Interview

Olga Volkova

Country Manager – Russia, Belarus and Ukraine

Olga Volkova

Quick Facts
Russian
Joined Tenaris in March 2007

Interview published: January 2013

Olga Volkova joined Tenaris almost six years ago. As her career developed, she moved to France and then returned to Moscow to accept a position of Country Manager. Her new responsibilities imply working in a market mostly occupied by men and embracing a challenge when it comes to her personal life.

What did you find appealing about working in Tenaris? 
All my previous jobs were in big international companies of the oil and gas sector, so I knew I wanted to continue in the industry. What made me choose Tenaris is that it gave me the chance to try myself in a different area. I gained a lot of experience on the buyer’s side within international Oil&Gas companies and I really wanted the opportunity to know better the insights of manufacturers’ business. When I heard that a position was available in Tenaris I immediately applied. Now that I have been working here for six years I can say that I really enjoy what I do. What’s important for me is to be in love with the job and take it to perfection. Tenaris is the best place to do it because it is a very demanding and efficient company. Besides, people who work hard and are committed to their work can really grow in many ways and build a good career.

What is it like to have worked in both France and Russia?
I have plenty of international experience so it wasn’t difficult to get used to France. I decided to go to Paris to follow my husband. He was offered a position there by the French company he worked for, and when I told my boss that I was leaving Russia he suggested that I could continue working for Tenaris in France. I gladly accepted. Going back to Russia was a different story. Tenaris asked me to lead the Moscow office. Accepting the position was very difficult because it implied that my daughter and I would live away from my husband. However, we decided to face the challenge and organized a detailed schedule that allows us to see each other every month.

Is it difficult to find an appropriate work-life balance?
I have a difficult schedule because the business requires so. There are different time zones in the regions that fall under my responsibility so I have an extended working day and I must travel a lot. That’s why I spend every single one of my weekends and my holidays with my daughter and we share as much time as we can together. I wouldn’t say that my job gets on the way of my personal life. It’s quite the contrary. I know that my daughter is proud of her mother and my husband has always supported me in what I do, because he is convinced that a woman should develop herself and be successful and happy in what she is doing.

How do you manage communications with customers? 
People are different from each other but we are all human beings. There are certainly cultural features that you should be aware of, respect and use in your communications. As a sales person, you must find the personal interest of each individual and try to connect. We all have a common goal so it helps to understand what customers need and how to provide it.

How does it feel to be a woman in a market used to dealing with men? 
In my country 99% of the people I meet for work are men, the majority of them are older than me. There is a tendency to see a growing number of women but not at the higher levels. Being a woman, and especially young woman in the oil and gas sector is challenging but there are advantages too. I would say that for me it’s easier to have a first meeting with the client, but when the second meeting comes, I need to be convincing and show with more emphasis that I know the market, that I can help and that I am reliable. Tough negotiations are especially hard because in the environment I work, it is sometimes easier to say “Ok” to a man than to a young woman. On the other hand, people are more patient and polite with me than with men. But the fact that I have been on this market for more than 10 years helps a lot. And the most important factor is trust; if I promised something I have to deliver, otherwise it will be very difficult to get a second chance. 

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