Meet the Talent – Tijana Damjanovic Gertner

Place of residence: Belgrade, Serbia

Position: Founder of Umbrella Marketing Agency, Co-Founder of Content Hotspot

Please describe a day in your life:

My days start with a quick phone check for urgent emails and my energetic music list on full blast – since I don’t drink coffee, my motto is more like “Don’t talk to me until I’ve had my three-morning songs.”

Quick carpool to the office, and then breakfast with my ladies (have I mentioned Umbrella is an entirely female marketing team?) – we discuss daily tasks, clients, current events, and life in general. After that, I am mostly on client tasks until lunch, when I unwind with the team. After lunch, it’s mostly calls and client meetings, discussing strategy, approach, and partnerships. 

After work, dinner with my husband, have some quality time with our pets and cuddle up with a book before sleep.

How many projects are you currently working on? Please describe them:

Since I run a marketing agency and manage a segment of operations of a content writing agency, I am involved in over a dozen projects. 

Projects range from preparing a B2B travel platform for their big launch, increasing audiences and sales for gaming, self-help, and beauty-related projects, to strategizing with a decentralized exchange or building in-house marketing teams for SaaS clients. 

Although I get carried away and fully invested in our clients’ projects, my main focus is Umbrella and Content Hotspot.

At Umbrella, we’re a small team of in-house t-shaped marketing specialists with a broad network of trusted part-time and freelance partners offering full-service marketing. Our entire approach is based on getting embedded into our client’s projects to the point where we understand their mission, vision, values, and business plans perfectly and can deliver optimal results. 

Content Hotspot is a fully-remote content writing agency with 20 writers, and we offer AI-free original content writing services such as – blogs, articles, whitepapers, video scripts, landing pages, and product descriptions – as well as SEO services, collaborating with companies such as Speechify and Semrush.

Regarding non-profit projects, with a group of amazing women, I’m working on creating an IT section in our country’s Chamber of Commerce, helping female entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

In your opinion, who is the most influential person/company in the world of technology these days?

OpenAI. Although they aren’t loud like Elon Musk, nor as controversial, they have released something that has exuded so much influence that it is inescapable as my first answer to this question. 

As you’ll see all over LinkedIn, ChatGPT is permeating every sphere of business, whether people are trying to use it, profit from it, or discard it. While it is definitely not a “universal cure,” it has had more influence on the world of technology over the past 6 months than any single novel solution over the past 10 years. 

I am not saying its influence is all bad, nor all good, but it’s unequivocally immense. From companies firing people who can be replaced with ChatGPT (check Axel Springer), over others, including ChatGPT into their list of features (even when there’s no need for it), to those using ChatGPT and the promise of AI as a magic bullet to acquire investments – I believe we have yet to experience the full scope of this influence.

Meet the Talent
Tijana Damjanovic Gertner

If you could pick one app/product/project existing now that you wish you were involved in, what would it be?

Maximum Effort. Not a fragment of doubt. I’d move to Canada without blinking. 

All jokes aside, starting from zero with my own agency, I often have to abandon creative vision, optimal strategies, and out-of-the-box ideas due to limiting factors coming from the client side. And being a young agency, we have a long way to go to build enough trust for people to allow us the level of creative liberty that Maximum Effort exudes.

I would love to contribute to their work, brainstorm with that team, and learn from them.

How do you see technology evolving in the next ten years?

I see Web3 becoming more and more relevant, more companies moving towards decentralized solutions and reaping their benefits while at the same time returning data ownership to the people, creating a more equitable, safe and secure digital world. 

Unfortunately, I also see a lot of room for abuse and forestalling progress. Unhindered advances can bring a lot of benefits. Still, without proper regulation and timely response from governments, it can increase the gap between 1st and 3rd world countries, increase digital crime rates, and damage millions. 

And while I’d like to believe in a utopian scenario, I’m afraid the dystopian one is more likely due to human nature. 

What would you like the industry to look like in ten years?

I would like to see opinion leaders who genuinely care about further advances in all fields come together and work with governments rather than forming their own little echo chambers of yay-sayers. I would like to see more women in this industry and more tolerance and discussion-based approaches. And last, and most important, I’d like the industry to turn much more towards sustainability and eco-friendly projects.

What are the three characteristics you have that make you successful in tech?

Curiosity, persistence, collaborative leadership. 

Always learning more, pushing forward, and leading by example while at the same time ensuring every team member is heard and their input valued – that’s what got me this far.

What is the most challenging thing you had to deal with during your career?

Organizing a national Miss Universe competition in Romania from literal zero, during Corona, with a virtually non-existing budget, ensuring full marketing and media coverage, and a three-month timeline from the moment we started to the grand finals. 

This event included scaling up in comparison to the year before, re-establishing the brand and improving its reputation, getting applicants and picking contestants, finding performers, and judges, getting event sponsorships, organizing and running the contestant boot camp and everything surrounding it, getting and managing an entire staff, ensuring the venue, showrunners, scripts, production, scenography and costimography, and in the end having the Grand Finale in front of 1000 guests and live coverage – while Corona restrictions were in place. 

But, although the time pinch, working with people whose language I didn’t speak, limited resources, and a bunch of girls to handle were challenging, the part of this I’m most proud of was none of the above. It was the fact that my team and I got to choose contestants for Miss Universe Romania who were not only beautiful but were women I would like girls to look up to – a surgeon, a lawyer, a historian, an army officer… – intelligent, humanitarian, competent, and gorgeous. 

Tijana Damjanovic Gertner
Tijana Damjanovic Gertner

What is your most outstanding achievement up until today?

Being the Founder of Umbrella and Co-Founder of ContentHotspot. The journey has helped me grow as a person, leader, and professional – growing complementary skillsets, learning to work with people from all over the globe, building relationships, growing teams, and mentoring outstanding marketers.

What do you wish yourself with respect to your career?

Growing Umbrella Marketing Agency to 20 full-time employees while working on projects the team and I really find interesting and believe in. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Leading and mentoring a team of amazing creative minds.

What is your next goal?

Helping empower women in tech in my country.

What are your tips for people wanting to start in the tech world?

Learn on your own. Don’t wait for someone to pick you up from the masses, tell you you’re the one, and hand you that red pill. 

Are you interested in an industry? Any industry. 

Research it. Find out which area makes your mind race, which one makes you want to learn more, and dig into it. And then learn the skills necessary for what you want to do within that field. Learn enough to be at least considered a junior in that area. And then start looking for a job, or start your own business. 

Seeing a driven candidate or a driven founder makes all the difference.

If you could say something to your younger self, what would it be?

It will all be fine. Stress less. Live more.

What do non-tech people around you (family, friends) think you do?

“Something on the internet”, “dabbling on Instagram,” “Something about business and marketing,” or, my personal favourite “, Telling some foreigners what to do about ads”.

What is the invention of the century in your eyes?

Web2.0 – for now (still waiting for 3.0 to see what happens then)

The speed of communication facilitates collaboration between continents, increasing connectivity globally, giving more transparency and creating more opportunities than ever imagined. 

What can’t you do without? (app/product…)

My Kindle, phone, and a (very old-fashioned) notebook.

Which famous person would you like to have dinner with and why?

The late Sir Terry Pratchett – started as a journalist but developed one of the most interesting fantasy universes, embued with satire and humour delivered by complex and appealing characters – showing a depth of experience and insight into the human condition that you rarely expect from fantasy writers. 

Where would you like to travel next?

A month-long trip to Italy is the plan – to experience nature, the culture, the architecture, and, last, but definitely not the least – the food.

If you were asked to stay on a deserted island for six months, what three things would you take with you?

A Kindle (not paid to promote them, I love the gadget), a bucket of SPF since I burn to lobster colour within seconds, and insect repellent. Everything else, I can Robinson Crusoe. 

Do you have a person who influences or motivates you?

I do. But it’s not an influencer or a famous figure. People who influence and motivate me are those who surround me and help me become who I am. 

For one, my husband is my main supporter, critic, and brainstorming buddy.

My uncle, who ran Koper Harbour with over 1000 employees, was the first person who made me put my career path in perspective and inspired me to craft one that I’m excited about every single day. 

And a high school professor, although probably without knowing, taught me that the value of learning isn’t about what’s in the books but about what wakes your passion for learning.

Last thing regarding which you told yourself, “how come no one has ever thought of it”?

Improving building processes. For real-estate. Since I’m very process-oriented and curious about many fields, I found myself digging into this area and realized, for instance, that 90% of what we do in our homes could be more efficient, hardly replaceable, often non-fixable, and severely outdated.

Everyone is focusing on the latest tech for the sake of tech rather than applying it across the board to improve every area of the human experience. 

Last thing regarding which you told yourself, “how come I haven’t thought of it”?

Canva. It’s a really great tool for marketers, and in a time pinch, it’ll do wonders (especially when clients show up with tasks that they were supposed to have done and delivered yesterday).

Meet the talent
Tijana Damjanovic Gertner

What is the greatest miss? (you thought it would never work, but it turned out to be a great success)

NFTs. They made sense only for one practical application, but I never believed they would receive the amount of attention they have, let alone be worth as much as they have been. 

What did you dream of creating/inventing/doing as a child?

I dreamed about telling stories that would allow people to escape dreary day-to-day. I wanted to create worlds readers would gladly dive into, characters they’d fall in love with, and stories that would keep them on the edge of their reading chairs.

Growing up, I realized I just wanted to find a platform that allowed me to reach and influence people – that’s why I studied journalism and how I ended up in marketing. 

How did covid-19 change the way people view technological development?

People learned more about utilizing the full potential of the technology we have at our fingertips, started recognizing gaps in the market, and started developing their own solutions while at the same time being more open to new ideas. Now, we are looking at technology with much more expectations, mainly improving the quality of life. 

Andriani has been working in Publishing Industry since 2010. She has worked in major Publishing Houses in UK and Greece, such as Cambridge University Press and ProQuest. She gained experience in different departments in Publishing, including editing, sales, marketing, research and book launch (event planning). She started as Social Media Manager in 4i magazine, but very quickly became the Editor in Chief. At the moment, she lives in Greece, where she is mentoring women with job and education matters; and she is the mother of 3 boys.