“All difficulties fade away day by day” – Success Story

“All difficulties fade away day by day” – Success Story

07 October 2019, 13:19 1977
At just 25 years old, her goals, dedication and hard work have helped her grow fast in her career. Her motto in life is ‘If I can achieve my goals through hard work, why would I waste time?’. She sees the secret of success in clear vision and hard work.
She believes that if one wants to achieve success and fights till the end, he will definitely win. Today, we interviewed Cluster PR & Marketing Manager at Dubai-based Zaya Living Company and Al Barari community – Ayan Alieva.

Ayan was born and raised in Moscow. At the age of 13, she moved to Baku with her family and continued her studies at lyceum No. 6. After graduating, she pursued her education at the Azerbaijan Tourism and Management University and further applied for a double-degree program with the Austrian IMC University of Applied Sciences. "I was one of two students selected for the exchange semester in the home university in Austria and I can proudly state that it was a life-changing experience for me. That’s when I first realized the opportunities available abroad and decided to do my internship in Europe. Unfortunately, when I got the job offer my family recommended against it as they believed it was too soon for me to work alone abroad and I had to move back to Baku. Nevertheless, I got an amazing cross-training opportunity at the JW Marriott Absheron Baku. I was offered to continue working after my internship and I found it a great opportunity at that time and despite it being very tiring, I decided to stay. In my senior year, other than 2 universities I also had a job, but that period was really exciting for me as I would learn something new every day. Upon graduation, I was promoted to the Sales & Marketing department and a year later I moved to Park Inn by Radisson Hotel as the PR & Marketing Manager at the age of 22. I believe it was necessary to take that step as building a marketing structure from scratch is important for every senior employee and it was a very challenging and pleasant journey. After a while, I decided that I needed to work in a different market in order to develop and that was when I started planning to move to the UAE. I traveled to Dubai for 12 days and dedicated that time purely for job search and on my way back I already had one offer, but I had to refuse it as it didn’t match my expectations in many ways and 3 days later I received an offer from Zaya Nurai Island – the so-called Maldives of the Middle East.

- At the age of 22, you were already in a managerial position in one of the leading international hotels. What pushed you to move to another country?
- Despite my willingness to work in the Marketing and PR field in Baku, I didn’t see the future there. No matter what position you hold, responsibilities remain more or less the same and at that time the environment and opportunities to implement my plans and projects were quite limited. So I decided to take action. I have always considered Dubai as a great market for PR. But I never thought that I would learn so much in less than 3 years. Honestly, income was never my priority. I've been working since I was 19, even though my parents have always supported me. I always wanted to learn.

- At the age of 19, without needing to, you were both studying and working. And you also attended dance classes. 2 universities, work, dance classes… wasn’t it hard?
- True, it was very tiring. Sometimes I would go to bed at 4 AM and wake up early in the morning to study for the exams. Our program was not easy, we had professors coming from abroad for a week to teach the entire week, 10 hours a day with a small break and at the end of the week, we had a final test. There was no time to procrastinate.  But generally, I actually enjoy working under pressure. Whenever work is slow due to low season or other reasons, I come up with a project myself.  Time is of great value to me, I do not want to waste it. If I am able to improve somehow and what I do is actually useful, tiredness and difficulty are not a barrier for me. I’m keen to learn every day.

- You are currently working on a unique and massive project that you have developed, tell us more about it?
- One of our projects is located on a private island in Abu Dhabi, the entire island is developed as a Maldivian style resort. The idea is to organize a luxury music festival on the island from 22-24 November this year. It is a very big project not only for the resort but for the entire Abu Dhabi as a destination. We pitched the project to the Department of Culture and Tourism and after a few months of negotiations, we got their full support. Abu Dhabi has the cleanest beaches, why not position it as the best beach club destination? It is a big project and a huge part of my learning curve. As someone, who has never organized an event at this scale, this indeed is a priceless experience. Given that the festival venue is the actual remote island, it makes things even more complicated, in other words, more exciting for me.

-How do you plan your time? Sometimes people complain about a lack of time, what about you?
- I love planning. But to be honest, it doesn’t always work as per the plan. Things might change last minute. Even if its off-plan, I’m always happy to get things done, it gives me a feeling of accomplishment. I’m a very social person, and most of my friends are not fond of planning, hence I mostly adjust to last-minute plans and to be fair it usually turns out to be even more fun. And when it comes to work and new projects, time is never an issue for me.

- You have worked in the hospitality industry both in Azerbaijan and abroad. What are the differences?
- The difference is crucial. The biggest difference is the pace of work. Working in JW Marriott Absheron Baku has been a wonderful experience for me and it was indeed a great start. But like everywhere else, at some point you stop developing. I love when the job gets done fast and efficiently. And unfortunately, things move slower in Baku. Eventually, it becomes boring to me.

- You don't like taking risks.
- Yes, I’m not fond of risks. I am not for risk but for logic. Every time I start a new project or take a step, I research and I process it. Usually, the risks of my decisions are minimal. But of course, ultimately if I want to build a successful business in the future, I should take risks. Without risks, there is no business. But for the time being, risks are not a necessity.

- What does one need to succeed? Knowledge, luck, connections?
- My family is my biggest luck. They supported every decision I took. Some people are facing issues with that, especially women. But despite your family's support, once you finish your studies, I find it incorrect to expect your parents to support you further. As long as we are young, we should know the value of time and try ourselves in various industries. You can't rely on a job you got only because of your family connections. I believe one should work from an early age to find out what he truly enjoys, what he wants to do in life, what field he actually wants to work in. For me personally, the most important factor for success is diligence.
- You mentioned women’s career limitations. What should a lady do to achieve her dreams?
- Of course, even now women still face many challenges. If you don’t have your family by your side, even looking for a place to live becomes complicated. But in my opinion, a person can control all their desires and feelings in their mind. If you pursue a positive mindset, you are less likely to fail. Plus you can always create an extended family by having great friends around. Every step you take will bring you pleasant emotions rather than anxiety. For instance, some ladies find it almost impossible to move abroad. I really want to spread the message – it is not that difficult to live abroad. All you need is to learn English and you can go anywhere, learn new things, meet different people. All difficulties fade away day by day.

- Have you ever faced an age issue? Sometimes the older generation doesn’t take young specialists serious.
- I have encountered such issues in Azerbaijan more often. Due to my age, I was not taken seriously. Whenever I switch to a new department or a new company, I have to prove myself from scratch. In their minds, most people don’t see what such a young girl can bring to the table. Generally, my attitude at work is friendly. My boss is the same. This is the healthiest working environment. Since there is no actual boss-employee relationship, work is done more quickly and efficiently, and most importantly everyone is genuinely happy. If you are not happy at your workplace, you should switch to something that brings you joy. There is no need to be afraid of change.
- Our traditional question. What is the secret of success?
- To me, the greatest secret of success is self-confidence. Even if no one else believes in you, you have to believe in yourself. You should know what you want at all times and stick to it. Never take a step back. Fight until you win. Don’t quit even if everyone around tells you that you will not succeed, don't believe it and just listen to your own gut. Then everything will be great.

Aygun AZİZ