We continue our new column "Interview with an EMAS business coach", this time Elena Volkova, EMBA graduate, and strategic management coach at EMAS Business School, shared her experience with us.
1. Describe yourself briefly (full name, professional area, disciplines you teach at EMAS)
My name is Elena Volkova, I am a strategic management coach and chair of the EMAS Program Committee.
2. How did you start your career?
I am an oncologist and surgeon by training. I worked as a doctor for 5 years, but then I had to leave the medical field. So, in 2013, I started my career in the medical department of Janssen as a regional medical advisor. My career in the pharmaceutical business then continued in Nutricia advanced, the pharmaceutical division of Danone, where I was already responsible for creating and implementing medical strategy. In 2019, I received a rather unconventional, though interesting proposal from one of the largest tobacco companies to create a department of scientific support and medical support for the business. In general, from the very beginning of my path, I was fascinated by complex cases, puzzles, and non-standard tasks. Creating scientific support departments for business, managing business processes and projects, and launching innovative products — that's what I enjoy doing :)
3. What changes have you noticed in yourself during your period of teaching?
It's worth noting that the changes began while I was still a student at EMAS. I joined the School to better understand how business works and to go beyond just academic business support and, as a result, to set up my own clinic. The leadership module completely turned my life upside down and helped me set my priorities and determine my vector.
I have always had difficulty with emotional intelligence, so from time to time, there had been difficulties with managing teams. The module on corporate culture management and change management was so inspiring that now I have not only improved my leadership, team management, and change management skills, but I even participated in our company's mentoring program.
The biggest benefit of teaching is that you are constantly deepening your knowledge of the subject. Whether you're reviewing projects or preparing for a webinar, there's always some question you don't know the answer to. And you go and look for it. It's also important that teaching gives you the opportunity to explore other businesses, to go beyond just your field.
4. Advice to all students and applicants on how to achieve their goals.
The most important thing is to believe in yourself and not give up. I wanted to quit studying several times; having received an unsatisfactory grade in the preliminary review of the final project, I had already decided that it was not for me. But the School helped me a lot — methodologists, teachers, everyone was always willing to give me advice and as a result, my defense went well. Do not be afraid to ask questions — that's the only way you will get answers.
It's also worth understanding that studying at EMAS is an investment. You have to invest your time — and that's one of our most valuable resources. But this investment begins to pay off almost immediately: after the first modules you start to look at your company and colleagues differently, and you already see potential areas for development.
I would also advise working through projects using examples from real companies so you can start the process of implementation right away. If you can't use your own company as an example, we have a unique opportunity for networking where you can find a teammate for your projects, or maybe even a business partner.