I work as an interim executive manager on project assignments, as well as give individual consultations. I provide expertise in the following business and technical areas:
Scaling SMEs and Tech Start-ups.
- Developing a comprehensive business strategy, including financial planning and defining the company’s unique selling proposition (USP).
- Successful track record in investor relationships with pre-seed to series-A capital raising.
- Deep understanding of target audience dynamics and preferences, tailoring strategies and offerings accordingly.
- Deriving actionable insights from data to drive proactive decision-making and establish a culture of action-taking among employees.
- Developing playbooks and launching international market expansion.
Optimizing Operational Excellence.
- Lean Six Sigma (DMAIC) methodology: Applying the Define, Measure, Analyse, Improve, and Control framework to drive process improvements and eliminate inefficiencies.
- Kaizen approach: Implementing the Act, Plan, Do, Check cycle to continuously improve operations and enhance overall performance.
- Design for Six Sigma (DMADV) methodology: Utilizing the Define, Measure, Analyse, Design, and Verify process to create and validate new processes that meet customer requirements and minimize defects.
- Value stream management (VSM): Streamlining current processes, eliminating waste, and implementing improvements to optimize the value delivered to customers.
- Embracing lean principles: Defining value, mapping value streams, creating flow, establishing pull systems, and striving for perfection to achieve operational excellence.
Improving Supply Chain Management & Logistics.
- Comprehensive understanding of logistics stages, advantages, and risks.
- Proficiency in technology systems for on-time and complete fulfillment.
- Expertise in multimodal transportation sourcing and procurement.
- Knowledge of omnichannel retailing in logistics.
- Familiarity with Blockchain applications in logistics and supply chain.
Training Leadership Skills.
- Understanding intrinsic and extrinsic motivation, differentiating between management and leadership.
- Effective decision management under risk and pressure, balancing self-interest and organizational needs, utilizing persuasion techniques.
- Skillful stakeholder management and adherence to ethical principles.
- Leveraging competition and rewards as tools for effective leadership.
- Applying Kotter’s 8 steps to drive cultural change and incorporate change into the organization’s DNA.
Very truly yours,
ILona B. Schukina
- Embracing Life’s Limitless Possibilities: Creating Yourself Through Passion, Empowerment, and Philanthropy.My life motto is “Nothing is impossible, Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself” – what does this mean? My high school graduation journal chose the saying “nothing is impossible” to describe me; I fully acknowledge this life credo. I strongly believe that every individual has the opportunity to succeed in life. No matter the wealth of one’s family, or the color of one’s skin, if an individual has set goals and strives to work hard, recognition will follow. I also believe that the mental revolution of a human being is bound not only with daily jobs or academic achievements but also by being a productive member of society and taking an active role in philanthropy. That’s why I take every chance to promote empowerment and encourage people to achieve their goals. In this article, we will explore these concepts in-depth and discuss how embracing a growth mindset, fostering empowerment, and engaging in philanthropy can help you design the life of your dreams. Embracing a growth mindset A growth mindset is a belief that your abilities, intelligence, and talents can be developed through dedication, hard work, and perseverance. It’s about embracing challenges, learning from failures, and continuously striving for improvement. The importance of setting goals: Setting clear, achievable goals is crucial for personal and professional growth. Goals provide direction, motivation, and a framework for measuring progress.Overcoming obstacles: Life is full of challenges and setbacks. Embrace them as opportunities for growth, and use your inner resilience to overcome them.Cultivating a positive attitude: A positive attitude helps you see the possibilities in any situation and fuels your motivation to achieve your goals. Fostering empowerment Empowerment means giving yourself the tools and resources needed to take control of your life and make your own decisions. It’s about recognizing your strengths, embracing your weaknesses, and continuously working on self-improvement. Building self-confidence: Believe in your abilities and trust that you can achieve your goals.Seeking mentorship and support: Surround yourself with people who believe in your potential and can offer guidance and encouragement.Taking responsibility for your life: Embrace your power to make choices and take action to create the life you want. Engaging in philanthropy Philanthropy is about giving back to society and helping others. It’s an essential part of personal growth and a powerful way to create a meaningful, fulfilling life. The benefits of giving back: Engaging in philanthropy can improve your mental well-being, increase your sense of purpose, and help you develop new skills.Finding your passion: Identify the causes you’re passionate about and find ways to contribute your time, talents, or resources.Creating a ripple effect: Your philanthropic efforts can inspire others to give back, creating a ripple effect of positive change in the world. The power of passion Passion is a driving force that can help you achieve your goals and create a fulfilling life. It’s about discovering what truly excites you and pursuing it wholeheartedly. Identifying your passions: Take the time to explore your interests and values to discover what truly excites and motivates you.Pursuing your passions: Once you’ve identified your passions, find ways to incorporate them into your daily life and career.Inspiring others: Share your passion with others and inspire them to pursue their dreams. Sharing your journey Sharing your personal journey of growth and self-improvement can have a profound impact on others. By sharing your experiences, you can inspire, motivate, and empower others to follow their dreams. Blogging and social media: Share your insights, experiences, and lessons learned through blogging and social media platforms.Speaking engagements: Share your story at conferences, workshops, and other events to inspire and empower others.Mentorship: Offer your guidance, support, and wisdom to others on their personal growth journey. Hope you enjoyed reading it! Looking forward to your comments and feedbacks. Very truly yours, ILona B. Schukina... Read more...
- I want to raise a very interesting topic – the exactingness of a leader. What qualities does a leader need in general? Can Leadership be learned? Why is demanding to be a leader? You will find answers to these and other questions in our article. Leadership and management are often pitted against each other, with some people proclaiming, “We don’t need managers, we need leaders!” In my perspective, leadership is an essential component of management, specifically concerning the psychological aspect of management. In this article, we’ll delve into the distinctions between leadership and management and explore the importance of the psychological aspect in the management process. Understanding the technological and psychological aspects of management. When discussing management, we can differentiate between the technological (informational) and psychological aspects. For example, imagine you are my leader. The technological aspect involves discussing tasks and responsibilities. You might delegate a task to me or ask for my input on which task to prioritize. Alternatively, you may grant me the authority to make independent decisions. Regardless of the specific discussion, the technological aspect focuses on the content of the tasks and responsibilities. Meanwhile, the psychological aspect of management deals with the emotional and personal dynamics of our interactions. When we communicate with one another, our interactions occur on two levels: the “What?” and the “How?”. As my manager, you have authority over me and my work. We discuss tasks that have specific content and objectives. At the same time, I am an employee of a company with a defined role, position, and functional responsibilities. However, I am also a human being with emotions and personal needs. Ideally, we could separate our personal selves from our work roles, but that’s not the case for most people. As a result, our interactions encompass both “function-function” (role, technical) and “person-person” dynamics. The ability to personally influence an employee in a positive direction is what I consider leadership. This influence is not based on authority, official rights, or power but stems from personal connections. If a leader doesn’t possess leadership skills, their management approach will be incomplete and less effective. This is especially true when managing people engaged in intellectual work. For example, if someone is performing a simple manual task, like using a hammer, leadership might not be as crucial. However, when managing employees who require creativity and critical thinking, effective leadership becomes essential. The concept of compassion in a leader. The question arises: can leadership be learned, or must a leader be born? Certainly, there are innate leadership qualities that can be observed from an early age (sometimes even in the playground, we can identify the leader). However, I believe leadership can be learned, and since I’m interested in the tools rather than abilities, I highlight specific leadership competencies, including exactingness. We might wonder what qualities a leader needs in general. I would list qualities such as open-mindedness (the ability to receive, process, and reconsider information – cognition), perseverance, responsibility, and exactingness. Furthermore, a leader should possess internal responsibility, which is an innate or developed character trait, while external responsibility arises not from within, but from external circumstances. Human qualities can be categorized along a certain scale. Let’s say talent is on one end, and it can be labeled differently. I define it as a synergistic combination of specific abilities. Several abilities synergistically combine, and a person develops a talent for a particular activity, such as sports, drawing, or sculpture. There are individuals referred to as “Leonardo Man” in honor of Leonardo da Vinci, who combined the talents of an artist, sculptor, and more. Such people are exceptionally talented. As for myself, I possess the ability to think systematically, and I can transform complex concepts into simpler ones. I believe this is an innate quality, which I may have developed over five years of consulting. Whether I had this ability ten years ago is uncertain. An ability is an inherent quality within a person: aptitude for music, sports, or foreign languages. On the other end of the scale of qualities is aptitude. What does this mean? Aptitude means that a person may lack innate abilities but can develop specific skills and capabilities through training. It’s true that an apt person needs to work hard to achieve the results of a capable and talented individual. Is this a hindrance? Not necessarily. You might have observed in school or sports clubs that capable individuals sometimes make rapid progress, and achieve initial results, but then fade away (not always, but occasionally). Why? Because their innate abilities allow them to easily grasp what is difficult for others. So, can everyone be taught leadership? No. Can everyone be a leader? No. However, the character is not a sentence. Are there executives who have learned nothing and have built giant companies? There are plenty! These people are called geniuses. Everyone knows about them. Not everyone knows about those who laid down their heads, not having learned, but relying on their abilities. The ends of the scale are talent and contraindications. Everyone else can be leaders since this is a profession, not a gift from God. If our exactingness is not in the zone of difficulties or in the zone of contraindications, we can develop it. We can train character by actions. In order to change it or build up some additional qualities, we can begin to perform actions inherent in a person with the qualities that we want to acquire. A person who is accustomed to achieving success easily may sometimes lack innate industriousness and, consequently, perseverance. When the foundation for their initial accomplishments runs out, they may struggle to reach more complex, higher standards. This is when hard work becomes essential, but they are not used to it since they’ve always experienced easy victories. For example, a capable child might excel in elementary school but gradually lose steam. Similarly, an athlete could effortlessly achieve the first 2-3 ranks but not progress further, as that would require hard work. At that point, their advantage becomes less noticeable, and since they are not used to working hard, they prefer easy results. Of course, this isn’t always the case. Some people begin at the first level and graduate at the top of their class, or athletes who consistently outperform from the start. However, the innate ability doesn’t always equate to long-term success. This is why various cultures have stories of the tortoise overtaking the hare: a determined tortoise can outpace a capable hare. Further along the scale, there is a zone of difficulty. This zone represents actions that are not just challenging but require significant effort and self-discipline to overcome. An example of this can be found in the American Major Basketball League, where some players possess unconventional heights for basketball. They may appear unusual on the court, but their presence in the league is not due to political correctness. Instead, these players likely compensate for their lack of height with exceptional jumping, agility, dribbling, and other skills, which allow them to succeed in an unorthodox position. In conclusion, innate abilities and talents don’t always guarantee long-term success. Hard work, perseverance, and the willingness to overcome challenges can be equally, if not more, important in achieving one’s goals. Why is it demanding to be a leader? Incorporating individuals who exhibit external responsibility is essential, as it discourages those who may shy away from the right attitude towards work from doing so. Many people might ask, “Why to work with such people?” I can’t say for sure—perhaps there’s no need. If all your employees possess a high level of internal responsibility and don’t require stringent expectations, I congratulate you! You are an outstanding leader (sincerely and without any irony). In my 10+ years of work experience, not everyone is a paragon of fearlessness and integrity. It would undoubtedly be fantastic if we could assemble a team of 300 highly moral, highly responsible, and highly professional individuals. Who wouldn’t want that? But when people indignantly exclaim, “Why work with such people?” I can’t help but ask, “Colleagues, are you referring to yourself or others?” A person who is content with their performance is usually surprised by such questions and rarely reacts defensively. In contrast, someone dissatisfied with their own performance often raises their voice and focuses on what should be, rather than what is. They lack what others possess. By no means am I advocating for waging a war for talent—I don’t even support initiating one. Despite the countless suggestions to “assemble a star team and achieve success in life,” do you really think that talented individuals have nowhere else to go? I have my doubts. Are you the star coach under whom the star team will come together? Or do you want a star team without being a star coach yourself? The critical questions remain: how to assemble such a team, and who do you need to become to attract a star team? Leadership training What should you do when compassion is needed for offended employees when you make demands and they feel hurt? There are various scenarios for dealing with such situations. The most positive outcome is that they overcome their hurt feelings and continue to be productive, while the less favorable scenarios are best left unmentioned. Of course, it is wrong to hurt people, but not holding them accountable for their responsibilities is also a disservice. I understand that some belief in mythical mantras and the power of exclusively positive influences, which supposedly can transform negative individuals into positive ones. I’ve never met these people in real life, but I’ve heard many stories about them, often without specific names and usually from “somewhere overseas.” In reality, leadership has a dark side. What does this mean? Naturally, a leader should begin with the positive: they must inspire, motivate, and encourage. But how should leaders handle those who seem immune to such positivity? Do these people even exist? Niccolo Machiavelli once elegantly said, “Unfortunately, people do not always live as the Lord commanded them.” This statement holds true, as even generally decent people sometimes justify unworthy behavior in an attempt to maintain a positive image. Thus, a leader needs to show compassion, and if they possess this quality, they may not need to make demands frequently—they can simply ask. A compassionate leader can afford to be polite, well-mannered, warm, and approachable, without compromising their authority. This is because everyone understands the value of interacting with a compassionate leader, and would prefer to maintain a positive relationship with them. Hope you enjoyed reading my article! Looking forward to your comments and feedback. Very truly yours, ILona B. Schukina... Read more...
- As a young leader managing an adult team, it is crucial to recognize the importance of understanding and getting to know team members. Confucius’ wisdom, “Don’t worry about people not knowing you. Worry about not knowing people,” emphasizes the significance of building relationships with team members for success. Alberta, a 27-year-old specialist in a furniture manufacturing organization, was elated to receive the position of chief designer. However, her excitement was short-lived as she discovered that her team was comprised of experienced professionals, with the youngest member at 45 years old and the oldest at 58 years old. They initially perceived Alberta as inexperienced and too young to lead them, which created a communication barrier. Despite her best efforts to implement modern techniques, the team was unwilling to embrace change and greeted Alberta’s suggestions with hostility, leading to the failure of her first project. Young leaders often see themselves as excellent specialists when they receive a promotion. However, a lack of management experience can cause issues, especially when employees are not receptive to the new boss. Although the manager’s career depends on the work of their subordinates, differences between generations can play a significant role in their ability to manage their team. Most modern offices are a mix of generations X, Y, and baby boomers. While younger employees are typically more adaptable to new technologies, older employees may not be as comfortable with multitasking. A competent leader will understand each employee’s qualities and build relationships accordingly, regardless of their age. As market conditions continue to evolve, companies must introduce new management approaches, leading to more situations where a manager is much younger than their subordinates. Young leaders are often bold and make competent decisions, but employees must be stable and experienced. Experience often comes with age, but a leader must have the qualities of leadership, energy, and a willingness to take risks.Information technology is essential in modern business, and specialists who can use modern technologies are highly valued. While younger specialists may be more cost effective for the company, their desire to achieve high goals is often embedded in their approach to work. The situation called “young specialist in the boss’s chair” is not new. However, it can be the beginning of problems, conflicts, skirmishes, and disagreements. Moreover, conflicts have a different level of intensity – from employee dissatisfaction to open sabotage. The heads of other units can also “add gunpowder”, instigating a “quiet war” against the young boss. How can a young leader effectively work with an “old” team? Finding a balance between generations and creating a peaceful atmosphere in a work team can be achieved through the following strategies: Introduce innovations gradually, taking into account the rhythm of the previous work of colleagues. It is essential to communicate the necessity of changes and give specific examples, inviting experts to talk about the possibilities of new technologies and techniques. Daily reminders of the improvements that will inevitably be seen after the introduction of a new system can reduce resistance. It is also crucial to convey to “older employees” the importance of keeping up with the times and the negative consequences of ignoring innovations.Form mixed teams where young employees work alongside experienced ones. Although there may be difficulties, teams with representatives from different generations have more chances for success and fruitful collaboration. They have much to share: young employees can benefit from the experience of the “older” ones, while the latter can learn something new from their more “advanced” colleagues.Create an open corporate culture based on mutual respect. This can be achieved through special training and by inviting experienced trainers and coaches to facilitate the process.Build credibility with “older” colleagues by demonstrating your leadership skills in practice. Prove your competence by successfully carrying out projects and showing your expertise. Old-timers who see your professionalism and leadership abilities will begin to listen to your opinion. A young leader can effectively work with an “old” team by introducing changes gradually, forming mixed teams, creating an open corporate culture, and building credibility through demonstrating competence. When it comes to managing employees, it’s important to focus on the psychological age of the leader rather than their biological age. New leaders, regardless of age, often make the mistake of building the wrong line of behavior from the first day in their new role. During the “adaptation period,” it’s crucial to build the correct line of behavior to avoid negative consequences, such as a collective “against” attitude. Compensation for youth with an authoritarian or rude management regime is not effective. For young leaders working with employees of the “old school,” the following instruction-cheat sheet may be helpful: Find common ground in your vision of the company and the positions of the “old guard.”Show respect for employees and evaluate their work impartially.Strive for sincere, human relations with subordinates.Be punctual and adhere to strict dress code, addressing all employees by their correct names.Evaluate your capabilities objectively and don’t be afraid to ask for advice or talk to more experienced employees.Admit your own mistakes and share responsibility with the team.Don’t emphasize your superiority or importance in communicating with colleagues, as this can increase negativity.Build clear and precise requirements that are understandable to all employees.Determine who the “informal leader” of the team is and make them a like-minded person.Rely on a democratic management style, recognize experience, and take into account the opinions of others. By following these guidelines, a young leader can effectively manage an “old guard” team while building positive relationships with employees. Mutual respect, clear communication, and recognition of experience can help create a peaceful and productive work environment. Now let us come back to Alberta, who has failed a new, promising project. Alberta’s failure to implement a new project can be attributed to her initial approach in building relationships with colleagues and introducing innovations. Alberta needed to establish a clear system of interaction from the start and show colleagues that new technologies would improve the established rules rather than break them. By proving the need for change and demonstrating the benefits of modern gadgets and equipment, the reorganization could have been perceived as a step towards a high-tech future for the company. The age of the leader is not the most crucial factor for a company. Professionalism, leadership, and human qualities are more important, as well as the ability to find a common language with the existing “backbone” of the team and turn them into a cohesive unit. This is the key to the company’s success and the young boss’s recognition, leading to further career advancement. In conclusion, by building positive relationships with colleagues, introducing changes gradually, and demonstrating competence, a young leader like Alberta can successfully manage an “old” team and achieve their goals. Hope you enjoyed reading it! Looking forward to your comments and feedback. Very truly yours, ILona B. Schukina... Read more...
- The impact of differences in thinking between men and women on life, business, and personal spheres is well-documented, as famously depicted in John Gray’s book, “Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus.” Women make up half of the world’s population and are an invaluable resource, and driving force, and must be given equal opportunities to succeed in business. However, the reality is that the majority of managers, business owners, and politicians are men, and women are often relegated to lower and middle management positions. According to studies, women hold 4 out of 10 middle management positions and 3 out of 10 senior management positions, indicating a gender gap that exists in many countries around the world. Despite some countries having a higher proportion of women in leadership positions, such as Russia and Indonesia, others, including Japan and Argentina, have a much lower percentage. The differences between the thinking patterns of men and women contribute to this inequality. Men are typically results-oriented, seeking achievement and demonstrating their strength and business acumen through competition. In contrast, women prioritize human relationships, communication, and empathy.Women are often more interested in psychology and understanding human relationships, while men prefer news, sports, and business. Men value self-sufficiency and independence, while women seek support and assistance from others. These differences in thinking often lead to conflicts in mixed teams, where women may be perceived as trying to “fix” men, while men may feel their independence is being questioned. To motivate women, it is essential to focus on relationships, respect, and recognition, while men prioritize career growth and achievement. Here are some additional examples of how differences in thinking between men and women can impact various aspects of life: Communication Styles: Men and women have different communication styles, which can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts. Women often use more indirect language and focus on building relationships through communication, while men tend to use more direct language and focus on achieving specific goals. For example, a woman might use nonverbal cues to express her feelings, while a man might use straightforward language to express his opinions.Decision-Making: Men and women also have different decision-making styles. Women tend to take a more collaborative approach, seeking input from others before making a decision, while men tend to make decisions more independently. This can lead to conflicts in a team setting, where women may feel their ideas are not being heard, while men may feel their authority is being challenged.Leadership Styles: Men and women also have different leadership styles. Women tend to be more collaborative, empathetic, and focused on building relationships, while men tend to be more assertive, competitive, and focused on achieving results. This can impact the way teams function and can also impact the perception of female leaders, who may be seen as less competent or less effective than their male counterparts.Work-Life Balance: Men and women also have different priorities when it comes to work-life balance. Women often prioritize family and personal relationships, while men tend to prioritize career and financial success. This can lead to conflicts in a relationship, where one partner may feel that the other is not prioritizing their needs and wants.Emotional Expression: Men and women also have different ways of expressing emotions. Women tend to be more expressive and willing to talk about their emotions, while men may feel uncomfortable or embarrassed about expressing their feelings. The different thinking patterns between men and women can create misunderstandings and conflicts, but recognizing and appreciating these differences can lead to more effective teamwork and equal opportunities for success.... Read more...
- In today’s fast-paced world, personal growth is more important than ever. The quest for self-improvement and the desire to unlock our full potential is something many of us share. However, sometimes the people around us might not be as supportive as we need them to be. This can limit our progress and make us feel stuck. If you’re looking for a community that will boost your personal growth, this article is for you. We will share tips on how to build a powerhouse network and find people who will encourage and believe in you. Let’s dive in! 1. Identify your goals and values Before you start looking for a community to join, it’s essential to clarify your goals and values. What do you want to achieve in life? What are your core principles? Having a clear understanding of these aspects will help you find like-minded individuals and communities that share your vision. 2. Research different communities and networks There are countless communities out there focused on personal growth and self-improvement. You can start by researching online forums, social media groups, and local meetups. Look for communities that align with your goals, values, and interests. Keep in mind that the size and structure of a community may vary; some may be large and formal, while others are small and intimate. 3. Attend events and engage with others Once you’ve found a community that interests you, attend their events and engage with the members. This will give you a better understanding of the group’s dynamics and help you decide if it’s the right fit for you. Be open-minded, ask questions, and listen attentively to what others have to say. 4. Contribute and add value When joining a community, it’s essential to contribute and add value. Share your experiences, knowledge, and resources with the group. This will not only help others grow but also establish you as a valuable member of the community. 5. Network intentionally and authentically Networking is key when it comes to building a strong support system. However, it’s essential to network intentionally and authentically. Connect with people who genuinely interest you and with whom you can form a meaningful relationship. Don’t be afraid to reach out and initiate conversations, but remember that it’s a two-way street – be open to helping others as well. 6. Be patient and persistent Finding the right community and building a strong network takes time and effort. Don’t be discouraged if it takes a while to find the right group or make meaningful connections. Be patient and persistent in your search, and eventually, you’ll find a community that will support and encourage your personal growth. 7. Nurture your relationships Once you’ve found your community and made connections, it’s essential to nurture those relationships. Regularly engage with your network, offer help and support when needed, and show genuine interest in their lives. This will create lasting bonds and solidify your support system. Conclusion: Finding a community that boosts your personal growth is a powerful way to ensure that you reach your full potential. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can build a powerhouse network of supportive, like-minded individuals who believe in you and your goals. Remember to be patient, authentic, and open to growth – and watch as your personal development skyrockets alongside those in your new community. Hope you enjoyed reading it! Looking forward to your comments and feedbacks. Very truly yours, ILona B. Schukina... Read more...