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You choose your own destiny
Despite coming from a family of doctors, I realized quite early that I do not have the most important quality of a good doctor – the ability and desire to immerse myself in the problems of healthy and sick people. Exact sciences attracted me much more – physics and mathematics, as well as foreign languages. So, in my dreams, I saw myself as a technical translator, who would combine a passion for technology and an interest in the English language. To implement this plan, I enrolled in language courses at the Faculty of Linguistics of the National Technical University of Ukraine.
Every month I would travel from my small town to Kyiv for classes, and I quickly realized that I wanted to only study here. Especially since my friend who was a year older had already studied at university and lived a bright and dynamic student life. Therefore, I decided to go to math courses, which became a kind of tutoring for me. As a result, even before the final exams at school, I, according to the points scored, already passed the Faculty of Heat and Power Engineering. If I failed the Linguistics exam, the results, which were enough for the heating system, would be automatically annulled.
Therefore, I decided not to risk in vain, especially since after obtaining a bachelor’s degree, there was an opportunity to enter the evening department of linguistics. So, I decided that I wanted to be a heat engineer. As a result, I graduated with a medal from school, already actually having a student ticket in my pocket.
I am very grateful to my parents, who did not put any pressure on me, but said to me: “You choose your destiny by yourself!” I had to make an important decision on my own about choosing a future profession and rely only on my strengths and abilities. After all, behind me, I did not have a “golden parachute” from my parents, who would pay for my journey of searching for myself. Everything was in my hands.
A promising path in energy
Of course, at that time I did not yet understand what profession I was choosing. And even came up with a joke that in the future I will be the boiler house director. However, it quickly became clear that this was a very promising business direction because it included alternative energy sources, for which there was a great future. Therefore, during the entire period of study and then work, I was never disappointed in my choice. I was not embarrassed by the fact that I found myself in one of the most “male” faculties of the university. Not to mention, of the five floors of our dormitory, only one was occupied by girls.
More opportunities for professional growth and career promotion
I wanted to build a career in an international company, where my knowledge of English would be needed. In addition, there was a clear understanding that a large corporation has more opportunities for professional growth and career-building than any domestic company. I was happy when I had the opportunity to start working at Schneider Electric as a marketing assistant where I had worked for two years. And when the company announced a new position of product manager for cable laying and cable organization, I eagerly applied. To do this, in just a month I studied all the available information and catalogs. Unfortunately, this position was given to an external candidate. The situation upset me to tears because morally I was not ready to lose – I spent so much energy and emotions to prepare for it. But then three weeks later, the position of product manager for electrical systems (sockets, switches, etc.) became vacant in the same department, and I was offered it without competition. The paradox is that over time, these two areas have been combined into one product offering. My former competitor left and I was offered the position I had dreamed of from the beginning.
Today I can say with confidence that my work at Schneider Electric is a great success both in terms of improving professional skills and knowledge, and belonging to unique corporate culture.
The company’s social mission motivates and inspires
Even before coming to the company, studying information about it, I paid attention to Schneider Electric’s global mission and its corporate social responsibility projects. This was another plus in favor of my choice of employer.
The company’s social mission motivates and inspires each of us, involving the staff in our volunteer programs and charity events. Thus, as part of the participation in the project of construction of the Dacha Center – a big house in Kyiv for cohabitation of children with cancer and their parents living together, our department provided the builders with safe electrical accessories for children.
In addition, we recently sent our equipment to modernize another iconic facility – the Ukrainian Antarctic station “Academic Vernadsky”. We learned that Schneider Electric switches were purchased for the station needs, and decided to give the polar explorers the modular electrical equipment needed for the water treatment plant modernization.
For me, there are no women’s or men’s duties – I can handle any task
The habit of dividing professions on a gender basis is inherent in the older generation. For my peers, this discourse simply does not exist. For me personally, there are no “women’s” or “men’s” duties because I can handle any task – from installing a socket or switch to launching a new product to market. At first, when colleagues in the department offered me help, I refused because I wanted to prove to everyone that I am not only an easy-going woman but also a great specialist. But today, when I no longer need to prove anything, I like the friendly support of male colleagues who help assemble the stand to save my manicure.
It seems to me that, in general, Ukrainian men are ready to treat women on an equal footing – without excessive care and doubts about their competencies. I can remember my first presentation as a product manager in the company. For me, it was a serious challenge, because I had to present in front of experienced professional electricians. Despite the excitement, the presentation went well, although at first, I was asked a few lenient questions. But as soon as I demonstrated my competence, the audience in the conference hall immediately warmed up and accepted me into their circle.
There are no barriers for women at Schneider Electric. Our company does not discriminate based on age, gender, race, ethnicity, or disability.
There is no routine where new interests and challenges constantly appear
The most important thing for me is that for eight years I have been coming to Schneider Electric every morning with the desire to work. After all, there is no routine where new products, challenging tasks, bold innovations, and advanced technologies are constantly emerging.
Launching a new product on the market is a task that must be solved every time from scratch because trends in marketing are changing very rapidly. This work requires constant improvement of knowledge, skills, and abilities. This motivation gives me confidence that I can successfully develop further. And maybe one day I will become CEO.
Look for sources to recharge your energy batteries
Each day I start with the obligatory ritual – morning exercise. Sport is the best energy battery for me because after exercising for at least 10 minutes, you run to work as fully charged as possible. And in the evening, I always relax and relieve fatigue by taking a bath.
But the most important source of energy that gives me the maximum charge of vitality is travel. Before the pandemic started, my husband and I traveled almost every month. Interestingly, our last trip abroad took place on March 8, 2020. We went to Tenerife for 5 days, and when I returned to the office, I was simply not allowed to enter because the quarantine had already begun. At that moment, I just could not understand what was happening.
But, despite the fact that the lockdown has dragged on, you can always find an interesting adventure in the country. For example, this year we could not visit my favorite city, where my husband and I traditionally come for each anniversary. That’s why we found a restaurant in Kyiv called “Amsterdam” and thus continued our family tradition. I hope that soon we will be able to travel again and immerse ourselves in architecture, visiting museums and galleries. Sightseeing always inspires me for new projects in Ukraine.
Take small steps to the dream
What can I advise women who choose the so-called “male” professions today and strive for success? I do not have a clear formula for how to go this way quickly and without mistakes. One thing I know for sure – you need to be confident in your choice. Of course, much depends on luck and fortune. But it is important to see the goal, to be able to find a common language with people and to step steadily toward your dream.
Take the steps to your dream and start a meaningful career at Schneider Electric! Look for opportunities to grow and develop here: www.se.com/careers
Natalia Liashenko, Director of the Home & Distribution department of Schneider Electric Ukraine
Original Text by Natalia Kiryanova, member of the National Union of Journalists of Ukraine, author of articles and interviews for Forbes Ukraine, Novy Chas, Focus, Korrespondent, Groshi, and the independent business portal M! Sun. Photos by Natalia Zakhariy