Top businesswoman given award

  • 2001-11-22
  • Tassos Coulaloglou
VILNIUS - Whether rustling up a skipper or a deck swabber for a ship, or locating a repair crew to plug leaks and lay on a new coat of paint, Roma Juskiene can deliver.

As managing director of the Klaipeda-based shipping agency Techmaris, Juskiene has devoted much of the last few years to meeting the needs of commercial vessels tying up in Lithuanian ports.

And her problem-solving skills have brought her more than a thriving business. She has just been named the first Lithuanian Businesswoman of the Year.

"Women are a rare thing in business, anywhere in the world, but we can do it," said Juskiene, who only found out she was a finalist a few days before receiving the award. "From today on I will have to do more to encourage other women so that next year there will be many more contestants," she said in her acceptance speech.

The award was presented by the Lithuanian Women in Business and Management Society, which was established in 1997 to give women leaders an opportunity to compare their ideas and experiences. The society has 13 chapters throughout Lithuania and more than 200 members.

Alongside the award Juskiene also received an all-expenses-paid trip to Sweden to meet other women leaders and take free English lessons. In her acceptance speech she stressed the significance of such awards and the need for more encouragement for women who decide to become entrepreneurs, or already have existing jobs or businesses.

Far from being an all-Lithuanian affair, the award received major backing from Swedish business people and organizations.

Masterminding the award is Margareta Ling-Vannerus, a Stockholm city councilor and board member at the Association of Swedish Business and Professional Women, who has run an identical program in Estonia for the last nine years.

"It's a chance for women to find a business role model, and so far in Estonia it has been a terrific success," Ling-Vannerus said. "I believe we are having the same success in Lithuania, and you can see it tonight."

Among those who selected Juskiene as woman of the year were representatives of 30 non-governmental agencies, customers riding in Vilnius taxis and employees at Svedbergs, a Swedish company which produces bathroom fixtures. Ling-Vannerus also said that plans were already in the works for the second annual award.

Organizers are hoping to bring 40 U.S. business and political leaders to attend a series of working seminars where women from both countries can network and exchange ideas.