Introducing Varju Luceno - Director of Communications for the DAISY Consortium
"I strongly believe that all people should have access to information. It is rewarding to contribute to improving technologies that benefit humanity."
I was born and raised in Northeastern Europe, in Estonia to be precise, by parents who encouraged reading, traveling, helping others and creating meaningful relationships. Little did I know where my love of books and travel, and the benevolence my parents had instilled in me would lead.
My Dad enrolled me in an English immersion school when I was six, providing me with an early foundation for the language. My entrepreneurial journey began at the age of 12 - I was selling homegrown apples and potatoes on farmer's market. Even though I was too young to have taken any sales or marketing courses, I realized that I had to have nicer looking apples, clean potatoes and a smile on my face to sell more apples than my neighbor in the adjacent booth. Perhaps this realization came to me naturally.
I graduated with a degree in Library Science from Tallinn University in Estonia and enjoyed a career in Tartu (the second largest city in Estonia) as a reference librarian; I spent my days surrounded by books and information-hungry patrons. It was a 'dream' job - who wouldn't want to get paid for reading newspapers and books, talking to people, and helping them find the information they need. However, there were no books in the library for the people who were blind, and none of those people had guide dogs – these things were a luxury and far too expensive. Things have improved and continue to improve in Estonia and elsewhere. People everywhere are learning that “access to information is a fundamental human right.”
Shortly afterward, I moved from that lovely university town to live on a small farm in a remote area. I was asked to teach English at a local school. There were some very talented students with dyslexia and I discovered that they were able to master new material and grammar rules easier when they read the text and heard the words at the same time. I wish we had had DAISY players in Estonia then; they would have made a huge difference to those young students.
My life has been filled with challenges. One of these included a stint translating for missionaries and business people who found their way to Estonia in the 90s - language and words continued to be an important part of my life. As for my apparently inherent marketing skills, my brother and I opened a restaurant that catered to international groups. I became the Marketing Manager, and he managed day-to-day operations.
I met my husband in Northern Ireland while serving on an international youth project. He convinced me to move to the United States. As it turned out, I had to reinvent my life once again.
While working for a local printing company I became acquainted with the business scene in Missoula. Although I enjoyed the work, I wanted to learn new technologies, graphic, and web design and further my education. I graduated from the University of Montana MBA program. After working for a bank advising business customers, I followed my dream and started a virtual marketing support services company in 2006.
I am also a mother, traveler and an information junkie!