“I absolutely love it.”
The small city of Mitrovica in Northern Kosovo was in political turmoil by the time Blerina was born. The Balkans region was being fought over by various factions and people were going through hard times.
Her father had to find a way to pull the family through the chaos and uncertainty—he had to put food on the table. A true businessman, he eventually realized that people were always in need of electrical equipment and materials. So he opened up a store with these kinds of products, and soon steady business began rolling in.
Blerina was always fond of art.
“I loved to draw and paint, and sometimes my friend would come over and we would do it all together ”. However, my father always talked to me about business and how to do finances,” she recalled.
Thus, the shop would become another source of comfort in her early life and adolescence. Blerina was taught how to think about money, how to be self-reliant, and how to organize funds to run a real business. All this rubbed off, and soon, she was helping out with the business’s bookkeeping.
Little by little, Blerina started to develop a real interest in finance. Not just the numbers and calculations, but also about how money helps run people’s lives and enterprises. This interest carried into her studies, as she applied for the University of Prishtina, about 25 miles South of her home in Mitrovica. She was accepted and decided to do a degree in finance. It was some of the best years of her life.
“I met so many people there, and it really opened my eyes,” she said. “I remember one course in particular, about international finance, which really interested me, because it was also about how other countries and cultures dealt with money in a more connected world.”
She finished her studies in 2017 and started to look for work. By now, Blerina wasn’t just proficient with numbers and bookkeeping. She also had a growing hunger to see the world, thanks to her academic background in international finance.
“I wanted to see other cultures, to interact with people, to see how they dealt with their businesses and their handling of money to run those businesses.”
But her global ambitions were stalled as Kosovo’s economy slowed down. After over a year working in a relative’s small business as a bookkeeper, she realized that she wanted something different as she said: “ I wanted to work for a bigger company that had a global reach”
She was really struggling until one day, while browsing her social media, Blerina got a direct message from her cousin. It was something about working in the finance department of a tech company called Cydeo, and then without hesitation, believing in herself and also in her background, she applied as she said: “I applied, but I didn’t expect to hear back”. So she had the first interview.
“I was so stressed,” she recalled, “I had no idea what to expect.”
During the meeting, Cydeo representatives immediately put her at ease. They asked her about her interest in finance, and Blerina realized that she had a chance to finally work for a truly international company. Clients came from all over the world, and so did those working in the company.
“I was really delighted when they called me back for another interview, and this time I was way less nervous,” she happily recalled. “I was really impressed with just how easy it was to talk to the people at Cydeo, they were so chill, so good at making me feel comfortable.”
Unsurprisingly, she got the job. As a financial specialist dealing with accounts receivable, Blerina comes into contact with a lot of the students who pay tuition for Cydeo’s courses and programs on coding and other IT subjects.
She realized that she was finally getting in contact with different people from all around the world. She was finally getting to connect with others and cultures through her work.
“I absolutely love it. The work is amazing, the people are so easy to get along with, and our managers understand that we are responsible. There is no micromanaging.”
Beginning her position at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Blerina had to do most of her work remotely and from home. Those working with her made the transition seamless.
“And now, with restrictions lifted, I love going into the office too, and my colleagues have become my friends.”
It’s a long way from bookkeeping in her father’s store to the fast paced world of international finance and IT, but Blerina is grateful that she has met people she cherishes along the way.