On this segment of Women In Marketing, we are joined by Natalia Vasilyeva who is VP for Marketing at Anzu. Whilst many sectors of the world’s economy have suffered substantially due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the gaming industry saw a boom as people spent more time on their devices and consoles. Natalia shares with us the success Anzu enjoyed due to the demand for in-game advertising. Let’s learn more about her
LET’S GET PERSONAL
THANK YOU FOR TAKING THE TIME TO PARTICIPATE IN OUR WOMEN IN MARKETING SERIES, NATALIA. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR MEMORIES GROWING UP?
I was born in Minsk, Belarus. I grew up during the super rough post-soviet times. I have many great memories from my childhood and all the summers I spent in the countryside exploring nature. But I also remember the feeling of instability and the overall dark mood connected with my country’s bad financial state back then. It impacted my family as well as myself.
WHAT WERE YOU LIKE IN YOUR HIGH SCHOOL/COLLEGE YEARS?
I was super curious, ambitious, and a dreamer who spent a lot of time visiting theatres and digesting world literature masterpieces as I was considering studying for a degree in journalism. The dark side of me, however, still found some time to party!
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULD FEEL NO SHAME FOR NOT SHARING!
I have a sweet tooth, and since I’ve been living in Israel for a few years, I’d die to have my favourite Raf coffee (a popular drink found only in CIS countries!) from a local coffee shop in Minsk and an almond croissant from my beloved Brioche bakery!
IMAGINE WAKING UP $10 MILLION RICHER TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Oh, that’s a tough one!
I would fulfil my dream of supporting a disadvantaged children’s fund as well as a CIS-based homeless animals’ foundation. And I’m talking about spending both money and time on these activities.
On top of that, I’d invest in some promising startups and several trusted funds. After all, money generates money!
WHAT IS THE ONE INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T FIND ON YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE? ANY HIDDEN TALENTS PERHAPS? PREVIOUS WOMEN IN MARKETING CANDIDATE, ANASTASIA HAMEL SAYS THAT SHE CAN BREATHE FIRE!
Apart from speaking five languages, I can wiggle my ears 🙂
CAREER AND WORKPLACE
WHAT ENCOURAGED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN MARKETING? AFTER ALL, MOST OF US GREW UP WANTING TO BE DOCTORS, RIGHT?
I studied my first degree in Linguistics and English. During this time, I became fascinated with the language and slogans many of the world’s leading brands like Nike and Apple used in their campaigns to engage consumers, moving them and building brand affinity for their many products and services. And so upon graduating, I decided to pursue a career in marketing and haven’t looked back since!
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
I’m a #Teamcoffee and Nespresso fan! 🙂
I have my ‘wake-up’ morning routine followed by my fav coffee rituals. I have some me-time in the morning. The lovely smell of strong aroma allows me to introspect and just be. Sometimes, an inspiring book accompanies my coffee time to help get my day off to a good start.
THE PANDEMIC DISRUPTED OUR ROUTINES AND DAILY COMFORTS. HOW BEST DO YOU MAINTAIN A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
To stay sane during the pandemic, I shift between activities and switch my brain off from work during the weekends.
Due to restrictions from international travelling and real vacations, my family and I have switched to daycations. These consist of daily trips during the weekends, exploring nearby historic places and natural parks (if there is no complete lockdown!). These help fill the days with emotions making every weekend feel like a week, rather than just two days! They help me stay sane and switch my mind off from the daily work routine.
WORKING FROM HOME/HYBRID MODEL OF WORKING MAY SOON BECOME A REALITY FOR MOST ORGANISATIONS GLOBALLY. WHAT’S YOUR TAKE ON REMOTE WORK AND WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF YOUR CHALLENGES AS WELL AS WAYS YOU’VE MITIGATED THESE?
I’ve been working from home for over three years now, so it didn’t feel like a massive change. In my experience, work productivity and ROI are much higher without coffee breaks and small-talk with co-workers — although this is something I do miss! I nail more hours, as it’s challenging to draw a line between work and home now. This is an issue for most people — numerous studies reveal that people have been working more hours during the pandemic.
ACCORDING TO A REPORT COMPILED BY MCKINSEY, THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC HAS HAD A NEGATIVE EFFECT ON WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE. THE REPORT FURTHER ILLUSTRATES THAT WOMEN HAVE INCREASINGLY BECOME MORE EXHAUSTED AND SUFFER FROM BURNOUT AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS PROVIDE THE NECESSARY SUPPORT FOR WOMEN AS WELL AS MOTHERS?
I can relate to that!
Since the pandemic has been with us for a while and taking a holiday to ‘survive’ is not an option, I think that first of all, organizations need to acknowledge that women do suffer. It’s not an excuse or an unwillingness to work.
To avoid it, businesses should offer flexibility concerning office hours and remote working. Sometimes it just helps to hear, ‘ hey, it’s fine for kids to make an appearance during every second Zoom meeting. Everybody is in the same boat”.
2021 AND BEYOND
ALL THINGS CONSIDERED, HOW HAVE YOU BEEN SINCE THE START OF THE PANDEMIC? ANY PIVOTAL MOMENTS IN YOUR PERSONAL OR PROFESSIONAL LIFE YOU CAN SHARE WITH US?
I’ve become more stable mentally, and I feel as though I’m ready to operate in any type of environment :). The pandemic provided a massive boost to gaming, and in-game advertising has been growing on steroids ever since! My team has doubled in size over the past 12 months, and it’s so exciting to see how a nascent technology can evolve. It’s been amazing to be part of the journey.
KNOWING WHAT YOU KNOW TODAY AND IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Trivial advice that many women still don’t follow – Love yourself, trust the Universe and take things easy. I’d also recommend studying and socializing as much as possible before giving birth!
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS?
A lot 🙂
My top 4 are:
- Master surfing while I’m living close to the sea
- Study art
- Learn how to read food and cosmetic labels
- Start sorting my waste more seriously and improve my recycling
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR SHEROES?
The master of self-making, Princess Diana!
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING?
Although I have my Kindle, paperback still wins in the majority of cases. I usually read more than one book at a time, and I try to mix genres. At the moment, I’m reading three books;
1/ ‘Dao of life’ a business book by Russian female politician and journalist
2/ a well-known ‘Games people play‘ by Eric Berne
3/ and a motivational ‘Lean In‘ by Facebook’s COO Sheryl Sandberg.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
Juggling work, home life, and my books, I don’t find much time for TV. However, I do a lot on my Coursera watchlist!
WHAT WOULD YOU COME BACK AS IN THE NEXT LIFETIME CAREER-WISE? DO YOU THINK YOU MISSED A CALLING?
At the moment, I feel I’m in the right place. However, part of me would love to become a yoga and fitness instructor and go deeper into nutrition and naturopathy.
WE ABSOLUTELY LOVE HOW FORBES CURATES THEIR MARKETING-CENTRIC CONTENT. HAVE YOU HAD A CHANCE TO READ THROUGH THEIR CMO NEXT 2021 FEATURE? WHILST ON THE TOPIC OF GREAT MARKETEERS, WHEN YOU RETIRE ONE DAY, HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO BE REMEMBERED AS A PROFESSIONAL?
I love all their lists, not only the marketing ones.
I’d want to be associated with Innovative Marketers Transforming Business In a Changed World as that’s exactly what we’re doing at Anzu!
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
With Covid-19, travelling has become more challenging than ever. But thank God, I have a chance to at least talk regularly to the people I care about and love! 🙂
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING FOR AMAZING WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO GET IN TOUCH WITH?
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Be data-driven, stay true to yourself, watch the trends, and think omnichannel.
THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME NATALIA. WE HOPE THIS INTERVIEW WILL INSPIRE FUTURE LEADERS AND OTHER WOMEN IN MARKETING. HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOU AND YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Thank you for having me! I’d love to stay in touch – feel free to reach out to and follow me on LinkedIn. If you’d like to learn more about Anzu’s recent news and accomplishments as well as stay up-to-date on the in-game advertising news, welcome to our corporate LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook accounts!