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INTERVIEWMichaela McClelland

Michaela has been with the Javorina team as Sales Director for Slovakia and abroad for 7 months now. Prior to joining Javorina, she worked for almost 10 years in sales roles for brands such as Swarovski and Preciosa, in the Middle East, India and Austria. She ran the world's highest half marathon in the Himalayan city of Ladakh and is now training for the Ironman 70.3 triathlon.

How did you spend your time as a child and how does that translate into your work today? What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?

I spent a lot of time with my grandma and grandpa at the cottage when I was a kid. Like all the grandchildren, I had a little field set aside where we could do whatever we wanted, so we didn't ruin my grandfather's beautiful English lawn. I grew vegetables. I enjoyed seeing something grow, and I enjoyed even more that the vegetables could be eaten. I still remember that huge carrot in my first season.

So you could say that since I was a kid, I've loved to grow and cultivate. This has stayed with me to this day in my professional sphere, where I have been involved in international business development for almost two decades.

What do you consider to be your biggest success so far?

If this question was asked to a 10 years younger me, I would talk about successful execution of contracts, turnover and profitability, and I would add in a big project from the Middle East.

Today, however, I consider it a success to be surrounded by the right people in and out of work, who share common values and goals, and who are with us not only during times of success, but also during times of challenge and overcoming obstacles. We have a very strong team at Javorina and I am extremely happy to be a part of it.

How did you get to Javorina? How did the job offer appeal to you?

I knew Javorina as a unique Slovak company that produces beautiful solid wood furniture. For me it was and is a lovebrand. I had worked for foreign companies all my life and when I saw the job offer Javorina had online, suddenly my inner compass kicked in and told me that this was the right direction. I didn't hesitate and sent in my cover letter and resume.

When the owner, Peter Rokusek, called me after our interview to tell me that I had been offered the position, I had an indescribable feeling of joy and inner gratitude that I had the opportunity to contribute my experience to a local company and support its development not only in Slovakia, but also abroad.

How does the foreign order of Javorina furniture work?

One of the most interesting phases takes place before the order itself, namely the acquisition of the customer who will become our permanent business partner or loyal end customer. Abroad, we are now focusing on acquiring new B2B partners, especially lifestyle showrooms. We select them based on their position in the market, their collaboration with other brands, their reach to architects and designers, and last but not least, whether they belong to the premium segment.

How do you manage time-management?

In the ideal world of time management theory, I try to work in a way that keeps me focused on priority goals. I'll be honest, I don't always manage it, but I try to go by my compass and continually evaluate what's really important. I like unexpected challenges that sometimes throw off that compass, but at work I am surrounded by great colleagues and feel very supported by them, which helps immensely in keeping me focused on our business goals and priorities.

To "give it my all" as they say, the alpha and omega for me is getting enough sleep. I have an absolutely uncompromising motto here: "Under 8 hours, no train goes."

Is there an interesting story or tale that. Have you experienced with Javorina?

What really makes a person happy is to experience our phenomenon of customers who return repeatedly and lovingly to expand their collection of Javorina furniture. This is undoubtedly a generational credit to all those who have built and continue to build Javorina for over 76 years.

I love the production, which is now undergoing a huge transformation that will take us technologically to an international level. But it will also always be based on people who understand wood and under their hands the design literally comes to life. This unique combination of technology in the form of amazingly crafted wood with the human element writes the incredible story of Javorina, which our customers can feel and appreciate from our furniture.

How do you relax?

I relax in an active way because it fulfills me inside.After returning to Slovakia, I decided to change the way I spend my free time. I wanted to dedicate it first of all to my secret wish, which I thought I would never be able to do.

I have been training for my first 70.3 Ironman for a year now. It gives me incredible focus, discipline, and pushes my personal limits, especially the mental ones. I'm no athlete, after all. I really enjoy breaking down preconceived notions in this way about whether a person has the aptitude for a given sport or whatever society has somehow screwed up for only a "certain" group of people.

At the same time, I secretly hope that the women in my inner circle will gain the inner courage to go after their dreams, whatever they may be, despite their personal prejudices, their surroundings or life's obstacles.

What is your favourite book/documentary/podcast?

Of the books, my favourite is Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. It's an adventure book about a thief who escapes from an Australian prison to India, where he starts a new life in a Mumbai slum. It's a book about new beginnings, friendship, love, but most of all it's a phenomenal description of my favourite city in India - Mumbai, where I worked and lived at one stage of my life.

My great passion in life is cooking and discovering new recipes. I am currently cooking out of nostalgia from the book Beirut Cooks by Pascale Habis, which contains amazing homemade Lebanese recipes. I also now often reach for The Noma Guide to Fermentation by Rene Redzepi and David Zilber, because fermenting is alchemy and I enjoy it.

How do you educate yourself?

I really like TED Talks. It's a great source of information on a variety of topics, the spectrum is really wide. Among inspirational personalities, I like Ariana Huffington and our President Zuzana Čaputová.

Podcasts are another huge source of information for me. Since I spend a lot of time in the car, I listen to a variety of genres. For an overview of international events, I like to listen to BBC Global News, The World in Brief, and The Economist's Intelligence. For a long listen, I like The Guardian Long Read. For kicking back and relaxing, I'm a big fan of Welcome to Night Vale and Overhead by National Geographic.

What's the most beautiful place in the world you've visited so far?

Whenever I've lived somewhere I've had a mantra that I would discover its distinctive beauty, something that makes it unique beyond compare. This has helped me a lot in the more than two decades I've spent abroad, from Britain to the Middle East to India.

I have travelled and seen many beautiful places, but for me the most beautiful thing is the view from my apartment, where I now live and where generations of my family have always lived. It is the view of the birch tree that grows in our park in front of our house. It is a tree that has accompanied me all my life and is a great mental anchor for me.

Michaela, thank you for being interviewed!