Ulviyya Talishinskaya is the Director of Sales & Marketing for Four Seasons Resort and Residences at The Pearl-Qatar. Following the success of a podcast episode by Leila Aliyeva featuring Ulviyya, Leila interviews the luxury-travel expert exclusively for Baku
Baku: What inspired you to become who you are today?
Ulviyya Talishinskaya: My grandfather was the highlight and the inspiration of my life. He cultivated important values and behaviours which ultimately helped him shape an impressive career, despite facing very challenging times. He has always been very present, and often spoke to me about the importance of chasing your dreams and to “go for it”.
Overall, my family played a major role in helping me become the person I am today. My parents were an example of morality and ethics; I always had this in mind whilst building my career.
However, the real inspiration I had was a vision of myself as an independent woman, able to have a true impact on people’s lives. It is the greatest reward to know that I have made even a small difference in someone’s life by supporting and guiding them when they needed it.
Baku: What has been your greatest challenge in getting where you are today?
UT: One of the biggest challenges for me was the perception of the women in the hospitality industry in Azerbaijan, when I first decided to pursue my career in this field.
I was extremely fortunate to work and grow in organisations where equality was always an important value. But we all know that a promise of equality is not equality. It comes with endless conversations: work on the problem, and most importantly work on the culture – the cultures we build together in the organisations we work at or the businesses we run.
We always say that women should support women, but in my reality, many people in my support system throughout my professional journey – my leaders, friends, or family – have been male. I think what I discovered is that if you are competent and confident, men most of the time do not compete with you, but work with you. Of course, this is not the case everywhere.
Baku: What advice would you give to an aspiring businesswoman?
UT: Family and career do not compete; they co-exist. You don’t need to feel apologetic for taking time for your family needs, or to care about the perception it will cause your superiors, colleagues, or society in general to have of you.
The same goes for women who decide to focus on their careers. That is a choice which should be respected by all, and no woman should feel less successful because of the path she chooses.
The most important this is how everything you build for yourself makes you feel. I have always thought that the most important thing in life is happiness, and to be passionate about what you do. If you have that, regardless of your gender or family status, it is all that counts.
Baku: What has been your greatest motivation?
UT: My family has always been my main source of motivation, especially my kids. Seeing them growing, achieving their goals and how kind and compassionate they are makes my heart full.
I love what I do so much, and working with people gives me an endless source of motivation every day.
Baku: What else needs to change to ensure female entrepreneurs have the same opportunities as men?
UT: Nowadays there are lots of studies and publications on how women are held back in their workplaces. However, I want to talk about how most of the time we hold ourselves back. We have a certain perception of ourselves before anyone else has one, which much of the time makes us feel less confident or less assertive for no reason.
If we change that for ourselves, together we can encourage the next generation of female leaders. When we speak confidently, take risks, and recognise our own accomplishments, we set positive examples for young girls to follow.
Baku: Do you feel you have succeeded in what you want to achieve, or do you have more goals? If so, what are they?
UT: I believe I have succeeded in what I wanted to achieve, and even more. I made a huge effort to get where I am today, and the time and dedication I had to invest was not always well accepted by those around me. It is natural to make some sacrifices in life even if, at times, they are not easy to make. I want to tell all women: if your partner or your friends don’t support you in a way you deserve, just continue to follow your dreams. The right people will always stand by your side, no matter what.
I certainly have more goals to achieve through learning and developing in the field I have chosen. I am passionate about marketing, and all my career aspirations are associated with it. I am grateful that today I am part of such an amazing organisation, committed to my growth, and not only supporting gender equality but working towards it and contributing to this matter worldwide.
Online Editor: Candice Tucker