest and most well-established student groups in the program! Here, I asked Mila about RCWIB, her experience, any pressures she might be facing, and some advice.
How would you describe RCWIB, in your own words, to anyone that isn’t familiar with it?
RCWIB is currently a group of 28 Rotman Commerce students working to create an inclusive, educational, and uplifting community to promote personal and professional development and celebrate the accomplishments of female leaders in the industry along with our own. By collaborating with different student groups and industry sponsors, we host numerous events, including our annual Dress for Success, Speed Networking, and the Women’s Leadership Symposium, to foster meaningful connections and skills that can be leveraged in everyday life. Aside from our many events, mentorship also sits at the heart of RCWIB, which we emphasize through our mentorship program, connecting 3rd/4th years with 1st/ 2nd years to guide and support one another’s undergraduate journey. Above all, our team is simply a huge group of friends who love to talk about everything- from school, Netflix shows we’re watching, online shopping we’re doing and restaurants/café’s we’re loving… I personally think that it’s this tight-knit bond we have with each other that makes our community so special.
What is it like being the incoming leader/figurehead of an organization dedicated to promoting women’s empowerment in the male-dominated field of business? Do you feel pressure to behave or appear a certain way now?
I feel incredibly humbled and thrilled to be the incoming President of RCWIB this upcoming year. After working under the wing of phenomenal and inspiring RCWIB leaders, including Advika, Hunter, Hannah and Eclipse, I saw firsthand what it means to empower your team through positivity and encouragement. It is their guidance that has facilitated my development and self-discovery to the leader that I am today: that is, a more confident and courageous person than I was three years ago. I will always treasure their advice, and it excites me to now share my experiences with the incoming team as well. While I wouldn’t say that I feel pressure to behave or appear a certain way now, it is my priority to be my team’s rock and someone they can lean on, just as my leaders were to me, which is what will drive women’s empowerment in the male-dominated field of business. I am rooting for my team’s journey to self-discovery as a female leader in business and am here to spark challenging conversations while supporting the overall Rotman community through our mission.
How can we deal with competition among women (for example, a certain job) while also supporting each other?
Collaborate! I think when one is in a situation where they are balancing competing among other women, many of whom may be their friends or peers while supporting one another, forget that we are stronger when we can fuse our minds collectively to offer different perspectives, feedback, and mentorship. At the end of the day, I think we should use competition as an opportunity to help one another out; no matter the outcome, you know that you contributed to your own growth and the growth of others as well. Lead with empathy, prioritize your accomplishments, but also don’t forget to celebrate the successes of others and those who helped you get to where you are!
Some women want to proudly say they’re feminists but are afraid to because of the somewhat negative connotation it has to certain people or because they don’t want to appear too “pushy”. What advice would you give to someone in that situation?
While it’s tough acknowledging that this is something many of us women face today, I think that this fear ultimately stems from our own internal battle of people’s perception of ourselves. And though easier said than done, I believe that it comes down to you, as an individual, to disassociate the connotation of being a feminist as something that’s “pushy” but rather synonymous to the many other titles we proudly hold, from daughter, student, sister, athlete, etc. I encourage you to recognize your worth, be self-aware, and try to fight that inner feeling with pride!