Only two women deal in consumer electronics on such a scale in Russia. One of them, Olga Trofimova – our columnist and owner of BytTekhnika, the biggest Siberian electronics wholesale & retail company – dwells on finding a proper balance between family, business, and an exciting lifestyle, featuring, among other things, flying helicopters, fishing, and friendship with Old Believers.
As a historian by training, I do my best to utilise the previous generations’ experience. Great public figures and politicians’ legacy helps me in running my business and working out a wise life strategy. You can be a success and happy only if all spheres of your life are well-balanced. No business can de- velop out of touch with culture, art, architecture, nature as well as your family members’ and friends’ support. Being a successful entrepreneur involves more than just good calculation and analytical skills. Of great importance is your emotional intellect, enabling you to understand people’s aspirations. Knowing by experience that collaboration is always more fruitful than individual effort, I pay a lot of attention to business networking while travelling the world on business, learning about the local culture and history all along the way. The COVID-19 pandemic over, the world is changing on the double, vacating various business niches, very unexpected at times. So, I visit different countries in search of new inspiration and new business opportunities.
This year alone, I’ve been to Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Armenia, Japan, the Emirates, and France to meet with the local business people and discuss ways of cooperating and launching new products in the Russian market. I have a special liking for Japan. The nation doesn’t manufacture much but does bring all sorts of foreign technologies to perfection. That’s what I find particularly interesting. Another welcome surprise for me is that the Japanese possess a really high emotional intellect. They are well-educated and highly cultured. Their speech quiet, they take their time to do things, avoiding multitasking, which is unusual for us, Russians, so used to taking care of at least ten things at a time. The Japanese are quite different in this respect, and that calmness of theirs yields very good fruit. What impresses me the most is the fact that the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki has completely changed Japanese mentality, value system, and their whole culture. Their top priority now is the awareness that only good will and diplomacy can be instrumental in solving international problems. Their main motto is no more arms race, as the Land of the Rising Sun is not going to wage war on anybody ever. You can feel it everywhere, in large towns and small villages alike. Every single thing in Japan is practical, convenient, and friendly. Striving for peace of mind and happiness, you should wish your neighbours the same, regardless of whether you know them person- ally or not. By unwritten right, if you have a good wife, you should not boast of her. Just in case your vis-à-vis has a mean and rude spouse, lest he should feel upset and envy you. Family is valued above everything else and never discussed in public. That’s what is really captivating and admirable about Japan and the Japanese.
One of my main motivators is my large loving family. I’ve given my children a good education and taught them to look for their own life paths. That’s what parental support is primarily all about. After that, it’s up to every individual to work out their own life strategy. To be independent and self-sustained in this world, children need a fishing rod rather than fish. My daughters are a success in their spheres thanks to their own merits, not to being Olga Trofimova’s children. Doing a lot for my family, I’ve never neglected my own interests since only an energetic self-sustained mother can set a good example for her children.
I’d like to warn every business lady against making a major mistake – even working in a male sphere, we must remain who we are. There are very many men and serious talks in consumer electronics. Still, I consider accepting men’s views unadvisable. It’s much wiser to take advantage of the female approach to doing business, i.e., use our ability to feel your dialogue partners’ emotional pitch, see the state they are in, and try to give them what they want for them to understand what else, besides the profit, is valuable in our business partnership.
It’s female energy, wisdom, and charisma that make business talks more comfortable, encouraging men to behave chivalrously. That’s how the win-win strategy is forged, both parties feeling pleased with establishing longterm cooperation, no one being pressured to cave in and concede in the short term perspective. No wonder, many countries enjoyed their golden
ages under female rule as it’s the woman that cares for the future, female nature combining the desire to harmonise the world and striving for victory as well as common well-being and happiness.
Women are natural multitaskers. I myself pursue many hobbies, travelling, playing chess, lawn tennis, and piano music among them. At the moment, I am also learning to fly a helicopter.
Being a Siberian, very close to pristine nature at heart, it’s only natural that I should like fishing as well. It’s not about finding common ground with men or loving fresh fish so much. I just enjoy the process greatly as it energises me, and I’m even better at it than some men. Talking shop and all formalities over, gentlemen always try to be helpful as, after all, I am a girl, and then, all of a sudden, they go, ‘Oh, boy! You have a bite!’ Well, I just feel the fish, that’s all. Siberia is so vast, and there are still lots of places man hasn’t yet set foot at, so you can reach them only by helicopter. On several occasions, I’ve had to do it, feeling afraid at first, of course, but gradually overcoming my fear. The Siberian taiga is so beautiful! These dense and almost impassible co- niferous forests are still home to families of Old Believers, so interesting for me – once a historian, always a historian – to meet and talk to about their lifestyle. They do not let just anyone in their lives, but feeling one has a heart of gold, they will share their food and whatever else they have with such a person. I take special pride in my friendship with these people. The human resource is just invaluable both in life and business. Having graduated from the History Faculty of a teacher training college, I worked as a school teacher for a while. Later, practically all my pupils joined my business team. So, I have literally brought up, educated, and given jobs to a cast of wonderful people. Of which, I am also very proud.
My business career has helped me to formulate five principles of what being a success is all about. Number One is being professional in everything you do, knowing all aspects of your business, and never-ending self-education. Number Two is building a team of reliable comrade-in-arms, enabling you to implement any project. Number Three is being a totally reliable business partner, abiding by all your commitments, whatever the cost. It’s gaining a reputation that matters the most. Number Four is being more than just a business partner but also good company and an eye-opener, helping others to discover new life facets. Number Five is be- ing open to everything new as business opportunities may appear most unexpectedly. If you are genuinely interested in people and the world you live in, you cannot miss them.
How can you manage all that? Enjoying whatever you do is a good answer. I could have continued teaching history at school, in which case, the maximum career growth possible would have been becoming a school headmaster. In the meantime, I’ve always wanted to move on. Having launched a private lyceum school, I realised I would never be anyone’s subordinate again, feeling my potential could be put to a much better use. The second business I’ve launched is dealing in consumer electronics. It’s large-scale and allows a lot of creativity. So, enjoying what you do and putting heart and mind into it, you are sure to hit it big.