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After nearly 15 years of studying and working in the United Kingdom and Denmark, Jehona has returned to her native Kosovo* to start up TOKA – an organisation that aims to improve Kosovan society by investing in the education of its youth.
Armed with professional skills and qualities, Jehona shares the nature of her personal and professional advancement attained while residing in the two western European countries.
“The greatest benefit I have gained from my time abroad has been my education. In the UK, they primarily teach you how to think critically,” she says.
Jehona holds BSc and MSc degrees from the London School of Economics and Political Science. She explains that the education she attained abroad has taught her the important process of breaking down a question into smaller parts, conducting research using multiple sources, contrasting the different evidence and arguments, which ultimately results in a worthwhile conclusion.
“I have learned how to tackle an unknown question or situation. And that is the best gift you can have in a fast-changing world, where knowledge becomes obsolete fast – but knowing how to learn never does,” she says.
Jehona brings back a lot of talent and skills to her place of origin. Before returning to Kosovo she acquired valuable experience as Director of product marketing at an Expedia Inc Company called Egencia, and as Executive Director of the Oxford Leadership Academy.
Today, as Executive Director of TOKA, Jehona’s role is ensuring that this successful organization makes the greatest impact on the largest number of youth in Kosovo. This includes defining the strategic plan of the organisation, developing partnerships with key stakeholders and managing the leadership team of the organisation.
But what is it like for Jehona personally, to hold an executive position as a woman?
“For me, being a woman in Kosovo is rarely a factor I think about. I just focus on my goals and do what it takes to achieve them,” she answers.
“I was lucky, because I had parents that were tremendously supportive of my ambitions, and I probably took this for granted earlier in my life. With time, I realised that not everyone is as lucky as me, so now I support and empathise more with women who struggle.”
It seems that precisely these confident leadership skills and decision-making abilities she exemplifies, have been crucial in overcoming the pandemic struggles that so many companies and organizations have faced since the outbreak.
It has taken a lot of flexibility and embracing change within her organization in the face of the COVID-19 outbreak. Even though their main work is based on educating young people through interactive experiences, choosing flexibility and agility has been key.
“The pandemic taught us that you can have very interactive experiences online, as well – you just need to have the commitment to learn, be flexible and adapt,” she says.
Under her leadership, her organization has not lacked results during the pandemic, currently supporting over 30 volunteer clubs across Kosovo, involving some 300 young people weekly through its interactive online programme.
Being an established executive herself, Jehona calls on women in Kosovo to push away self-doubt and reach for their dreams. She stresses the importance of learning new skills, supporting each other, and empowering women to generate their own income.
* References to Kosovo on this website shall be understood to be in the context of Security Council Resolution 1244/1999