ELITE WOMEN

IN BUSINESS

2021

Anastasia Kuzmenko

Anastasia Kuzmenko, the Group Head of Marketing and Communications at IEC Telecom is responsible for the global marketing strategy and management of brand communications across the Middle East, Asia, and Europe. With more than 25 years of experience, IEC Telecom Group is one of the leading international providers of satellite communications services. It delivers efficient end-to-end voice and data services when and where it matters most. IEC Telecom works with exceptional application partners, satellite operators, and equipment manufacturers to bring customers fully customized communications solutions wherever they do business. The satcom provider offers a diverse portfolio of products and services for various markets, and their value-added services adapt efficiently to ever-evolving client communication requirements. IEC Telecom Group has offices across eight countries: Denmark, France, Kazakhstan, Norway, Singapore, Sweden, Turkey, and UAE.

We sat down with Anastasia Kuzmenko to talk about her journey and how to beat gender stereotypes.

Aspioneer(A): Tell us about IEC Telecom.
Anastasia Kuzmenko(AK): “IEC Telecom’s integrated approach of in-house design and engineering expertise allows us to develop truly unique solutions that enable full control over customer satellite assets. Our portfolio includes a wide range of satellite products (from handset to VSAT services), solutions, and value-added services. In addition, we offer 24/7 support for satellite-based solutions during their full lifecycle.

“We keep you connected beyond limits” is more than a motto; it’s a strategic vision that is deeply rooted in our corporate DNA. We enable digitalization for the maritime industry as well as remote units on land, where GSM coverage is not available. For urban networks, we provide a powerful satellite backup to ensure the business continuity of customer enterprises.”

(A): What inspired you to choose marketing as your profession?
(AK): “I am a classic example of a millennial, whose mindset was shaped by beautiful concepts of globalisation, enabled with the spread of connectivity. I have always wished to be more than a participant; an influencer in this process. Choosing marketing as a profession was my way of joining the stream. Coming across an opening at IEC Telecom, I realised that I can bring my dream one level up. What can be more inspiring than to connect those who are exempt/had limited access to this essential resource? Today, connectivity is more than a means to send a message or call. It is a driver behind telemedicine, remote maintenance, e-learning, and more. From the social perspective, it bridges families & friends who are far apart. From the corporate perspective, connectivity creates efficient professional networks and improves internal processes, leading enterprises to more sustainable and future-ready operations.

Initially, I was invited in the capacity of Regional Marketing Manager for the Middle East. A couple of months after joining, the position of Global Marketing Manager became vacant too. Considering my early days in the company and the fact that I was fairly new to satcom, aiming for a next-level position could have seemed reckless. Well, the country I come from has a saying, “Be ready to risk if you wish to drink champagne”. So, I did and proved this statement right. I presented my case and was accepted for the new role. The following two years were challenging, but worth every step. I was truly blessed to meet wonderful people on my way, willing to share, listen and build together. When speaking of IEC Telecom, I often say “our family” rather than “our team” as this is truly how I felt from day one. Subsequently, in May 2020, I was promoted to the position of Group Head of Marketing, and as such, became the first woman in the history of IEC Telecom to join the board.”

“Stop drawing lines of separation between men and women. The best way to fight inequality is to lead by example. Less words, more action without prejudice.”

(A): What is the greatest risk that you have taken? How do you manage self-doubt and build your inner resilience?
(AK): “I am now pursuing an Executive MBA degree. Combining high-profile learning with a demanding full-time job is similar to balancing on a rope: your focus must remain straight at all times, otherwise, you are as good as dead.

It took me years of contemplation before I felt ready to risk and pursue both ambitions in parallel. Today, I can say with 100% certainty that it was one of the best decisions in my life.

The best way to overcome self-doubt is to keep pushing forward. Do not allow destructive thoughts to take root in your present. Follow Scarlett O'Hara’s advice and “Think of it tomorrow.”

(A): Have you encountered stereotypes or the proverbial glass ceilings? How did you overcome it?
(AK): “In my opinion, stereotypes are an integral part of social behavior. As opposed to fighting them, you may very well use them.

I started my professional journey in Dubai at the age of 23. With 3 years of prior work experience and very few international projects in my portfolio, I set myself a daring target to land a job in one of the top mega-polis cities in the world. “Good luck,” my friends were saying to me with a pinch of sarcasm. Well, luck did find me after all.

I had to withstand many stereotypes at the time, but I soon realized that the only way to overcome them is by embracing and joking about them. As a result, I turned potential obstacles into ice-breakers.”

(A): Does your organization have any policies against gender inequality? How does your organization deal with unconscious bias? (AK): “IEC Telecom employs women in different functions from billing to technical support and from marketing to sales. Since June 29, 2011, IEC Telecom Group has pledged to support the guiding principles of the UN Global Compact initiative. This includes the promotion of value-based corporate ethics, including measures against any display of discrimination at the workplace.”

(A): Apart from work what are the other things you love?
(AK): “I love exploring in all possible ways, but one thing I cherish above all is traveling. I have been to more than 30 counties so far and I have a long wish list to visit. To me, there is nothing more exciting than discovering new cultures in all shapes and forms: history, architecture, art, cuisine… I truly believe that the more we see of this planet, the more humane and enlightened we become. Every nation has its own bit of wisdom to share, each being a small piece of a puzzle to the true picture of this world.

I am very interested in the history of arts. I am particularly passionate about two periods: renaissance and impressionism. Personally, I perceive them as two hands, shaping the school of art: while Botticelli, Davinci & Michelangelo opened the doors to reality and humanism; Monet, Renoir, and Van Gogh animated canvas with feelings and emotions. If I happen to be in Europe, art museums are always on my agenda.”

(A): What are your career goals for the future?
(AK): “The power of IEC Telecom as a brand is growing. In less than 4 years, we scaled our communication solutions from region-by-region to a truly global scale. We have many ambitious plans ahead and I am excited for each upcoming chapter of our brand story.

I wish to further advance in the satcom industry, and hopefully, one day, be in a position to engage industry influencers and jointly bring to life effective ESG projects, serving communities while ensuring the sustainable growth of our business.”

(A): What would you like other ambitious women to know about how best to move their careers forward?
(AK): “Stop drawing lines of separation between men and women. The best way to fight inequality is to lead by example. Less words, more action without prejudice.”

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