Here’s the first in a series of interviews with SkyHive employees about their background and how it prepared them for their experience at SkyHive.
We talked to Veronika Zaytseva, an Enterprise Account Executive based in Vancouver, Canada, about her immigration journey and how SkyHive can lead to more success stories like hers.
What skills have you developed during your working life and how did you develop them?
My first taste of the working life started when I turned eight. As a kid I worked part-time for a local TV channel company and was the face for live TV commercials that advertised new technology products, CDs, and software releases. This was the first exposure to me developing my public speaking, acting, presenting, and body-language skills over the course of a year. Then, I worked in sales first within my parents’ business, then locally in my little hometown of 120,000-plus people. As a teenager I sold luxury office furniture to local businesses and regular people. I learned to analyze the features and benefits of different product offerings, style office suite packages on site, ask questions, and do client discovery over the phone on their needs and preferences, handle objections, as well as conduct sale pitches and quote for purchases above a specific threshold. I was curious and proactive about my customer needs, and that has become the catalyst for my approach to how I create work overall in life.
What was next?
All these experiences prepared me for my immigration journey to Canada, where I had to expand on my professional skills development in a capacity of an immigrant, whose professional journey varied dramatically to the one of a permanent resident or citizen at the time.
In Canada, I relied on my previous sales experience to kick off my professional work journey further. While studying at university, I did regular retail sales, took on ad-hoc jobs, B2C sales, then SMB sales. I moved to customer success and strategic accounts management, to then working with enterprises. I invested my earnings in upskilling myself through learning courses, mentorship, and coaching opportunities.
What kind of things did you learn?
Most of the skills I developed were outside of the sales job family of skills: digital marketing, leadership, storytelling, communication, mentorship, project management, coaching skills, to name a few.
Did your immigrant journey make things tough?
I found three things difficult to initially overcome. First, back then in Canada, the priority for the entry-level jobs was given to citizens, then permanent residents, and later to immigrants. Therefore, to increase my chances of landing a job I would have to apply for even more jobs in multiple industries to at least create more opportunities for any type of employment.
Second, my skills and former work experience in another country hadn’t fully qualified me to land a job at all. I dedicated a lot of time each week to volunteer opportunities that would give me with form of Canadian-relevant experience which I could later reflect on my resume when applying for jobs. Nowadays, the situation is much better. But back then, this would push your ability to be employed by months back.
And the third element that was difficult to overcome initially was creating the right connections, building networks. LinkedIn wasn’t a thing at the time. Therefore, as an immigrant I stayed constantly aware about opportunities, meetings, and events I could participate in or visit locally to create meaningful professional connections and expand my networks as much as possible.
How did these challenges make you feel?
As an immigrant you tend to leave your home country to create better life opportunities for yourself and your loved ones. You leave your home, your culture, and your traditions behind. In the beginning I felt slightly frustrated, but then I started to look for opportunities to grow, instead of focusing on frustration.
What needs to change for there to be more success stories like yours?
There has to be a shift in traditional human capital practices toward focusing on people’s potential and abilities to expand that potential—a shift made among leaders across all organizations toward expanding human potential versus boxing it into certificates, degrees or job titles. I call it moving from lazy structured leadership to curious opportunistic leadership. And there has to be a proactive shift in the minds of employees themselves to help drive their attitudes and curiosity about their own power over their work journeys.
How is SkyHive helping make this change?
Through its Global Alliance for Skills initiative, SkyHive is working with world leaders to help drive necessary changes within the traditional human capital space toward a skills-based economy. Internally, SkyHive is working toward becoming the exemplary modern skills-based organization that is focused on ensuring their employees are proactively seen for their skills. The Skill Passport technology built by SkyHive is directed at driving our awareness as employees about the abilities and gifts and talents we have but haven’t realized. I can only imagine how much time I would have saved on my immigrant professional journey if I had that technology available on my cell phone.
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