Born on Long Island, New York, Lisa moved as a child to Slovenia (at the time, Yugoslavia.) Although she came back to the U.S. to finish her education, she later returned to Slovenia, and started a family.
She speaks five languages: Slovenian, Serbian, Croatian, Russian, and English.
Her father had built a career at Lufthansa and Lisa too began her aviation career there after going through training and a series of tests.
After 22 years in a successful airline career (she became one of the few non-German speaking females to reach an executive position) she moved to an opportunity at Jet Airways, a privately owned Indian airline, and more than six months ago became the USA Country Manager for the award-winning Five Star carrier, Qatar Airways.
You have spent your entire career in the airline business. What are some of the changes you’ve seen in the industry in regards to opportunities for women at all levels?
In the last 10 years there have been enormous opportunities opening up across all facets of the business. While most are traditionally male dominated, there are many interesting roles spanning every side of the business, from political affairs, sales, finance, e-commerce, information technology, marketing, fleet management, flight Operations and the list goes on.
What traits are required to be successful in this industry?
This is an industry that is a 24/7 operation, with aircraft bearing the company’s emblem located in every country at any given moment. This means that a great deal of coordination needs to happen across departments and time zones, and communication and organization is key – and so is cultural sensitivity and awareness.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your industry and in your job?
As a female executive one of the challenges is finding the line to keep things professional while being friendly. I have very high standards and strong work ethics. I’m conservative, but I also need to be flexible and sociable. So it’s finding that line because sometimes friendliness can be misinterpreted.
What do you find the most satisfying part of your work?
The satisfaction I feel is from being a part of one large team that are positioned on every continent that are all driven towards the same goal. Meeting my numbers, meeting my budget, and the goals that are set, also gives me a great sense of achievement.
Give us an example of how you are currently helping other women advance professionally or fulfill their career goals?
I like to conduct one-on-one interviews and regular meetings with everyone reporting to me, so that I get to know my staff better. During these conversations I ask people to tell me their goals. So I always try to incorporate their goals into opportunities and training. I have asked for organizational changes so that some people could be placed in a track that works better for their strengths. I always say, we all spend so much time at work that you have to do a job that you enjoy.
Who are one or more women who have helped you get to where you are today?
One of my secret mentors was a friend of mine at Lufthansa who moved to the banking industry. She did reality checks for me and believed in my strengths and pushed me along. She was my informal mentor.