Commercial Director at Ucom Arina Arustamyan started her career at VEON Armenia (Beeline brand) company in 2008 as a corporate sales specialist and 12 years later became the Commercial Director of the same company. In case of such professional growth, how did she accept the offer to work in Ucom in 2020, especially after the company faced the issue of “be or not to be”? Itel.am tried to find out.
The fire in Ucom already went away, but still a lot of things were to be started from scratch
Joining the company was a well-considered and difficult decision for Ucom’s current Commercial Director which she made after lasting negotiations. She says that she came to the company at a time when “the fire of 2020 already went away to some extent”. Observing the situation agreed first with the pandemic, then the simultaneous departure of all of Ucom’s entire management staff and about 500 employees, then the war and serious technical challenges, she admired “those very brave people who joined or stayed in Ucom at the most crucial moment and managed to resist all the ups and downs that the company has gone through.
“When I joined Ucom, the fire went away to some extent, it was already necessary to decide over the next steps and quickly restore the previous positions, build many things from scratch. The decision to join Ucom was not made in a second. It was important for me to contribute my experience in the field and the knowledge I gained while studying abroad. At the same time, VEON Armenia company, where I worked for 12 years, left the market. At that time, I considered my career there to be over. That is, there was a story that was ending, and another that was to begin. And in that new story, there was a team that was very dedicated, people who were ready to build, to contribute all their efforts, so that the company could finally get out of that border situation.”
When there are many problems, there are also reasons why not to do this or that. The importance of each employee is seen in such situations. When you come up with a complaint then you have to have a solution as well.
The most important thing I immediately realized was that the company needs change management in order to change people’s attitude, the way they work and the organization to be able to move in the direction we have outlined. In such situations, it is very important to question all sentences starting with the word “impossible”. The ability to make quick decisions was very important, and sometimes it was crucial. There was little time, uncertainty was big, the market was very active, you had to assume that responsibility, take risks and make quick decisions without even having all the data, information, numbers, graphics you need. It was important to understand the potential, the structure of the company, to analyze the capabilities of the people and to find effective solutions to the problems, because I did not come with ready-made formulas.
As a leader, I find it unacceptable when I am told “I will do as you say” sentence without being offered any other option. For effective work, an employee needs to voice his/her professional considerations if he/she does not agree with this or that decision.
Today in Ucom we are creating that culture. Being proactive is encouraged, proposals for positive changes are welcomed by senior management.
When there are clear facts, market knowledge, sense of change of the pace, experience of working in an international company and certain carte blanche in activities, all that remains is to act and do what you think is right.
One of the most important professional skills is good knowledge of the field, market and competitors, systemic thinking and flexibility.
“While working in another company, I have always studied the work of competitors, experience, and of course, I knew well the strong and weak sides of Ucom. From the beginning, there was trust from both Ucom’s management and staff, given my past experience. I am very happy today that we have good results in just 10 months.
The real challenge was not to draw up an action plan and strategy, but to bring it all to life. The best strategy is nothing if there are no implementers. This is the challenge not only Ucom, but also many companies around the world face.”
The situation in Armenia is uncertain: many leaders today have to develop more than one strategy and action plan
“We are living in a reality we cannot directly influence. However, we realize that we live in this country and if we can support our country in any way, we do. As a large company working in the field of telecommunications, we are obliged to provide people with uninterrupted communication, to ensure the security of data transmission, to offer tariff plans and packages that will satisfy even the most demanding subscribers.
Today, the pandemic has raised the level of uncertainty all over the world, not only in Armenia, making it difficult to make decisions. In the so-called “change management” phase, many entrepreneurs do not limit themselves to a specific plan, but think about the second or third option. The planning horizon has become shorter, the uncertainty is so great that sometimes you have to come up with short-term solutions.
Today, quickly orienting and responding to changes is one of the most important preconditions for any company to succeed
“The telecommunications sector is very dynamic. It is one of the few industries that is developing in line with the pace of the world, there is both healthy competition and large-scale. With the development of digital technologies, the competitive field of communication sector has expanded, and today we compete not only with local operators, but also with global players such as WhatsApp, Viber, international e-commerce platforms. After such solutions, customers’ requirements and expectations for the product, service quality change. This complicates, but also makes the work interesting.”
Being a woman in a leadership position is a challenge not only in Armenia, it is so all over the world. However, it is gratifying to note that the involvement of women in senior management positions in Ucom is more than 30%, and women in middle management circles are more than 55%.
“The representation of women in leadership positions is relatively small worldwide. Even according to the statistics of large U.S. companies, the involvement of women in senior management positions is 30%, but this number is growing year by year, and it is very gratifying that in this respect Ucom is in tune with the world.
I was the first woman commercial director at Veon Armenia. And I think we all need to work to change our perception of women in leadership or responsible positions in society. We must constantly share experience and show direction for new professionals. I have gone that way, from sales specialist to commercial director, and I know it is possible. For that, you need just to work, not to be afraid of responsibility and move forward.
Studying in Oxford University and gaining a Master of Business Administration (Executive MBA) degree was an important period of professional and personal growth for Arina Arustamyan
“At that time I was the head of marketing, I did not have a master’s degree, but I did not want to get that title just to make a note in the CV. I also lived in Armenia, worked in the same company for many years and wanted to gain new experience and coordinate my knowledge. That’s why I decided to study in one of the best universities in the world, combining it with my work.
This is a serious way to get to know yourself, to understand your true abilities, to develop new skills. In addition, this program has made it possible to acquire more systematic knowledge. This program not only provides academic and theoretical knowledge, but also in two years teaches to break all stereotypes, to approach the solution of problems from different angles, to think differently, to have personal growth and as a result to transform into a specialist.”
Ucom are people, professionals, who raise the quality bar with their daily work.
“The most important thing I have learned in this long journey is how important people are. People work and create, people are behind everything from simple work to developing great strategies. In this regard, what we did in Ucom was a result of the willingness and dedication of the people. In the crisis year, they did what they should not be doing or what they never did, at the expense of their personal time, sleepless nights. I am very lucky to have such a team, and I am sure that with our daily work we will raise the quality bar in Ucom.
Ucom is reborn today and will continue to develop dynamically, providing better quality, more perfect services to its clients every day in accordance with the requirements of the new generation.”