Daria Nemchonok is a true global woman. Global, yet ours. Although she was born in Ukraine, she has been living in Croatia for 15 years now, and as she says, she has found her home here. And no, these are not the only countries that have influenced her as a person and a professional. There is a whole series of countries. She has faced challenges both in her professional and personal life, and today, she is the manager and co-founder of LeverUP Consulting, a company made up of a team of specialists in CRM – customer relationship management system implementation.
When you’re a woman, it’s like you’re constantly being tested
LeverUP Consulting is an official partner of Salesforce, and Daria is the only Salesforce Marketing Cloud Champion in the region. From the very beginning, she has focused on business digitalization, CRM systems, and business process analysis. She has been working with the Salesforce platform for the past eight years and has obtained 11 of their certifications. However, despite her knowledge and experience, LeverUP came into her life relatively late, all because of her scepticism.
“That’s why I say that men dominate this industry; they doubt less and are more decisive. An average man in my position would have done this much earlier,” she asserts.
Being a woman in a profession dominated by men is one of the challenges she faced on her career path. According to her, when it comes to technical matters on projects, a woman must prove not that she is good but that she is better.
“When you’re a woman, it’s like you’re constantly being tested. You have to be organized right away, or else people look at you differently. You can’t look messy, tired, or be yourself. In the first hour or at the first two meetings, you have to prove that you know your job,” she explains.
Today, almost 50 per cent of her team are women, and she claims that there is no stronger team in this domain in Croatia. “We have many talented girls. If you don’t focus on gender, they will come to you themselves.” She emphasizes that Salesforce does everything in its power to promote progress for women. “They believe that business is the best platform for change, and equality is not an empty word for them.”
From two to 30 employees in two years
When she took the first step towards LeverUP, everything progressed very quickly. In May 2021, her company had two employees; today, just two years later, it counts 30. They approach clients with a human touch, professionalism, and 100 per cent care. “We have a great atmosphere and team; we operate in multiple countries, yet we are all here,” says Daria, listing the countries they are present in – Denmark, Germany, France, UK, USA, and even some African countries.
The question of where she is from or how one gentleman asked her: “Where are you from, little girl,” makes her confused. She has lived in Ukraine, Russia, and Croatia – in Zadar and Zagreb. She has also worked in Germany, France, the UK, and the USA. She has a rich “geographic history” behind her. She visited Croatia as a tourist and then moved here in 2008. Although she occasionally encounters stereotypes, from remarks like “Isn’t it too hot for you? You are from the north after all,” to questions like “Why isn’t your husband from here,” Daria states:
“I found my home here, and no, I don’t feel like a foreigner.”
All those experiences shaped her as a professional and person; however, she emphasizes that Croatia is precisely her home, and she hopes there will be no more changes. Originally from Kharkiv, Ukraine, she came to Moscow to study public administration at Lomonosov Moscow State University. Although she enjoyed her student days in Moscow, she realised she wanted to live elsewhere after finishing college.
For 15 years, she was a foreigner
Thanks to all these locations, she has witnessed different styles of running companies and organizing work, which is why she now has a “broad” perspective. As she says, for 15 years, she found herself as a foreigner somewhere and had to adjust to a new culture and environment. Nevertheless, this positively impacted her – she no longer has a “template” in her mind, she knows that everyone is different, and that doesn’t mean something is wrong; she always sees a solution where others see a problem. “I never judge, and I look at everything with open eyes. It also helps in business,” she explains.
She also applies this approach in building her team. As she says, “Come as you are” – she is not interested in gender, family status, any tattoos, or even the conventional CV. The relationship and motivation are more important to her than mere skills, and it is crucial to her that employees share her vision, attitudes, and plans because they are the ones who will take over some of her functions. She wants the team to have a “one for all, all for one” spirit.
“If someone has a problem or doesn’t know something, they raise their hand, and the rest of us come to help. That’s how the client feels secure. It doesn’t matter that the task’s name is assigned to one person; the team will step in when needed,” Daria emphasizes.
With the challenges that ultimately shaped her, she also faced them personally. She became a mother for the first time when she graduated at 22 years old, and shortly after her child’s birth, she got divorced. “It wasn’t easy to be a single mother at that age.” Shortly after giving birth, she returned to work, and her parents cared for her daughter.
“I commuted to work 120 km from Moscow, returned every Friday after work, and left again on Monday morning to work. That went on for two years, and then my daughter and I lived together in Moscow. Everyone thought I would leave the child with my parents forever, and that’s when I learned I don’t have to listen to what others say about me. I have my path. My daughter and I have a great relationship today. And she always had a mother, even those first two years,” recalls Daria, who will soon become the mother of a baby boy.
As she jokes, a new challenge awaits her: being a slightly older mother. She encounters questions like, “What will happen to the company now that you will be gone?” “Why would I disappear?” Daria wonders.
“They ask me this, men from other companies, whose wives I know are pregnant. And then I ask them, will they disappear too? After all, their wives are pregnant too.”
She believes that no good crisis in life should pass in vain, and her challenges taught her to learn quickly.
“I don’t consider myself the smartest person; I know my limitations precisely. I know where I am strong but also where I need people I can rely on. And everyone on the team can tell me where I made a mistake. I have no prejudice about that. I respect the knowledge, experiences, and opinions of others,” concludes Daria.
This article was initially published by Women In Adria.
Photos: Domagoj Bregant