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The Head of the Company's training center
- Svetlana, could you tell us in a nutshell what kind of work you are doing in the Company?
- For 17 years till now, I have been working in the training center, and I am also heading this area of activity. Initially, the idea was brought up by Alexander Narodickis , and afterwards we put it into practice. He said: "I want the center to function unfailingly and conduct trainings."
- At first, it was sort of experimental, but now it is a steadily on-going activity.
- Training and upgrading of professional skills, as one of the Company's areas of activity, is successfully developing, it proves promising and is performed on company premises involving major universities of St. Petersburg and Moscow. Classes are conducted by highly qualified specialists of our company, alongside with specialists of leading technical universities (like SPbGEU, MEI, SPbSPU, SPbGI). Groups are mostly mini and medium-size, enlisting from 4 to 8 students, so that to make it comfortable and comprehensive for each person. There is one teacher, as a rule. We offer two types of courses – basic and advanced. The curriculum is drawn up for a year, you can always find it on the Company website in the "training" section. The group starts working as soon as it is full. Duration of training is one week. Upon completion, each student receives a certificate of the Company's standard.
- Does the training center absorb you completely or do you still have time for other tasks?
- In parallel with the courses, since 2003, Alexander Gennadyevich started giving me tasks to organize conferences and exhibitions. With our lead managers and technical experts, we have been to Hanover several times visiting an exhibition on automation and we have visited Finland twice. Alongside with the exhibitions, seven scientific and practical conferences on energy resources, environmental safety and accounting of energy consumption were organized on behalf of our Company. Currently, conferences are still being held and their organization is responsibility of the Special Project Office. This year in July there was a conference held in collaboration with Legrand company. Events involving major companies are an important step towards establishing partnerships.
- Getting back to the topic of the training center, please tell us how else can you use your laboratory facilities?
- In addition to the fact that every manager can send his engineer to train at our center any time, if this does not interfere with the main occupation, you can also practice your currently developed project on our stands. So it sometimes happens when one of the guys calls and asks: "Svetlana, can we come around and do some studies?" And so the guys come on the appointed day, I give them the key to the training laboratory, and they do their studies. Naturally, it takes place under the supervision of a technical manager or an engineer who has access to electrical equipment, since the equipment is expensive. I also had to complete special training and get a second electrical safety access qualification level at Rostekhnadzor (Russian Technical Inspection Agency), as it is required by the regulations. I am not a pro in electrical engineering, however; I am rather at zero level, if I can say so.
- So you are at zero level in electrical engineering?
- Frankly speaking, I used to be a rehabilitation psychologist. However, with my joining the Company my life has changed drastically: at the start, everything was very obscure to me, the information kept falling on me, accumulating like a snowball. And when Alexander Gennadyevich told me to "do a conference," I opened the books and read all about drives and controllers, so as not only to be able to carry on a dialogue and invite people, but to explain things more or less competently. For, after all, there are different controllers and drives and you need to understand which is which. Once we went to a conference in Denmark, and there we also had a chance to visit the museum of the Danfoss drive founder. So the first drive looked like a chest of drawers, and the ones we use today are no larger than a car battery. It was an excellent opportunity for our experts and partners to see everything with their own eyes. Alexander Gennadyevich used marketing vehicles that were not obvious to other electrical and industrial enterprises at that time. He has a knack for it. Just see how he got riding the wave with the idea of training. I believe he is a great idea man.
- So, we can say, no pain – no gain?
- Sure, but I was very lucky because there were such people as Tatyana Yuryevna Chaplieva, Nikolay Alekseyevich Potekhin and others who helped me a lot at that time. But the main figure, of course, is Alexander Gennadyevich Naroditsky. Till now I may write to him at times: "Alexander Gennadyevich, I need your advice" – and he would answer, very briefly, really, but that brief answer would help me come to the necessary conclusion. Alexander Gennadyevich gives a very good start, if you got it right. I did not catch it at first, but I succeed by diligence. You can’t imagine how complicated and incomprehensible it seemed to me. They didn't take me seriously at first: well, just another one joined the staff, so what. And I kept boring my colleagues by asking them questions: like "what is this, and who does that, and what projects do we have, and why is it, and why don't we", I mailed letters, spread the word about our courses. I somehow realized at once that you just need to do your job neatly, no matter what the others think. At times, of course, I felt hurt and cried into my pillow, but the next morning I carried on, as cool as I could, like nothing had ever happened. And I also had a very good mentor. She did not teach me anything, she just threw me into the deep and made up her mind to see why they ever took me onto her office team. And now I feel so grateful to her. She was the one to unleash my morale, my competitive spirit. I considered myself to be quite amorphous in this respect: they would just give me a job, and I would just do it. But it turned out that I was also combatant and I would struggle to take my place in the sun: when the going gets tough, the tough get going. So we need such people in our life, otherwise you will never understand who you really are. It was critical for me not just to be treated by them as one of the team, but to learn what teamwork really is.
- Svetlana, did you have to do any non-standard tasks?
- Oh, naturally! Once Alexander Narodickis says: "Let's invite Zhvanetsky!". And I got hold of Zhvanetsky's manager, I do not know how but I managed to find him, and in 20 minutes for a sum of $ 50,000 they were ready to come to us. From time to time, I need a drive and some kind of jolt. Therefore, I can easily support any idea that seems impossible at first glance, – I need to do it, so I just it!
- Is a trip to Kilimanjaro one of those crazy idea?
- When the idea of Kilimanjaro was brought up, it was totally a jaw-dropper: imagine where I am and where Kilimanjaro is! 5970 meters high – that mount seemed quite terrible. I found it really challenging, when the whole issue just popped up and we were seeking for partners from Magnitogorsk Iron and Steel Works, Lipetsk Metallurgical Plant, Severstal, Evraz and Mechel. The partners were stunned when they found out what we were up to. I said: "Alexander Narodickis , well, in fact, I'm not a mountaineer," and he replied: "OK, you just get it all organized." After a while I hear: "you will make it up to the two thousand meter point, there's a camp there, so you can stay in it and go no further", I say OK and breathe a sigh of relief. Then, when the tickets have already been bought, he says: "Svetlana, you just crawl up to the three thousand point and you may go no further", but I answer: "so it is three thousand already?!". At the very last meeting, when they bless our whiskey and wish us good luck, he says: "when you crawl to the top, give my best regards to God!", And I try to tell him that actually it was not in my plans. No one in the Company believed that I could make it, not a single person, they thought I could not manage, I was not good enough, not physically fit for the task.
- Did you manage to live up to the expectations of the unbelieving?
- First, I would rather share, what it felt like. The overwhelming feeling was that of fatigue. You do not see the height in particular, the only thing, when a plane flew close by, psychologically it was like "wow". The sun, the moon and the clouds all meet in one place, and you do not see anything – wild, childlike glee! For the first time in my life I learned what second wind is. I thought that athletes use this notion allegorically. But it really exists! All the guys were stronger than I was, so I draggled after them: I needed a halt time and again to take my ascorbic acid, or just to catch my breath. I found my second wind when, at some point, I sat down and decided to myself: that's it, I will not go any further, blast it all. Also, the tough thing was that due to the slope, it felt like double-cross or running on the spot, you were advancing, but you could not really see it. And then I got up, exhaled, looked up to the top and I thought: it's such a little distance left to cover. Although the last climb was the steepest of all, I thought that to do another 500 to 700 meters is feasible. And I knew there was something that kept me going, but only some time later, after the descent, I realized that it was the second wind. Oh, but it was so hard in terms of thin air and the fact that you do not understand what is going on. But we made it to the plateau after all. The words that Alexander Gennadyevich said, that he was waiting for me up there, with our hand-made banner, with gold paint, and with the help of a sponge was painting a logo saying: "SPB EC, Kilimanjaro 2005", recharges my batteries.
- How long did it take you to climb to the top?
- With all the rest halts and overnight stops we climbed three and a half, or about four days. You know the kind of climb that is: first a winding path takes you up to three thousand meter level, and then you descend again to two thousand – that is the trekking route. It is absolutely impossible to do the climb in one day, even if you are a pro. You need rest stops and adaptation. Such shocks are very damaging to health: some of us suffered surges and drops of blood pressure. As for the decent – it took us one day only. We descended on the other side of the mountain, but that was very tough too. I broke three sticks on the way: you start rolling down, and you use the stick to put a brake on the fall and keep steady. Professional mountaineers accompanied us, who knew mountain trekking inside out, they did a really great job, they taught us everything, explained how to behave in the wild, what descent technique to use, what to do and what not to do. It was great to be with them, and we felt very protected. If now I had an chance to do a new mount – I would definitely say "yes!". That is an ineffable feeling of drive and victory over yourself.
- It's been 8 years already, but you're relating it as though it happened yesterday.
- Once, when I was a student of the MBA program and I was asked to say some words about the brightest moments in my life, I introduced myself, my company, my director and said that I had so many things in my life: the most beautiful is the birth of my child, and the brightest one is the mountain trekking trip, the trip when I conquered Kilimanjaro! Deprived of such bright moments, life is boring!
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