Belgrade, April 11, 2015 – When I registered my own Communications agency on April 11, 2005, I knew I had everything an entrepreneur needs – original ideas, the know-how and stamina. I enjoyed the support of my family – my mother and husband both gave their time and experience, and my children – then in their teen years – acquired so many skills along the way that they have since become remarkable resources. Other relatives and friends also supported my vision, so much so that some invested money in it (not a common behaviour in this part of the world).
My vision was to provide world-class info products and services. I wanted to help introduce international standards of quality into the Serbian market, which had lost step with the world during the nineties. This could just as easily be achieved on small-scale, low-risk projects, but those were never my cup of tea.
The first project Compass Communications undertook was a gruelling publishing and knowledge management race – to translate, localize and prepare for print a 16-volume illustrated encyclopedia, in little over six months. Our team of translators, editors, designers, topic experts, researchers, programmers, proofreaders and coordinators managed to process more than 5000 articles and over 12.000 images, in time and within budget.
We even updated many of the facts which had changed since Dorling Kindersley published the original Millenium Encyclopedia. The volumes were sold weekly, via the news stands in Montenegro, as of December 2005.
When Skype made available one of the earliest options for delivering open live trainings for large groups, in summer of 2008, Compass was the first one to offer completely open synchronous online education in Serbian, free of charge.
This has slowly transformed into a long series of monthly webinars, which I hosted on DimDim, up until December 2010. Some of those e-learning sessions are still available as recordings on SlideShare.
The concept of capacity development has proven its value beyond its natural “habitat”, as a tool for reinventing businesses (and not just publicly funded organizations) when a traditional legal & financial speciality publisher from Belgrade invested three months to learn how to do e-learning. Almost their entire staff attended an intense tailor-made program, starting with a training needs assessment, through daily training sessions and practical exercises, and ending with three sold-out live webinars, final testing and reporting. The company is now a cutting-edge electronic publisher, fully confident in its innovative approach to its core business.
Other projects that Compass Communications offered during this decade were multilingual websites, translations and a whole lot of face-to-face trainings for businesses, NGO’s and local public administrations.
Certain rules have applied from the start: the client list cannot include Serbian political parties and businesses that do their bidding or controversial businessmen (a.k.a. tycoons), their companies and subsidiaries. Furthermore, all our business partners and suppliers must be equally careful about whom they work with. (In other words, Mission Near-Impossible in Serbia.)
Looking back, am I happy with the results? To be perfectly honest, I am proud that the agency didn’t go under, like so many small businesses in contemporary Serbia. The fact that it lasted a whole decade and endured the global financial crises, as well as some major setbacks on the personal side, is in itself an achievement.