Men should be appreciated for the women beside them: Interview with Dr. Jana Marin for Zenski magazin
Strong, ambitious, educated, successful and always vociferous about the role of contemporary women in society. It is a motive enough to talk to Dr. Jana Marin, Director and member of the Board of Directors of “Acibadem Sistina” Hospital
Dr. Marin is a dentist. In 2009, she earned her MA at the Department of International Healthcare Management, Economics and Policy of the prestigious Bocconi University in Milan Italy. As a counselor to the Minister of Health, she worked on a wide range of topics in the area of healthcare policy and economic planning in the public health sector. She upgraded her managerial skills by attending lecturers at Harvard Business School and the prestigious Kellogg School of Management in the USA. Putting her education, expertise, managerial skills and innovation to use, she currently runs the key projects of “Acibadem Sistina”.
Dr Jana Marin gladly agreed to talk about the professional engagement and role of women leaders, and the related stereotypes, prejudices and challenges.
“Acibadem Sistina” Hospital sets high criteria ever since it was opened. Last year’s implantation of a total artificial heart (TAH), qualified by the media as “A Historic Day for Macedonian Healthcare”, presented Acibadem Sistina yet again as a leader in introducing new interventions. What did it mean for the hospital?
– As a hospital we have always been pioneering complex, most advanced and most modern interventions. We have always tried to be the first. It requires constant commitment by the top management but at the same time, it requires the best doctors’ practice and their readiness and engagement with the entire hospital team.
By mid-last year we announced we were entering a very extensive Transplantation Program. The implantation of the first total artificial heart in Macedonia – and only the second in the wider region – was a forerunner, that is, a precursor, preparing us for performing heart transplant interventions. Total artificial heart (TAH) essentially bridges the moment when the heart is cancelled out as an organ (i.e. can no longer function), with the moment when a compatible, donated heart is found and the transplantation can be performed. Total artificial heart enables normal quality life during that period. By performing this intervention, we proved we were ready to begin with a heart transplant program. We have the team led by the exquisite expert Dr. Aleksandar Nikolic, Head of our Cardiac Surgery Department; we have acquired the technique and all other necessary prerequisites. We plan to enter a kidney transplant program too, as we have the team with the greatest experience for this type of intervention. We will also begin yet another new program, a bone marrow transplantation.
As a hospital we have always been pioneers in performing complex, most advanced and most modern interventions. We have always tried to be the first.
Does it mean that transplantation is the next major challenge for “Acibadem Sistina” and for you personally as a healthcare manager?
– About a year ago, “Acibadem Sistina” Hospital organized the first international symposium on transplantation, which was attended by international experts from the hospitals of the Acibadem Group and our public healthcare system. We discussed, debated and announced plans for a public-private partnership. We have created a transplantation program in a wider network of co-operation; it will be successful and it will drastically reduce the costs our country covers for interventions performed abroad. It is now possible in our country, since we are part of the large Acibadem Group, which has the best Research Center and Transplantation Center in Istanbul. When I talk about the Research Center, I am referring to genetic laboratories exploring new cells, techniques and methods that will improve the outcome of bone marrow transplantation. One of the specifics elaborated at the symposium was that in certain cases patients of the Acibadem Group can be treated without immunosuppression. It is one of the most important benefits of these clinical trials. Namely, immunosuppression is performed in bone marrow transplants, making the organism extremely sensitive to infections, thereby posing major risks during the postoperative period. We have techniques and methodologies enabling patients to survive and live a high-quality life in a much simpler and healthier way than has ever been practiced in Europe.
Let’s go back to another aspect of yourself. You are vocal about the different perception of women versus men in the business world. As a woman-leader, what stereotypes, prejudices and challenges did you meet while developing your professional career?
– I have personally already begun accepting that at many tables with a decisive power outside this hospital, I will probably be the only woman! It happens in our surrounding. Our society accepts women, they are given a role at different representative levels. However, at decision-making and executive power levels, “something” favors men, and women end up not getting those positions. Even when obtaining such positions, the power of decision-making and the way in which they are perceived are limited. When a woman has all characteristics of a good leader – that is, what literature and practice define as a good leader, such as determination, responsibility, imposition of attitudes and so on, then the perception is that she is “cold”, arrogant, intrusive. When the same characteristics are manifested by a man at the same position, then he is a successful leader, determined, his thinking is right, he takes responsibility. That is the stereotype, the perception that has maintained until this day. I am not saying however, that I myself did not perceive it in the same way at times. It is probably due to the fact that we expect women to continuously manifest a certain amount of emotion, empathy or some kind of milder, softer behavior. But, on the other hand, when women show such behavior at these positions, they are always at risk of being perceived as weak, and will consequently not be given the complete decisive power they should have.
I have personally already begun to accept that, at many tables with a decisive power outside this hospital, I will probably be the only woman!
According to you, what are the principles on the path of success for a contemporary woman?
– I believe in several life principles for a successful career, regardless whether you are a man or a woman. Sitting at the top of the organization and getting there, requires a lot of work, integrity and decision-making and of course, a good education. You must have all these things regardless whether you are a man or a woman, in order to succeed and survive! I stick to those. I have often found myself in situations to be the only woman present at the table. I am the only woman at the Board of Directors of “Acibadem Sistina”. I was the only woman at the Board of Directors of Acibadem City Clinic in Bulgaria along with nine men, and now I am the only woman at the Board of Directors of the International Balkan University. Fortunately, at “Macedonia 2025”, where I am also a member of the Board of Directors, I am not the only woman and I have exceptional women-colleagues there. I have to point out that a woman sitting at such position, yet with no family relation to the ownership structure, is a great rarity in our region. I am not saying I was not surprised myself at first, but nowadays it is completely normal and I do not feel any different than the others, or less respected by colleagues at that table.
Is the objectification of women real in everyday life?
– There is still a prejudice that a beautiful woman could not be smart. In our society, a beautiful woman is considered a compliment to a man who finances her. A beautiful, smart and independent woman, is still difficult for us to accept. I am very happy to see many beautiful and very smart women more and more. I would like to be surrounded by such women since I believe that beautiful women are happy women, they are much more successful than all the others. And that every woman is beautiful in her own way. It is a topic I experience very emotionally because I feel there have been times when our country was run by groups of so-called leaders who have imposed a value system of total discredit of women. To be more precise, the country was led by a group of unreliable and frustrated men who have masked their insecurities and the lack of relevant qualities by aggression and by degrading women. I believe that a successful man is the one who has a happy woman next to him. Men should be appreciated for the women beside them, be it their spouse, partner… It says a lot about that man, that person, about what he respects, how he makes decisions, what he prefers and how he will act at important times. His choice of a woman is key! The way he made that decision is the way he will make all decisions in his life. This mirroring principle, helped me, after I became aware of it, to better understand whom I talk to. Only an exceptionally confident man, satisfied and aware of his own value can have a strong and successful woman beside him and support her at her career, allowing her to be a woman and to be successful at the same time.
How, in your opinion, does society create acceptable conditions for the realization of women?
– Our society should start from the beginning – from the concept of respect. At first we need to start respecting ourselves and others. At the same time, we should respect women. Respect our mothers, sisters, grandmothers, spouses. To respect women is taught at young age, it could not be learned at the age of 40 or 50. It is reflective of the domestic upbringing. It comes from the family we grow in. If the family is founded on love and respect, there will be respect for women in society and only the society with happy women is a successful one. Woman’s character and values are reflected in the whole family. If the woman is happy and satisfied, children will grow up in the same manner. Then the family will be the same. And the family is the basic unit of society.
To respect women is taught at young age, it could not be learned at the age of 40 or 50. It is reflective of domestic upbringing.
What did you dream about professionally as a teenager?
– I have always been very ambitious and always, without being modest, I can say – I was interested in reaching the top. Wherever I were, I knew I should be at the top because it would allow me to make the most significant changes and to improve things. At each stage of my life, I was striving to prepare well and to get to the highest position. It was the same in high school, at the University… Career wise, I knew that in order to be able to assume the top position, I should have the best of backgrounds. That is why I attended excellent schools that provided me with a solid foundation to do what I do today. Talking about ambition and personal development, yes, I am at one of the top positions in healthcare in Macedonia, but I will relate this to another point I think is worth making – major healthcare reforms, the greatest steps in global healthcare systems were made by women! The two most famous reforms are those executed by Margaret Thatcher in England and by Angela Merkel in Germany.
What do you think of first when Ohrid, your town of birth is mentioned?
– I think of my family. I also visualize one of the naturally most beautiful towns in the world. Yet it is the least utilized and inadequately organized to capitalize on its natural beauty and potential. That is an area to work on and develop. I am one of those people who consider that our state should provide a well-elaborated law on Ohrid since it is our precious stone.
Where do you direct your energy when you are not focused on your job? How do you relax? What makes you feel good?
– The job (she laughs). I read quite a lot. Unfortunately, due to my professional engagement, I do not practice sport enough. The only exception is when I steal an hour from myself and dedicate that time to horse riding. It’s a passion. Also, playing golf makes me feel good, for it is a combination of being relaxed and focused all at once! Then, I travel quite a lot and it’s something that fulfils me. Fortunately, I can consume a bit of the global metropolises’ culture on these trips. I enjoy watching a good ballet or an opera. I watched “Yolanda” by Tchaikovsky at the Metropolitan Opera in New York some months ago, it was an exceptional experience that recharged my batteries.
Fortunately, at “Macedonia 2025”, where I am also a member of the Board of Directors, I am not the only woman and there I have exceptional colleagues!
Modern women prefer to live on their own. Do partners of women-leaders often have inferiority complexes?
– It depends on the partner. I do not know if Angela Merkel’s spouse has a complex of lesser value. And I do not think he has. Also, I do not think that Kolinda Grabar Kitarovic’s spouse is less valuable. On the contrary, I think these men are complete personalities who have allowed their women to be leaders and have no problem living with them. Women-leaders are not without feelings and without a need for a partner, they are no less women. Only an extremely clever man can find that balance. And it does not mean he is less valuable. Women-leaders need a much stronger, not weaker man than them. For, you can be certain – a strong woman cannot be delighted by a weak man!
source: Zenski magazin