Interview with one of Russia’s Top Women: Lyubov Simonova
A common complaint is that women in the Venture Capital field and VC investments in women-led business are rare. So we thought we’d introduce you to a woman in venture capital, managing a portfolio that includes investments in women-led businesses in Russia. Lyubov Simonova was kind enough to take some time and answer a few questions for us about her work, path to success, and advice for professional women in Russia and around the world.
Lyubov Simonova, just named one of the Top Ten Power Women in Russia by THE NEXTWOMEN magazine, is a principal at Almaz Capital Partners, a major international technology venture capital firm. Since joining Almaz Capital Partners in 2010, Lyubov has managed Almaz’s internet investment portfolio in Russia. For her prior roles as head of business and strategy development at a private equity firm and at an internet company, and her frequent speaking engagements at entrepreneurial events, she is widely recognized as a leading woman in the Russian digital media, technology, and online industries.
Are there any women-led businesses in the investment portfolio at Almaz capital?
LS: Yes, two of them – Katrin Buckenmaier with TravelMenu, one of the leading online travel companies in Russia and the Ukraine; and Alena Vladimirskaya with our new asset PRUFFI, a recruitment agency that specializes in recruitment for IT and Internet companies through social networks and recommendation systems.
Travelmenu’s distinctive strength is its market-leading product offering with connectivity to over 277,000 hotels, 500 airlines and 70 tour operators.
Among PRUFFI’s clients include MTS, Messenger, Conde NastRussia, Mail.Ru Group, Groupon Russia, HeadHunter, RuTube, PH “Kommersant”, Gazprom-Media, GRAPE, Syncopate, WomanJournal.ru, and more.
From your years in Private Equity and now at Almaz Capital, what key differences do you see in men and women entrepreneurs in Russia?
LS: From the beginning, women need to think about each step forward without making any wrong moves. From the beginning, women need to be more clever, more ambitious, and better in every way than the men entrepreneurs.
What do you think has made you so successful?
LS: I never wanted to be an idol or super successful woman. All of the time, the only thing I focused on was my job, And I made it excellent. From my early childhood I have had the end point in my head. In everything I do professionally, I try to be a professional, even in how I drive my car.
How do you deal with male-dominated environments?
LS: Pretty well – for me it is easy to communicate with men because they are not as complicated as women. It’s just more simple. But it took time to get the men’s respect.
What advice would you give business and professional women in Russia? Other women around the world?
LS: Don’t be afraid to enter the men’s world.
What are your future goals or dreams?
LS: I want my son to be a good person. And he’s the main thing in the life. Everything else is a question of time management. The other thing is to give more knowledge to young people who are just in the beginning of their entrepreneurial life.
Anything else you’d like to share with our global readers?
LS: I want to share the statements that help me every day. One is from Sindey Sheldon’s book The Master of the Game:
“Business is a game, played for fantastic stakes, and you’re in competition with experts. If you want to win, you have to learn to be the master of the game.”
Another is from the legend of the Caesars ring. This message was written on the back side of the ring : “All passes. And this too shall pass.”
I would also encourage women to never forget that the life was given once and you need to make it full of great moments for yourself and for everybody around. The more you give, the more you get. This rule works in the field of business and the same in the field of life. Be positive-minded and everything will be the way you want it to.