B I B J A N A

 Tirana | 2019

B I B J A N A

City  Tirana
Age  47
Love life Married, two children
Profession Accountant and Financial Manager for a big company
Years in Tirana 18

T H E  T I R A N A  S T O R I E S

‘I LIKE TO

BELIEVE THAT 

MY CHILDREN 

WILL HAVE 

A BETTER LIFE

  • What makes you happy?
    “First and foremost my children’s achievements and wellbeing, but my job gives me positive energy as well. I’ve always loved finance and feel completely satisfied when I achieve a target. I was very lucky that I was picked to study at the Economics Faculty during communism. Back then, you couldn’t choose what you wanted to do with your life, the government decided for you. They picked the ones considered the best ones for the job and if you weren’t in the top 3, you had to go do something else. Now it’s impossible to imagine that back then Albanians didn’t get to choose their own future, but we didn’t know any better.”
  • What is your best personality trait?
    “I’m a hard worker, I always aim to give 100%. I usually start at 8 in the morning and continue until late in the evening. I’m also lucky to be able to react fast and think on my feet, which helps solving difficult situations. It’s not always the easy way I have to choose, but it feels good when I successfully complete a task due to my determination. It’s hard to continuously go through such long days, but when I get home, I feel calm, because I’ve done all I could at work.”
  • What makes you different than other people?
    “I’m confident in what I do. It’s not easy to have so many responsibilities as a Finance Director for such a big company, but I have a lot of experience and knowledge because I’ve been doing it for 25 years now. When I started working in finance in 1993, I didn’t have the slightest idea what it would be like or how things worked outside the classroom. During communism, the educational system was mainly based on theory. I had never seen a real invoice, for example. I had to do everything by myself and learn everything from scratch, but I always achieved my targets and my confidence grew by the day. I wasn’t afraid of any difficulties that came my way, because my work speaks for itself.”
  • What is your biggest disappointment?
    “Accepting the fact that even though I do my best, think things through and try to control the outcome, plans do not always happen the way I intend them to. I’m disappointed that no matter what I do or how hard I try, I cannot give my children all that I think they deserve. For example, for the last 6 years my daughter lived in Europe and Australia for her studies, and even though she has finished her Master’s degree with outstanding results, she’s planning on coming back and starting over because her expectations were not met. My daughter’s disappointment feels like my own, we both invested too much in her career planning. I hope she’ll find it easy to reintegrate as she certainly has the potential, but I’m worrying whether she’ll have enough opportunities in life. It’s my biggest fear that my children won’t have a steady life, job or family.”

  • What is your biggest struggle?
    “Every day it’s difficult to make sure that I pay enough time and attention to my family, because my job is so demanding and time consuming. The time I spend at work I can’t spend with my family. I’m constantly trying to find a balance, but the struggle remains. My family understands that I’m working so hard for their sake, to improve their life and invest in my children’s future.”
  • What is the best advice someone ever gave you?
    “My parents once said, ‘Our soul is complemented by your results’. They told me to never give up and always work hard. I like to believe that my children will have a better life because I work hard. The satisfaction I feel because of that is my biggest reward. My parents also taught me to be a decent, social, empathetic and caring person with discipline and moral principles. For a teenager, life can be confusing, but my siblings and I knew that if we would study hard, we would have better lives and better futures. My mother – who also studied Finance – believed that the only way for women to be respected is to get a degree and gain strength and power by working. In that way a woman has better prospects for a compatible partner and a stable family life. My parents also taught me and my siblings to be professional and ethical at work and to always do the right thing. So we knew better than to get involved in corruption. I’ve tried to use those notions in my own children’s upbringing. I invest just as much in my daughter as my mother invested in me and I try to be a good role model for her. The same goes for my son, but I still believe that for women it remains harder to climb the steps to success. Nowadays my parents are advising me how I can support my children and teach them to be good people.”
  • What advice would you give to other women in Europe?
    “Try to embrace the challenges life hands you. They’ll make you grow up and give you more dignity and independence. When your heart is in it, you can face any challenge and will achieve whatever you want.”
  • Is there anything you regret?
    “After I graduated, I didn’t do my Masters or PhD, but went back to the small town I came from and started to work there. When I came back to Tirana 7 years later, in 1993, I realised that I should have developed myself more, because it was too hard to reintegrate. For many years I had to study besides work, while having a husband and two small children. It would have been much easier if I had done it earlier.”
  • What is your biggest dream or ultimate goal?
    “I feel a need deep in my soul to have my family live together in one place again, and I wish for everyone to be happy with where they are in life and what they are doing. I want my children to be healthy, happy and successful. I would love to see my children achieve great things both academically and culturally, and for my husband and I to enjoy the fruits of our hard work. This is a common wish here in Albania because we have deep and strong family connections. Every parent is focused on giving their children a better life than they had for themselves. I’m already so proud of both my children. It makes me cry that my daughter has won numerable Leaderships and Academic Awards and that my son is graduating high school with amiable results and is ready for a bright future.”
  • What does Tirana mean to you?
    “It’s my home. It’s a beautiful, vibrant and multicultural city full of life, noise and movements. It can also be cluttered, crowded and messy, but I love its imperfections and the possibilities and opportunities it offers. I’m not able to see myself living anywhere else. What I like most is that Tirana gives women more independence. Even the children here are more confident and independent than in other Albanian cities! I think that women in Europe can learn from us to build their families on love and respect rather than religion or race. For Albanians it has never been an issue whether a Muslim girl got engaged with a Christian boy or the other way around. It’s normal. Assuming anything else just complicates life.”

Photos by Bora Dervishi

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