On the eve of the First Youth Internet Governance Forum (Youth RIGF), Anna Nesterova, a speaker of the "Digital Economy" section and Board chairperson of the export platform Global Rus Trade, told Gazeta.ru about her own career path, the difficulties facing e-commerce companies and opportunities for women in the Russian IT industry.
During the Youth RIGF, Ms. Nesterova will not only speak to the profile section but will also present an award in the "Women's IT Leadership" category. Today you are a successful woman leader who has worked in the IT sphere for a long time. How did you achieve this and why did you decide to choose this particular field?
I am a financier by training. For 10 years I was the founder and CEO of "Tsentr Capital", one of the largest investment companies in Russia, with a combined turnover of more than 40 billion rubles.
Today my main project is the Russian electronic trading platform GlobalRusTrade.com. I was the first to come up with the idea of creating such a platform in 2015 at the Krasnoyarsk Economic Forum when its participants discussed measures to support small business and trade cooperation between companies in Russia and Latin American countries. The project was actively supported by Russia's Ministry of Economic Development and initially called for the creation of a portal of mutual trade for Latin American, South-East Asian and BRICS countries.
Today, Global Rus Trade is a fully functioning global platform which operates in 113 countries in 11 languages. How well organized are the international electronic trade platforms in Russia today? What challenges do they still have to face?
Our marketplace is the country's only national electronic platform that promotes Russian goods and services for export without restrictions by country or product category. Other international e-commerce platforms in Russia are mainly operated by foreign players (Alibaba, eBay and others).
It should be understood that in order to promote domestic business, it is necessary to popularize the national marketplace both in the domestic and foreign markets. Entering a foreign market is a difficult and constant job, doing it requires more effort than Russian small and medium businesses (SMBs) can afford to make.
Few SMBs realize what e-commerce is all about, little do they know how to work on marketplaces and how to create a quality electronic catalog of their goods. Russian manufacturers are often not ready to export their products on their own, so the electronic marketplace GlobalRusTrade.com comes as the only accessible export channel for Russian businesses in the B2B and B2C sectors.
Our experts provide information support on FEA issues, accompany the entire process from ordering goods to their delivery to the buyer, and assume all the risks involved in customs clearance. Do you think if the IT sphere has become more open for young specialists? What qualities and skills are important for them to develop to gain a foothold in this field?
The IT sphere is now one of the most attractive in terms of employment. Previously everyone wanted to become cosmonauts, but now they want to become programmers.
In Russia, the IT industry is dominated by young people.
Thus, according to GeekBrains, the average age when people enter the field is 20-22 years old. So, the issue of openness in this industry is more relevant for the older generation.
Today, in addition to technical competencies it is extremely important to develop soft skills in the IT sphere: power of competent persuasion, creative thinking, emotional intellect and ability to cooperate.
Any professional should get a fundamental education and continue to learn throughout life, keep abreast of innovations and study modern trends.
When working with IT business our company also realized the importance of improved digital literacy. This realization launched a social educational IT project called "Girls as Decision-Makers" providing digital education to schoolgirls in the early stages of career guidance. The project has already been successfully implemented in several Russian regions, and now we are looking into creating a similar program for entrepreneurs. Are women in the IT sphere still the exception or rather than the rule today? What changes have you personally noticed since you embarked on your career?
The IT sphere is developing rapidly. Not only technologies are becoming obsolete, but such gender stereotypes are also becoming a thing of the past. According to various data, the share of women in IT ranges from 15 to 30%, and in the next few years this figure will increase to 40%.
Today it's hardly surprising to see a female developer or a female product manager. I have never encountered stereotypes on this issue at work, and in our company, young women make up more than 75% of the personnel.
I do not see any direct barriers to successful development of women in IT, the only barriers are in the heads. I prefer to think positively, removing boundaries.
Now there are huge opportunities for online training: free courses and lectures from top universities. Women are participating in e-commerce, creating digital content, getting jobs through digital apps. This was not such common practice even 10-15 years ago. At the First Youth Internet Governance Forum, you will be presenting the Women's IT Leadership award. How important do you think it is to separately recognize women's IT successes at large events like this? What are your expectations of the Forum?
The more often and more actively we talk about women's successes in IT, the faster the breakthrough will be made. Popularization of such stories will inspire more women and girls to create their own business and remove existing stereotypes in society. Women have a great business potential, which they can and should tap and exploit.
I am overwhelmed with pride for our women who successfully combine the roles of being a business owner, wife and mother. It is very motivational, so I am looking forward to participating in the Forum and meeting with Russian female entrepreneurs. Let us recall that eligible for the award are any female participants aged 18 to 30 who work in the information technology industry and have launched their own projects, built a successful brand or transformed their company's work. Applications are accepted at the forum site
(http://youth.rigf.ru/#apply ) until March 29, 2021. When selecting winners, the jury will take into account project presentations or detailed descriptions to be attached to their applications including testimonials (links to the website, pages in social media, benchmarking, etc.).