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Career Story: Elena Solomatina, Director at VDEL

February 13, 2019

Global Executive MBA alumna

How has your professional career developed so far?

I have grown in a company, owned by my family, from an employee to a director, and finally a president. I also own a small IT company in Russia, established in 2009. Due to family reasons I gave up a top position in the family Russian software company to move forward in my personal and professional development, relocated from Moscow to Vienna, learned a new language, adapted myself and my children to a new culture, and I was ready to expand my horizons further being a Managing Director of a privately owned regional Value Add Distribution company of Services and Software based in Vienna. Furthermore, I decided to enter into an Executive MBA which also led me to start a completely new real estate project.

What stages in your life have had the greatest impact on you?

The first stage was my Father’s death. This suddenly brought me to a leading position in the company for which I was not completely ready and for some time I found myself out of my comfort zone.

The second stage happened when I started feeling comfortable about what I was doing, until my husband and I decided to move to Vienna. Consequently I felt out of a comfort zone once again and what made it even more difficult is that I had to restart my career from the very beginning. That was one of the main reasons that led me to apply for the Global EMBA.

Now I can say that the course was the third stage, and it had the greatest impact on me, since it gave me new opportunities.

Did you originally want to pursue a different career?

Apart from my dream to become a professional dancer when I was a child, and was told not to do so by my parents, I did everything the way I wanted. I enjoy being an entrepreneur, although I think I could work for any company if needed.

How and why did you come to work for VDEL?

I have always worked for companies that are within my family, so it is a simple and a difficult decision at the same time, since you can count only on yourself.

What has changed in your career as a result of your MBA degree?

Many things have changed.

  1. I feel more confident working in an international environment.

  2. I developed my skills and experience gained before to the worldwide environment, and I understand the big picture and the trends world-wide more clearly.

  3. During the course I met absolutely wonderful people that I would not meet otherwise.

  4. The impact of peers, professors and the WU EA team gave me the confidence to start a new project and make it successful.

What was your biggest professional/personal success?

It was not my personal achievement, but I was raised in a nice family that was very big and supportive. So, in a way a perfect team work.

I think it is hard for me to name just one success or the biggest one. It is always a series of events and actions and a bit of luck of course. When you are open-minded, honest to yourself, motivated, curious, active and positive, you can consider it as a success.

What are your goals for the coming year?

Absolutely. This year I want to make a business model of our apartment hotel perfect, so we can replicate it next year. Also, I want to work on my work life balance and start working out again and continue with my German lessons.

I named it 4G:  Go Global, Gym, German, German

What do you consider a “great luxury”?

Family where you grow up is something you don’t choose. Friends are the family you choose. A great luxury for me is to be able to choose who I work/cooperate with. In other words: always to be surrounded by like-minded and nice people.

What was the last book/movie you really enjoyed?

I was personally impressed with a Novel called Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. Also, I am a big fan of Harry Potter saga by J.K.Rowling. I personally like to watch series. One of my favorites is Game of Thrones.

How would you characterize your philosophy of leadership?

My philosophy of leadership is to always adjust it to people that I work with and their personalities, to the stage of project life cycle, to external and internal circumstances and to my own intuition as well. That is why I don’t believe in any particular leadership role-model. It is always a combination of everything mentioned above and a leader’s personality.

How do you recharge your batteries when you are not pursuing your demanding career?

I like just to stay at home, spend some quality time with my family and relax watching TV. Playing tennis is one of the really recharging activities for me as well.

If you could change places with anyone for a day, who would it be?

I am really fine in my own place, but, sometimes, when I feel a bit down or unsatisfied, I think of my dearest friend who became blind at the age of 20 but she has never given up. She enjoys her colorful life every single moment, hence more happily and successfully than countless people with many fewer problems.

Why would you recommend the Global Executive MBA of the WU Executive Academy? What did you like the most?

It is very simple for me to recommend the WU Executive Academy. The program itself is very interesting and covers everything that managers from different industries want to refresh and to learn anew. The average age of 40 and the diversity of the students from different countries around the world make it even more attractive. It is a high-ranking MBA program in the FT ranking, with a extraordinary value for money. Not only the Dean, Barbara Stöttinger, but also the whole team are friendly and qualified people, especially my program manager, who helped me make up my mind about what to study quite quickly. Last but not the least, WU Executive Academy is based in Vienna, officially the most liveable city in the world.

People is what I appreciate the most. I think it is the best place to meet so many nice and interesting people not only during the course but also after the graduation, during all kinds of networking events provided by the WU EA Community for alumni.

Also, I have to mention an amazing Global Team Project experience that I had. The result of it is a successfully running apartment hotel, 4 Beds and More, in Vienna. I talk more about it in this article.

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My motto in life:

Do what you love, love what you do!

I can laugh about:

I can laugh about almost anything, even about myself. I really appreciate when people have a good sense of humor.

Shortcomings I am most likely willing to overlook:

I personally try not to judge people for any shortcomings because we are all different, with different values and weaknesses and there is no standard. What I am trying to do is to work on my own shortcomings, so I would be a more balanced and positive person.

I would spend my last money on:

I wish it never happens that I have to think about it. Last money is a relative thing, so I would spend my last money on whatever is needed most in that particular moment.

In 20 years I will:

Enjoy my life, my age and my children's happiness and success.

Read more interesting career stories of our students and alumni here.

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