Galina Akhmerova: ‘Every child needs support and right people nearby’

The creator of Round career guidance app about her projects and desire to help teenagers choose their career

Tatarstan residents named the republic’s best universities: Kazan State Medical University, Kazan State University of Architecture and Engineering, Kazan National Research and Technological University and University of Innopolis are among the leaders, Kazan Federal University leads the rating. PromRating agency provides the data after a traditional summer research on Tatarstan higher educational institutions. But it is often hard for teenagers to choose a profession. Founder of Darwin Modern Education Accessibility Development Fund, former top manager of BARS Group and creator of Round career guidance app Galina Akhmerova helps them choose and fulfil themselves. In another column for Realnoe Vremya, the expert tells us how she chose this area of work and what to aspire to.

A desire to create such an environment for other teenagers

I was born in a small military town Akhtubinsk, it is a unique place, the aviation capital of Russia. Our town had different areas for children’s development. I was an active kid since my childhood: I did swimming, gymnastics, dance since the age of 7, I was a member of an association of young leaders, Renaissance public organisation, studied in the School of Physics and Technology of Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology part-time. Moreover, in high school, we went to the orphanage, cared about kids and organised different events almost every weekend with my friends. In a word, children taught children.

We had a creative experimental class, we studied English, theatre. We were united and still stay in touch with most classmates. All this laid a foundation for the multifaceted self-fulfilment, and I could try my hand at those areas I liked. With time, all this grew into my projects: a desire to create such an environment for other teenagers.

My dad is a military from Kazan, my mum is from Nizhny Novgorod Oblast. In grade 10, I went on an excursion to Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod Universities. Then the building of the financial university of Kazan with big stairs astonished me. I qualified for free tuition in two fields: the Institute of Computational Mathematics and Information Technologies and the Financial Institute. I left my documents in the Financial Institute because the profession of an economist seemed more romantic.

After Akhtubinsk, Kazan seemed to me so big, it opened so many opportunities. To be honest, I didn’t have a student life because I had to sustain myself financially. I was a tutor, helped students with their course works and theses. I even went to a nightclub for the first time when I was in the last year, it was a graduation ball. I have been lucky in life and I have met good, right people, which I am grateful for. In senior years, I got to BARS Group IT company where I worked from the call centre to the top manager for 15 years.

Wanted to help many children make their life better

The impressions of the first job were remembered for long. We were third-year students and came to work at a call centre, our task was to call the republic’s municipalities and tell them about the introduction of online reports. After two months of internship, three in ten students were offered to stay in the company. Well, they didn’t offer — we got to the management with our proactivity and they had to create jobs for us.

This is how we became those who introduced accounting automation, I supervised five municipalities of Tatarstan. During these trips, we not only explained how the programme worked but also gave classes on digital literacy and demonstrated how a computer operated. It was an interesting experience and fun time. People put it right that at 21 the sky is the limit. You are not afraid when at 9 p.m. you travel from one settlement to another thumbing a lift with many connections to save money. But if I had a daughter, I would not let her go this way.

We try to make sure that every kid and teenager has opportunities for self-fulfilment regardless of the geographical location and financial possibilities

At that moment, I had a different idea of many things, but everything turned out to be even better than I expected. As time went by, with big life experience and knowledge, I wanted to start dealing with projects that can help many children make their destiny better. I founded Darwin Modern Education Accessibility Development Fund. In the fund, we create additional opportunities for kids for their professional development. My experience tells me that every child needs support and right people nearby.

The Round app appeared at the crossroads of IT and a desire to help children choose their career. Creating this platform, I wanted to transmit my core values that have always helped me in life:

  1. Every person is talented in different areas, the most important thing is to try and understand where.
  2. Desires are stronger than possibilities.

We try to make sure that every kid and teenager has opportunities for self-fulfilment regardless of the geographical location and financial possibilities. Perhaps, these teenagers can say one day that they had the Round app in their life that helped me and guided them in the right direction. One can read more about the work of the app on our Yandex.Zen.

I am often asked how I get around. I have three principles of work that perfectly answer this question and help me develop:

  1. “It first takes a team to make successful projects”;
  2. “The competition for staff is higher than for clients”;
  3. “They aren’t your employees, they are your team. Delegate, risk and they will do it.”

Children are happy when parents are happy

My family supports me in all the undertakings. My boys and I make a really great team: my elder son Vadim, second Amir and younger Artyom. I try to engage the kids in all my projects and let them work themselves, my elder sons always have a job in summer. Moreover, when we created the Round app, my elder son and his friends were our focus group, helped us to adapt the text to the youth language. Also, they were the first content managers of the app, made challenges and projects. Amir, 12, helped with making the project a game and did his research on different games, we created terms of reference in this area together.

It is hard for me to handle work and motherhood, but children are happy when their parents are happy.

I always try to attend my kids’ important events (regardless of my plans), to understand every child’s interests, tell them about my business and projects in detail, we cook together at weekends (they love it, the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach) and there are a lot of hugs (this is the toughest thing with boys).

There is nothing more important than family, a happy family.

Galina Akhmerova

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The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.