Getting ahead in a male dominated industry | Olga Podoinitsyna

Olga photoOlga Podoinitsyna is a Member of the Board at VTB Capital. She leads the bank’s Communications & Marketing strategy, focusing on regional development in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and the Americas.

Prior to joining VTB Capital, Olga spent eight years at Deutsche Bank as Head of PR, Communications and Marketing for Russia and CIS. She also held roles at PwC and Burson Marsteller. Olga has a Master’s Degree in Russian Language and Literature from the Moscow Pedagogical University and a Diploma in Economics.

My biggest career break was the opportunity to run Communications and Marketing at VTB Capital.

It was a chance to manage the reputation of one of the most exciting and dynamic businesses globally, right from the very beginning. I knew this was my opportunity to influence big strategic decisions. Since VTB Capital was founded in 2008, it has consistently been a market-leading bank. The company’s strategic communications and marketing has played a key role in its success. It has allowed us to grow and strengthen our company profile, manage risk and achieve our ambitious business goals.

Our task was to make VTB Group’s corporate and investment business a recognized and respected brand, both in Russia and in international markets. So we began to promote the name of VTB Capital on global markets and strengthen its position. We regard this as our first major success and the start of our international recognition.

Whilst the past few years have been incredibly challenging, Im proud of what we’ve achieved.

I like the thought of coming in to work every day knowing that our business is the partner of choice for others around the world. But due to a global challenging environment and rapid business growth, we’ve had to adapt our communications strategy and ensure we retain brand consistency globally. I like to work on tailor made solutions to keep up with market development.

Personally, to be recognised by my peers as a female business leader is also one of my biggest achievements.

Sitting on the board of a global bank as a woman is unusual, but when I joined VTB Capital there were a number of females starting in senior positions. I believe I’ve been successful as I understand the importance of ‘soft power’. The purpose of communications is to promote VTB Capital and the investment opportunities that Russia has to offer – but it’s also about leveraging relationships and using your brand’s soft power to meet your target audience expectations.

Companies have to develop ideas that appeal to their target audience and shape the loyalty of customers and employees.

For example, VTB Capital’s annual forums with investors in Moscow, London, New York and Davos, attract decision makers from around the world, allowing us to keep direct dialogue despite market changes.

Our annual “RUSSIA CALLING!” Investment Forum in Moscow this year attracted over 2000 guests, including 500 investors from 60 countries, made up of heads of leading global and Russian corporations, government representatives and opinion leaders from across key financial markets.

We use soft power tools to strengthen our brand internationally.

We adjust our communications and marketing strategy to match market developments as well as the development of our corporate and investment business – it’s all about knowing what will appeal to our global audiences.

Emotional intelligence is also crucial.

Valuing relationships and the everyday contact you have with stakeholders is a way to get ahead in business. To keep this working is crucial.

People often ask me who my role models are.

For me, I try and look around me for feedback and best practice, rather than looking up to one person. I also remain inspired by strong political figures throughout history – Thatcher, Churchill and Disraeli.

Lastly, I have always tried to make sure that I’ve used any influence for good.

We support a number of charities. In the UK, we’re a supporter of the Blackfriars Settlement, a South London charity that provides community services and support to enable the local community to achieve their educational, social and economic potential.

  • Career planning: It’s definitely about global communications, cross-cultural activity, education and soft power.
  • Your advice to move into a leadership position: Keep thinking strategically and enjoy solving the most challenging issues.
  • About challenges: We started the investment business a month before the 2008 financial crisis. At the same time we started talking with international investors. Since then we have kept our position and business relationships despite challenging conditions. Today we can say we have achieved a leading position in global markets and our communications strategy works. We have won some of the most prestigious international awards by Communicate Magazine (UK) in several categories. Our team was recently named the best in the field of business corporate communications in the financial sector, according to the Corporate & Financial Awards. VTB Capital has also been awarded the prestigious annual award of the International Public Relations Association IPRA Golden World Awards. What’s more, our Investment Forum was voted #1 Pan European Broker Conference by Extel Survey in 2016.
  • Typical workday: My day begins with yoga class at 7am, which really helps to start the day. My journey to the office is taken up by e-mails, calls and looking through media coverage. VTB Capital operates all over the world 24/7 due to the different time zones of our international activity. Therefore, my day might appear to end at an event in St. Petersburg but may then continue on a plane to London – it is a good way to keep your energy up.

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