Resilience in Action: The Entrepreneurial Journey of Milena Radakovic

Milena Radakovic is not just an entrepreneur; she is a living testament to the power of resilience and determination. Hailing from Belarus and immigrating to Canada in 1979, Milena faced the trials of adapting to a new culture, language, and overcoming bullying. Guided by the values of diligence and unwavering perseverance instilled by her immigrant parents, she rose through the corporate ranks, reaching the pinnacle as the VP of Marketing for RS Technologies. However, her journey didn’t stop there; Milena ventured into entrepreneurship, establishing a consulting firm and later acquiring Nexus Exhibits in 2013. Balancing the roles of a mother and a business leader, Milena remains committed to community service, exemplifying the essence of a resilient leader. We at CIO Global, are proud to introduce Milena Radakovic as one of Promising Women Entrepreneurs to Watch in 2024.

Milena’s entrepreneurial spirit ignited with the establishment of a Marketing Consulting firm. Driven by her passion for supporting Small & Medium-sized businesses, she crafted tailored marketing strategies to propel her clients toward growth. Despite setbacks, including the closure of her business in 2010, fate led her to Nexus Exhibits, where a serendipitous encounter with a headhunter changed the course of her journey. In 2013, Milena acquired Nexus Exhibits, marking a pivotal moment in her entrepreneurial narrative. Nexus Exhibits, since 1979, has been a beacon in providing captivating displays to enhance companies’ images. Their turnkey solutions, spanning from award-winning design to augmented reality experiences, redefine how brands communicate. From exhibits and displays to branded apparel and promotional swag, Nexus Exhibits takes charge of every aspect, ensuring a seamless representation of corporate brands in various environments.

As a woman entrepreneur, Milena faced gender biases, limited access to funding, and resource constraints. Yet, armed with resilience, determination, and creativity, she overcame these challenges. Seeking mentorship, building a support network, and advocating for her ideas, Milena turned obstacles into stepping stones for growth. Her commitment to excellence shattered societal norms, leading her to success in the competitive entrepreneurial landscape. Milena’s approach to navigating business obstacles is a testament to her adaptability and tenacity. Drawing from her immigrant experience, she embraces change, sees challenges as opportunities, and remains open to diverse perspectives. A solution-oriented mindset, coupled with a strong support network, has been her key to overcoming complexities in the business world. Through perseverance and learning from setbacks, Milena has carved a path toward success, leaving an indelible mark on the entrepreneurial landscape.

“The key to success lies in embracing challenges, nurturing resilience, and leading with unwavering passion.” – Milena Radakovic

As the President and CEO of Nexus Exhibits, Milena Radakovic has steered the company towards a comprehensive and integrated approach to visual branding. Since acquiring the company in 2013, her vision has been to provide clients with a one-stop experience for all their visual branding needs. Nexus Exhibits, once a full-service exhibit house, now boasts three divisions. The addition of ‘Nexus Décor’ in response to clients’ environmental branding needs and ‘Essentials’ in 2019, offering branded promotional products, has transformed Nexus Exhibits into a fully integrated turnkey solution for all branding requirements. Through imaginative solutions and skillful craftsmanship, Nexus Exhibits aims to elevate its clients’ brand experience, engaging customers and energizing sales.

Milena’s leadership style is as dynamic as the business she runs. With a strong emphasis on teamwork, Nexus Exhibits operates as a tight-knit family, supporting each other personally and professionally. Open and honest communication is the company’s guiding motto, fostering an environment where challenges are faced together. Milena’s open-door policy and her commitment to helping her team be their best, both inside and outside the company walls, create a workplace that thrives on collaboration, creativity, and mutual support. Milena’s journey from struggle to success has fueled her commitment to giving back. She played a pivotal role in starting the Calgary Chapter of the Women in Leadership Foundation (WIL), contributing to the advancement of women in leadership roles. Serving as the WIL Ambassador, she mentored young women aspiring for success in the business world. Milena’s involvement with OWIT and her role as the Canadian Ambassador to Women Entrepreneurship Day Organizing reflect her dedication to promoting female presence in international trade and empowering women in business globally.

Notably, Milena initiated the WEDO Canada Foundation, a federally registered Canadian Charity. Under her leadership, the foundation’s mission is to educate, empower, and support future women entrepreneurs by granting one million dollars in scholarships to deserving female post-secondary students across Canada over the next ten years. Milena’s commitment to supporting women in business goes beyond the corporate world, making a lasting impact on the community and the next generation of female entrepreneurs.

“Innovation flourishes in environments where resilience meets determination.” – Milena Radakovic

In a rapidly changing business environment, Milena remains at the forefront of adaptability. She consistently seeks innovative avenues to expand Nexus Exhibits, incorporating new technologies and enhancing personal and professional expertise. Strategic investments in advanced technology, such as a flatbed printer, have not only diversified the product line but also improved production efficiency, elevated quality, and enhanced cost control. Embracing Canadian-made in-house printing has not only supported local suppliers but also led to significant profit increases. Milena’s commitment to environmental sustainability is evident in Nexus Exhibits’ use of eco-friendly UV ink, aligning with the company’s dedication to providing safe working conditions and minimizing environmental impact. Actively engaging with clients to repurpose and recycle existing hardware showcases Nexus Exhibits’ sustainable approach to exhibit design.

Milena Radakovic understands that a strong team is the backbone of success at Nexus Exhibits. To achieve this, she emphasizes a culture of collaboration, empowerment, and continuous growth. Open communication and transparency are paramount, ensuring each team member feels valued and heard. By aligning individual goals with the company’s vision, a sense of purpose and ownership is cultivated. Milena invests in professional development, providing opportunities for skill enhancement to enhance performance and foster loyalty. Celebrating successes and learning from failures collectively builds a supportive and resilient team environment. Through a culture of trust, respect, and accountability, Milena has crafted a cohesive and high-performing team capable of navigating challenges and achieving shared goals.

As an entrepreneur, Milena prioritizes work-life balance through deliberate prioritization and effective time management. Despite the demands of Nexus Exhibits, she commits to nurturing a fulfilling personal life. Attending her daughters’ high-level competitive soccer games is a non-negotiable priority, reflecting her unwavering support for their passions. Regular workouts are incorporated into her routine to prioritize physical and mental well-being, recognizing their importance for sustained productivity and fulfillment. Milena delegates tasks where possible, leverages technology for remote productivity, and sets boundaries to ensure dedicated time for both work and personal pursuits. By fostering a harmonious integration of work and life commitments, she leads by example, demonstrating that success and a rich personal life can coexist.

Advice for Aspiring Women Entrepreneurs:

Drawing from her own experiences, Milena offers invaluable advice to aspiring women entrepreneurs:

  • Embrace Your Passions: Pursue ventures aligned with your interests and values to fuel dedication and resilience.
  • Prioritize Work-Life Integration: Strive for a harmonious balance between professional and personal pursuits for overall well-being.
  • Cultivate Resilience: View setbacks as opportunities for growth and learning, developing resilience to bounce back stronger.
  • Seek Mentorship and Support: Surround yourself with mentors and a supportive network for guidance and encouragement.
  • Embrace Adaptability: Stay agile and open to change, embracing innovation and new opportunities.
  • Invest in Continuous Learning: Commit to ongoing self-improvement through education, development programs, or experiential learning.
  • Build Strong Teams: Assemble a diverse and talented team, fostering a collaborative and inclusive culture.
  • Trust Your Intuition: Listen to your instincts and trust your gut feelings when making decisions.
  • Celebrate Achievements: Acknowledge and celebrate successes, using them as fuel to propel forward.
  • Pay It Forward: Support and empower other women entrepreneurs, creating a positive impact in the entrepreneurial community.

Success is not just about overcoming obstacles; it’s about turning them into stepping stones for growth.” – Milena Radakovic

Future Vision:

Looking ahead, Milena envisions Nexus Exhibits thriving as a dynamic and innovative leader in the exhibition industry. As President and Chief Visionary, she plans to spearhead strategic initiatives to expand market presence and solidify the company’s position as a preferred partner for impactful event experiences. Milena is committed to nurturing the team, empowering them to reach their full potential, and fostering a culture of innovation and excellence. Nexus Exhibits will adapt and evolve, leveraging emerging technologies to deliver cutting-edge solutions that exceed client expectations. With a focus on customer satisfaction, continuous improvement, and sustainable growth, Milena is confident that Nexus Exhibits will remain at the forefront of the industry, driving success for both the business and valued clients. Additionally, Milena takes immense pride in WEDO Canada, the national charity she founded, aiming to support the next generation of women entrepreneurs through education programs and student grants, with a goal of giving out one million dollars in scholarships over the next ten years. The mission extends through annual educational summits and the WEDO Pay it Forward Vodcast, where Milena interviews inspirational women business leaders, creating a platform for empowerment and shared wisdom.

Milena Radakovic’s unwavering commitment to seizing growth opportunities and fostering innovation is steering Nexus Exhibits toward a future where they remain at the forefront of both technological advancement and environmental responsibility. As the journey unfolds, with Milena leading the way, the outlook is undeniably promising for Nexus Exhibits and the positive impact it continues to create in the business world and beyond. Milena’s personal journey stands as a beacon of inspiration, showcasing the transformative power of resilience, determination, and unwavering passion. Her ongoing dedication to empowering excellence serves as a guiding light for aspiring entrepreneurs, particularly women, encouraging them to overcome challenges and carve their own paths to success.