ANNA BELOVA ABOUT HOW TO BREAK THROUGH THE GLASS CEILING
Moscow hosted the first Mentor All-Russian Forum. One of its discussion platforms was dedicated to the topic of business mentoring to women. Successful entrepreneurs, leaders of major organisations, and public figures shared their experience and professional recommendations with the forum’s participants. Anna Belova, member of the Expert Council of the Agency for Strategic Initiatives (ASI), scientific supervisor at the Moscow State University's Research Centre for System Transformation.
According to the speaker, the leaders are always formed in complex environments. Often for women these environments are male-dominated professional environments, for example, the field of management where men occupy the majority of positions.
In her career, Anna occupied leadership positions in major organisations several times. For instance, she headed the Moscow representation of the American company ‘Booz Allen & Hamilton’, chaired the transport committee of the American Chamber of Commerce in Moscow, served as Deputy Minister for Railways of the Russian Federation Government for Reforming, Corporate Development, and Informatisation, and help the position of the Director General of Siberian Coal Energy Company (SUEK). During 10 years Anna Belova was in boards of directors of over 25 Russian and international companies.
According to the speaker, career advancement problems of women working in male-dominated professional areas are caused not by discrimination but by underestimation of their own capabilities. Only after believing in oneself, one can break through the glass ceiling.
Anna Belova thinks that women pay more attention to details than men do in their activity. That is why they are more likely to notice some shortcomings.
The speaker recalled and shared a moment when she had been invited to the supervisory board of ‘Intel’. In fact, she was the only woman among heads of major European companies being the members of the board. During one of the presentations, Anna was the only person to mention that all slides depicted men in business suits. There was no single picture of women there. Of course, the authors of the presentation did not do that intentionally. After recalling this story, the speaker expressed her opinion concerning the strong sides of women including special care alongside with their ability to notice the details and focus the business on the right elements.
Today Anna Belova is the scientific director of the Research Center of System's Transformation. She believes that transformations in the modern world including in different organisations are inevitable. In fact, vertical hierarchical structures are less subject to change than horizontal ones. By the way, it is women who most often create horizontal management structures.
“In today's world, women face many serious professional challenges. I truly believe that women can achieve a lot and solve truly global problems. As mentors, we must teach them to believe in themselves and in their abilities”, said Anna Belova.
When interviewed by the EWC journalists, the speaker expressed her opinion on the notion of the word ‘mentor’. According to her, mentor is a person who can share a truly wide range of competencies and knowledge. He or she can help not only from a professional point of view, but also in the formation of a person. In this regard, mentor must be competent in every respect, wise, and experienced.
As for professional mentoring, Anna Belova believes that a mentor should teach their students independently and make decisions quickly and correctly on the basis of logic and general concept of company management. As stressed by the interviewee, unified vision and common understanding of priorities and areas of business development are extremely important in the field mentioned. In her opinion, the mentor should not only solve the problems of his or her student, but also show a certain system for their solution.
At the end of conversation with Anna Belova, we asked her to give advice to the EWC users.
“It is important to choose the priorities for development. In today's management theory, there are many new disciplines. For example, Scrum, according to which one should take decisions step by step when moving forward towards achieving the goal. This means that one should divide one’s path into short sections, the so-called sprints’, and cope with them one after another. I recommend women irrespective of the field of their activity to map their sprints. It is not that easy to predict your distant future. But the nearest future is possible and necessary to be predicted. You just need to know what tasks you have today”, she said.
Viktoria Yezhova, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community
Translated by Nikolay Gavrilov