EY Apricot Party: The unifying power of the Armenian apricot

06.07.2015 | 09:33 Home / News / Articles /

It’s already the third year in a row that EY (Ernst and Young), a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction and advisory services, has been holding the summer Apricot Party event in Armenia. During the event, several dozens of associates of the company of Armenian origin and as well as guests of the company visit Armenian sights thus blending rest with useful contacts.

This year, the EY Yerevan office again invited about 40 guests to Armenia on June 26-28. The company associates visited Armenian Genocide Museum-Institute, travelled to Tatev Monastery, Noravank and other places of interest. The participants of the program got acquainted not only with the history and culture of our country but also business opportunities that EY associates can contribute to.

Head of HR Consulting Services of EY Yerevan Office Yekaterina Mamaeva has told Mediamax that over the past 3 years, Apricot Party has hosted more than 50 guests from the Russia, Georgia, U.S., Great Britain, Germany, Lebanon, Ukraine, Belarus, France, Qatar and UAE.

Photo: Ernst and Young

“Every year, we try to make the event more interesting so as it wouldn’t be repeated for the participants. Many of them express the wish to take part in the party next year as well bringing their family members and friends”, noted Yekaterina Mamaeva.

It’s noteworthy that the idea of organizing such an event in Armenia was born accidentally, and its authors aren’t of Armenian descent.

As head of EY Yerevan Office Eric Hayrapetyan says, several years ago, member of the Global Executive Committee of EY and Global Vice Chairman of TAX Jay Nibbe and  former CIS  Managing Partner Karl Johansson, who consider their selves as good friends of Armenia and Armenian people, after a pleasant evening in one of the sights, came up with an idea of bringing together Armenian associates of the company in Armenia.

“As a global company, EY encourages development of contacts and ties among the associates. It is this idea that underlies the concept of Apricot Party, which was gladly welcomed by the firm’s Armenian associates. It was obvious, that we won’t be able to invite all the associates of Armenian origin to take part in the event, that’s why it was decided to first of all organize it for the top management of the company”, noted Eric Hayrapetyan.

Photo: Ernst and Young

“Their employer initiates an event which unites Armenians and friends of Armenia enabling to set ties and get acquainted with the country. It’s an exclusive opportunity for them. I think the greatest success of the event is that it contributes to spiritual repatriation of Armenians. It helps successful Armenians who live and work abroad to come to Armenia for a few days, reuniting with the mother land. They come here, spend good time in Armenia, share their ideas, work out new initiatives and make ties. It’s a unique repatriation”, notes the head of the Yerevan Office of the company.

According to him, Apricot Party is revving up on a yearly basis. Next year, most of the participants come here with their families and friends.

Apricot Party has become one of the proofs of love and devotion to Armenia for Hakob Sargsyan, Head of EY CIS TAS (Transaction Advisory Services) Valuation Services, who has been living in Moscow for around 35 years. He is one of supporters of that initiative and guarantors of its successful implementation.

Member of the Global Executive Committee of EY and Global Vice Chairman of TAX Jay Nibbe has also contributed to Karl Johansson’s idea development, mentioning necessity to organize something,  that will bring as many people as possible to see Armenia, which as he states is a wonderful place. “Meanwhile, we were joking that everything good in the world is of Armenian origin. A plate full of apricots was on the table, and we all looked at it and understood that nothing better than Apricot Party can be invented as a name for our event”, said Hakob Sargsyan, continuing the history of “Apricot Party” idea generation and added, that the Armenian people needs to have as many foreign friends as possible.

It’s already Jay Nibbe’s fifth visit to Armenia over the past 6 years. According to him, he comes to Armenia with great love as he considers himself the friend of Armenians. He tells that every year he sees signs of business and economy growth in Armenia.

“I think Armenia is a country which offers remarkable contrast in geography, climate for fairly small land mass. And that’s why it was so pleasure to explore it with a group of friends. What will I take with me from Armenia? A case of apricots. (Laughing). There is genuineness to the people. The pride about people, culture, heritage and history, you feel all that when you are here”, Jay Nibbe tells. He thinks that each associate of the EY company, participating in “Apricot Party” event, contributes to Armenia’s international reputation with his visit.

Joe Watt, Chairman of the Management Committee and EY CIS Managing Partner, has been participating in Apricot Party for the first time. He says that his Armenian colleagues kept telling him that many best things in the world are coming from here, like the best cognac, the best apricots.

Photo: Ernst and Young

“So, I have decided to come and see it all by myself. For me it is not only representing my firm EY, but also understanding myself and learn more about Armenia.  The thing I do like about Armenia is how Armenian Diaspora looks after each other and work together even outside of Armenia. I have learnt a lot of new things and we have spent really good time here. We had a party last night and what I said in my toast at the party that it seems very genuine for me, for example, when you go to villages, mountains; you don’t see many advertising sites and brands like other places. Everything looks very authentic. As things develop I hope it doesn’t become too commercialized because it is quite unique and special and that is one of the reasons why people will come here”, he says adding that he was especially impressed with Armenians’ warmth and sincerity to each other.  

“Landscapes of Armenia are very beautiful and I’ve got some images from the tour. But I think the most impressive image that I will take with me is how good Armenians are drawing people together with simple good quality food, music, few drinks. I will take with me the atmosphere and good energy of the people. By the way, I couldn’t even imagine, that Armenia is so green”, he confesses.

Emma Arakelyan, Partner/Principal, Financial Services, IT Advisory, from EY New York office, proudly talks about her Armenian roots. Born and educated in Yerevan, she tells that it was quality education in Armenia that helped her to build career in EY.

Photo: Ernst and Young

“When I first got that memo I was thrilled and I said: “This is a program that is going to get a lot of people together”. And it did. It’s my second year I am here. Of course, it is a great opportunity to see Armenia, but most importantly is opportunity to understand what we can do collectively for Armenia. A talent that we have, a passion that we have, how we can bring it not only to Armenia but to our planet, to our society. Location does not matter, in spirit you stay who you are. In my heart I am Armenian and I am proud of it, but I also feel that I am citizen of the world. Whatever we do, the inventions we make, the contribution we make, it is for everybody in this world”, she says.

Emma Arakelyan states they want to engage young generation to be invited to the right place.

“To build a better working world- this is EY tagline. We are all here with purpose, mission and this event just makes easier to get together and brainstorm. The core of the event is what we can do better and differently for Armenia. We want our country to growth and for this purpose we need to take our young generation to right path.  And location can’t change your purpose”, she notes.

Hakob Sargsyan comes to complement Emma’s thought.

“Each of us should ask ourselves: what can we do for Armenia? I think the most important thing is to help Armenian youth overcome pessimistic moods. We should help people drop the mindset of leaving Armenia for good. You can leave for work or education, it’s natural and encouraging, but you should retain the links with the homeland. I am sure with the vitality, zeal and creative efforts peculiar to Armenians can we reach it integrating into the world community and sharing our talent and strength”, says Hakob Sargsyan.

P.S. Apricot Party’s this year’s participants have already left Armenia but many of them will always retain invisible emotional bonds with the country. They promise to come to Armenia again  bringing new and faithful friends of Armenia.

Ekaterina Poghosyan

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