Sophia Azizian

Sophia Azizian

EY Partner, CIS Talent Leader, EWW Sponsoring Partner | Russia

To begin with, it is indeed hard for me to choose just one of the great roles you’ve named, ranging from Entrepreneur to Muse, as I believe that we, women, do have this magic power to combine so many skills and interests and live a balanced life.

However, I would describe myself first and foremost as a Citizen: I guess it is in this role that I have the most influence over the world, business and society. I understand this role in its broad sense: by “Citizen” I mean working for a company which attaches great importance to corporate responsibility and support for entrepreneurship. And I’m proud to say that we at EY do not just create equal opportunities for men and women but promote such opportunities, and I contribute to this process as much as I can.

I believe that Margaret Thatcher was right when she said, “If you want something said, ask a man; if you want something done, ask a woman.” Yet I believe that women are still underestimated as professionals. I have more than 20 years of experience providing audit services working alongside men and solving the most complicated issues. I have been involved in a number of engagements for a wide range of companies in various industries, including oil and gas – which is not a traditional sphere for women. Luckily, EY is indeed an equal opportunities employer and my example proves it. Unfortunately, this is not the issue with many businesses in Russia and women still need support starting a business or making a brilliant career. I travel a lot and meet female entrepreneurs and top managers all over the world, I have business ties in the Middle East, Americas and Europe, and everywhere I go I meet great women who share their stories of success. Each time, I think how inspiring they are and how many opportunities for women are still unexploited.

I often reflected whether there was a way for me personally to contribute to improving the situation, and I got my chance in 2013 when EY Global launched Entrepreneurial Winning Women in Russia and I became the Sponsoring Partner for this initiative. The program aims to support women in business and women entrepreneurs, create an established platform for networking opportunities, share success and motivate women towards professional development and success. Our program includes both education and networking events held throughout the year and a competition for successful female entrepreneurs and top managers. Today, our close-knit and friendly community unites over 500 outstanding women who inspire each other, share business experience and even cooperate as business partners. In today’s Russia, it is very important to create and promote role models among female entrepreneurs, as this helps many women believe in their own abilities and finally start their own businesses or build successful careers.

It is no secret that one of the main challenges for a businesswoman is work-life balance. I’m not just a businesswoman, I am a wife and a mother to two school-age kids, who need my love and attention, so even in my busiest times I do find time for my family. Traditionally, we spend the weekend together, which makes us all happy and enables me to work even better.

Do you remember the old proverb “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? It applies to any working woman who needs leisure time, be it time for family, sports or hobbies. So, as a Citizen and EWW ambassador, I try to promote a healthy and balanced way of life even for women, as today we are very overloaded with duties and responsibilities, and sometimes we just have to stop and give ourselves a break.

Finally, as a citizen and an active member of the EWW community, I try to share my experience and give advice to those who stand at the beginning of their career. One of my know-hows goes like that: remember that any success has its price and is earned by hard work. Don’t be afraid to work and leave your comfort zone and do something extraordinary; at the same time, never compare yourself with others but only with the previous version of yourself.