Karen Yeghiazaryan: “Unite around an idea is the most powerful way to achieve a goal”

24.11.2023 | 17:57 Home / News / Interviews /

In the series of "No-Tie" interviews, we talked to Karen Yeghiazaryan, the Chairman of the Management Board of Evocabank.

- Mr. Yeghiazaryan, the lack of time has become a major problem these days. However, in your case, it seems that this problem has been effectively solved, taking into account the fact that you recently studied in the USA.

-I think "lack of time" is a relative concept. Yes, the pace of life has accelerated. It is often difficult to fit all of the day's plans into a 24-hour day. However, in the conditions of many unequal opportunities, time is one of those rare phenomena that is equally distributed to everyone. For everyone, there are 7 days in a week and 24 hours in a day. Each person gets his/her due 24 hours and decides himself/herself how to manage it based on his/her own goals and priorities.

The participation in the Advanced Management Program, the most advanced executive education program at Harvard Business School, was my goal next in turn. It was difficult to be absent from the country for such an extended period of time, as the main part of the program was taken place at Harvard University in Boston. It was an incredible way of new knowledge, experience exchange and networking. 170 senior leaders from around 50 countries of the world, from various branches of the economy and the state administration system, participated in it. You learn from the best people, you discuss problems with the world's best professors and the most famous figures of the business world. This was also a good opportunity in terms of making new acquaintances, exchanging experiences and looking at problems in a new way, from a new point of view, and far and wide. This experience will surely be very useful in the path of realization of our business goals.

We live in a constantly changing environment where changes are rapid and continuous.  Life-long learning, continuous education, not only the ability to learn each and every day, but also the desire of it are very important conditions for moving forward and achieving success. That is why, despite the lack of time, it is important to define the continuous education as a priority. Besides, I consider it to be very effective when the leaders themselves serve as an example for everyone with their development-oriented values and behavior.

I like the comparison of the circle and the knowledge. Knowledge is the content inside the circle, and what we don't know is outside the circle. The circle of knowledge is growing bigger when your knowledge increases, the length of the circle and the surface of contact with the unknown also increases, revealing lots of new things that you don't know yet.

- Before that, you received an MBA qualification at the American University of Armenia, you were trained in London, attended courses in Frankfurt and New York. To what extent is that knowledge applicable in your daily work in the Armenian reality?

- Of course, there are opinions that academic education in Armenia and the demands of the labor market are incompatible. I chose the American University of Armenia years ago precisely because the knowledge and skills provided by that institution were not theoretical but practical in nature. It is important the professor gives an assignment related to the real world, he/she guides, gives a few pointers on them, and the student finds the solutions on his own, from the real environment: the Internet, research, from his own thoughts. Merely "bookish" ideas far from reality are not topical for the business education.

International education and various educational programs abroad are a very good opportunity to expand the general academic experience while at the same time getting acquainted with the best and successful practices of different companies. However, any new knowledge is localized and adapted depending on the country, sector, organizational culture and other characteristics.

I have participated in many more professional courses in London, Frankfurt, New York and elsewhere. I have specially chosen such programs so that the acquired knowledge can be applied in my work.

In addition, soft skills negotiation, communication, persuasion skills, empathy, emotional intelligence, etc. which are now considered to be power skills are occupied a large place in any education, especially in educational programs in the field of management.

These are the most important skills for a leader, working with people and leading people are the most difficult, most responsible and most interesting part of a leader's job, aren't they?

- I am aware that you defended a scientific thesis and share your knowledge with students. How close the process of teaching is to your heart and what opinion have you formed about today's youth?

- I am sure that each of us can make our small contribution to the great task of forming an educated, progressive and continuously developing society. I am happy to share my experience and knowledge with the new generation. This helps me to be constantly aware of young people's lives, to keep up with trends and, in addition to imparting my knowledge, also to receive interesting views, opinions from them and, why not, also to get acquaintances and energy.

I have taught at the Financial Banking College for many years. Many of my students hold responsible positions in the banking system, including in our bank. After the defense of the scientific thesis, I received an offer and started teaching at Yerevan State University. Unfortunately, due to frequent business trips, I have to take a break.

I have noticed that today's youth is more courageous, goal-oriented, has great aspirations, flexibility and is open to changes, which is a very important prerequisite for success in a career on these days. We have a very talented generation. It is true that the lifestyle, needs, requirements and standards of Generation Z are different, but we will get tangible results if we can motivate them properly. They are independent, self-confident, know what they want. This is an important prerequisite for having a competitive generation and a progressive society.

Evocabank also makes a great contribution to the development of young people. For years, we have been implementing the "EvocaLab" educational program, at the end of which students who have shown the best results are given the opportunity to work in our bank. An average of 40 students participate in the annual program, 80% of which join our team. In addition, we closely cooperate with various educational institutions, organize internships, experienced specialists of our team conduct lectures on various topics at universities, share practical knowledge and experience.

- There are different, often conflicting opinions about building effective relationships between the leader and subordinates. But do you agree that every leader has the team he/she deserves?

- I agree: The main mission of the leader is to build a strong team and create maximum value for the company due to the skills of each member of the team.

People often say that their company is a family. Hot discussions are going on in the contemporary business world; Is a company a family or a is it a sports team?

Of course, the idea of family is more warm and supportive. In the family, love and devotion are given without return and without precondition. It is difficult to form a result-oriented culture in the family. It is difficult to set requirements and demand an appropriate result.

As opposed to a family, a sports team has a goal it strives to achieve, and team members consciously come together to achieve that goal. The composition of the team can be changed from time to time, because there are changes in the lives of teammates, sometimes they decide to join other teams and achieve different results.

I think this is a sound business process. In my opinion, Evoca is a strong sports team, united around the idea and goals, here we operate on the principles of honesty, trust and respect.

Three employees doing the same job can have very different motivation and attitude towards their work. There is a famous fable about 3 bricklayers working on the same structure. When the first one is asked what he is doing, he answers that he is building a wall to bring money home. The second replies that he is building a wall to become the best bricklayer in the city. When the third is asked the same question, he answers: "I'm helping to build this temple." Unite around an idea is the most powerful way to achieve a goal.

In the contemporary world, there are a number of methodologies and theories on how to be a good leader. Huge sums of money are invested in the world's best universities and leading organizations to "equip the team with leadership skills". However, taking into account both my own experience and studying the approaches of famous leaders, I will note that the key to healthy relationships and successful leadership is having the same value system and goals for the leader and the team.

- It is said that money is the root of all evil, at the same time, the same is attributed to the absence of money. How to find the golden mean between these "two evils"?

- Too much or too little of anything in life can lead to undesirable consequences. Anyway, I don't think money is the root of all evil. It simply gives everyone the freedom and opportunity to implement their ideas whether with their positive or negative consequences. It is important for what purposes the money is used for. Money is like a car that can take you wherever you need to go, but you are the driver.

- This time period full of challenges requires new approaches and qualities from all of us. How to overcome the uncertainty syndrome and move forward?

- Of course, uncertainty has increased nowadays. It may be more difficult to make long-term plans now, but we cannot just excuse the uncertainty and do nothing. There is no point in fighting against the changes. Changes are like waves. You can't fight against the waves, but you have to learn to curb those waves either.

Kodak, Nokia, Blockbuster, Blackberry, and more recently, Toys R Us and, why not, Skype, once dominant in their fields, have failed to navigate the uncertainty, were not able to adapt their activities to the rapidly changing environment and lost their positions, lost their market.

In such conditions, it is necessary to develop new skills: to be flexible, to make quick and well-considered decisions, to be open to new ideas, to abandon stereotypes, to accept that the world is changing very quickly and not to oppose it, to be able to transform and adapt to changes.

- The digital era has erased the boundaries between work and home. Do you manage to get away from work at least at home and spend as much time as possible with your family? At the same time, what is your hobby that can refresh your thoughts and become a source of new ideas?

- It is often impossible to get away from work at home, out of town or on vacation. I am constantly in touch with the team via various means of communication. It is not possible to maintain a work-life balance and it is difficult for me to imagine that it is possible not to work or not to think about work after 18:00.

I like to travel with my family. New thoughts and ideas are born mostly during the travel. Even a short trip or business trip changes your mindset. The change of environment allows to look at many phenomena in a new way. Of course, from time to time it is necessary to take a break in the work flow and information noise. Sundays are exclusively for my family.

Khoren Ormanyan talked to Karen Yeghiazaryan

Photos are from Karen Yeghiazaryan's personal archive

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