Leaders First is proud to continue ‘Women in Leadership’ – a series of interviews with female entrepreneurs among Premium Members of Leaders First. We interview female leaders who run their businesses or at the top of their field in their respective industries. They share their experience and advice as well as insights that can help other leaders to unleash their potential and to grow. This week we are glad to present to you Kristina Babina, Founder of TotUP daycares and primary school, TotUP family sport center and beauty salon, Artishow Bar/ Art Gallery.
Kristina, tell us about your company and your role? What is your favourite thing about your job?
My major business is preschool and primary education for children. I have opened a chain of private bilingual kindergartens and now also looking forward to franchising the unique concept of TotUP (Test, Observe, Thrill, Unravel, Progress). What I love the most about my job are smiles on faces of children and their parents. I really like the fact that my business does not only have the financial reward but also creates a real social value. Development of children is the best thing to observe.
How did you get into it? Please tell us some details in your career path and progression including bumps in the road if there were any.
My master thesis that won the best master award of Switzerland was on the subject of preschool education. After having a couple of friends giving birth to children, I saw the real demand as Switzerland’s public system does not have the necessary amount of paces and those available allow very little development for children. That is how the idea came to my mind and why I chose this specific subject for my Master thesis. After that it took me almost three long years of work at 200% to be able to go through the administration hell and finally be able to open the first kindergarten in Geneva.
Did you always know where you wanted to be?
Coming from the family of two wonderful entrepreneurs; I always knew that I wanted to be just like my parents. I was always happy to spend time with kids and teach them different things. When I was about 16 years old, I knew for sure that I would love to create a fun environment for children! That’s what TotUP represents!
What is your leadership style? And how did you find out about it?
I believe that a good leader cannot have just one leadership style and should be able to switch between them according to different situations. What I can definitely confirm, is that my favourite style is leading by example. I find that this style of leadership is one of the most efficient, however, in my day-to-day business I do need to use the coaching style and even be authoritative from time to time.
What skills someone entering your industry now should focus on improving?
The industry of preschool education is extremely complicated as it is heavily regulated by administration, so if one would want to join the industry he or she should definitely need to work on patience and negotiation skills.
What makes a good team leader/manager?
I strongly believe that a good leader is the one that knows how to delegate the right things to the right people.
What do you think is causing the lack of diversity in top leadership? Why are women not rising to the top?
I believe that for some women it is quite complicated to manage family and business life and often they themselves decide not to go forward. Also, depending on the countries the system for preschool child care is not developed enough to allow women to actually combine family and business. I do believe though that if one really wants to achieve they definitely can!
What do you think we should change in order for women to feel more encouraged to become leaders?
Better childcare systems, fair opportunities and more training & psychological support to women.
You are a confident leader; how did you develop this? Did you learn anything from anyone or had any particular experience, training which helped you to get the confident voice you have now?
I have learned a lot from my parents, specifically my mother, as my father passed away when I was five. I also really appreciated the High-Performance Leadership course of IMD, where I have discovered absolutely wonderful professors and very interesting materials on self-understanding and negotiations.
How important is it in your profession to have a trusted business network and continuous learning?
I believe that for any industry and profession a trusted business network and continuous learning is super important for success. A leader who believes that he or she already knows everything should quit, as not wanting to learn more and change is the worst thing that a leader can do!
Why did you decide to join Leaders First as a Premium Member?
I believe that new experiences are always great and I would love to share what I know and learn from others.
What is one thing in your life that you are most proud of?
I am proud of the fact that my family and friends are proud of me!