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Tesla would have been different without her: Russian woman told about work for Elon Musk

An immigrant from Russia Tatiana Borzova, who now works as a senior manager of Tesla's logistics programs, told the publication Forbes about moving to the United States and his career.

Photo: Shutterstock

Tatyana Borzova is engaged in the optimization of warehouse logistics at Tesla in order to make cars cheaper for the end consumer. Prior to joining Tesla, she coordinated the Northern Distribution Network project to transport goods for the US military and NATO to Afghanistan, and also worked for 10 years in the Danish group of companies AP Moller-Maersk, which accounts for the largest volume of container traffic in the world. ...

She began working with international companies from the start of her career in Russia in 2006, and 10 years later she left for the United States.

“My company had offices in the USA, where I really wanted to go, so at first I thought about transferring, but it turned out to be a daunting task. I realized that this path does not work, and decided to get an MBA (Master of Business Administration, that is, a Master of Business Administration). In fact, this is a very important line in your resume if you have a desire to find a job in the USA and you are not a programmer or an engineer who will be torn away with arms and legs, - says Tatiana. - The rest are not looked for, because the local market is overcrowded and there is very high competition here. For me, the MBA has become a ticket to move and get American work experience. "

The girl notes that she chose the United States for a reason, a number of factors contributed to this.

“I chose the USA for several reasons. Firstly, business education originated in this country and many large international companies are based here. Second, the US has two-year programs, as opposed to European one-year programs. And thirdly, America was more suited to my character, ”she explained.

“I have been applying for two years in a row. In the first year, I was applied to only one school, and even with the lowest percentage of admission. In the second year, I have already applied to six schools - this increases the chances of admission. In addition, the presence of several offers makes it possible to bargain with schools and ask for better conditions, which I did, ”Tatiana details. - MBA is more likely not about acquiring knowledge, but about the development of “soft” skills: communication, teamwork and establishing contacts. "

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Now, according to her, she would have done everything a little differently, but she still does not regret anything.

Also, Tatyana notes that choosing a university for study is also worth several factors: brand, rating, location, quality of teaching, which companies are recruiting students from this school, does it have a certain bias (for example, finance or marketing), gives whether she scholarships, student diversity, especially the percentage of women.

“For me, the decisive factors were the school's rating, culture, location and the scholarship offered. In addition, I applied as a plus to the fact that I am a girl from Eastern Europe with a non-standard experience for a business school, - Tatyana argues. “Historically, men receive business education, so schools tend to attract more women. I knew my profile would add variety to the class. "

Employment in the United States is somewhat different from what Russians are used to - you need to be active, and not wait "by the sea for the weather."

“In the US, the“ I put my resume on the website and wait for someone to contact me ”approach does not work. Here the applicant has to be very active. There is such a thing as an informational interview: you find an employee of the company you want to get to through LinkedIn and offer to call. But not so that he helped to get settled, but to find out what the culture is in the company, what are the pros and cons. This is necessary to understand how everything works inside, and it helps a lot during the interview, - the Russian woman shares her experience. - Submitting a resume through the official website of the company is not always effective. In my experience, this is a black hole: you submit your resume, and it doesn't seem to reach anyone. So I used a contact with a former colleague from AP Moller-Maersk who worked at Tesla. We saw each other only once in Russia, I contacted him a few years later, told about myself and sent my resume, and he transferred it to HR within the company. This is how networking works. "

Tatyana worked at AP Moller-Maersk for 10 years. She worked in both the local and head office. But according to her, if you want to develop, then you need not just work in a company and get a promotion, but change the company along with the promotion. And so she did.

“When I came to AP Moller-Maersk, I was completely green and at the same time studied at the university, so I had room for career growth, but at some point I got bored. If you imagine it as a graph, then first growth, and then a slowdown or even a plateau, ”says Tatiana.

She says career advancement is easier for women in the US. Feminism is developed here. But in Russia, mothers are better protected from the point of view of labor legislation.

“For example, the maximum parental leave is three years. In the US, at best, you will be given three to six months, depending on the company. On the other hand, if a woman stays at home for a long time, then it will most likely be difficult for her to integrate into the work process and continue to grow in the profession, so here they are encouraged to develop more actively, ”the Russian woman notes.

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But in her industry, mostly men work, but Tatyana is not at all embarrassed.

“If you try to remember what happened in Russia, then, probably, there was a slight preponderance towards men, but I will not say that men dominate in logistics. At the beginning of my Tesla career, I went to a meeting with a contractor where 12 men were sitting. Sometimes it was difficult to convey and defend some idea, and now there are a little more men in my team. But, perhaps, such gender inequality is more likely due to the fact that I work with warehouses and production, suggests the immigrant. “When a woman is alone among men at a meeting, it may be uncomfortable for her to offer her idea, even if she is sure she is right.”

Work at Tesla

Initially, the Russian woman did not plan to get into Tesla, she considered it something incomprehensible

“MBA students submit resumes to many companies, and then something will start. It was important for me to find a manufacturing company with a supply chain, since this is my specialization, and there are not very many of them in Silicon Valley, where software development companies prevail. Although at that time I had no idea that I could get into Tesla. It seemed that this was something unattainable, - admits Tatiana. - I was more focused on companies like Amazon or Apple - giants in the field of supply chain management, in which parts are made and assembled in China, then transported and distributed. I had three offers to choose from. I got one from a startup like Tesla that had only a prototype car ready, which is pretty risky. The second offer was from a network equipment company. It was more stable, but when I found out about the offer from Tesla, then, of course, I wanted it there. To be honest, there was no doubt. "

At the company, Tatiana is responsible for warehouses as part of the supply chain, warehousing operations and cost reduction.

“Not all parts come from suppliers directly to the factory. Direct deliveries are possible when the supply chain is well established. My role is to look for the very operations that do not add value, improve processes, sometimes implement processes, look for more efficient solutions for the warehouse operation and reduce costs, - explains the Russian woman. - In addition, I coordinate projects with a cross-functional team: planning department, system engineers, operations team in the warehouse and at the factory, industrial engineers, buyers, logistics and finance. Sometimes it is enough to improve some process inside the warehouse, and sometimes you need to involve a dozen people in order to solve a more global problem. In general terms, I analyze processes and costs, identify problems, look for options to solve them. "

“Like the price of any other product, the cost of a Tesla electric car is made up mainly of the costs of production, logistics, transportation, operating costs and duties,” Tatiana emphasizes.

When big companies run ads, you see them on TV all the time, and huge budgets are spent on it. Between the first and second MBA years, all students complete a summer internship. I worked for Mattel, which makes Barbie dolls, HotWheels cars and Fisher Price toys. I remember there was a giant marketing department there. Tesla doesn't need advertising. Elon Musk's figure replaces advertising budgets. I think that the price of the cars includes the minimum PR costs.

In fact, Tatiana does her best to make the final cost of the product lower, but at the same time it does not lose quality.

“Now there is a trend to reduce the cost of cars so that more people can afford them. It is understood that the final cost may increase depending on the configuration, but the base price remains affordable by simplifying and eliminating additional features such as wing doors. The company strives to make machines more accessible to the mass consumer by constantly cutting costs and streamlining processes, ”she shares the intricacies of the case.

“Transportation costs have a big impact - this is a significant part of the price of any product. It is especially important what kind of transport you use to deliver the goods. Rail is the cheapest option, but not suitable for transatlantic traffic. Further in the increasing price are sea transportation and air freight, - explains Tatiana. - Apple, for example, uses air freight, and this is a huge cost, but the company saves due to lower production costs in China. Until recently, namely the opening of a factory in Shanghai, Tesla cars were assembled only in California. Labor costs are much higher there than in China, so the price of any product assembled here will be higher. However, transportation costs should be considered not separately, but in combination with others: for production, customs clearance, warehousing and distribution. "

At the same time, the entire business and all processes are guided by end customers. Therefore, companies in the United States, in particular Tesla, are very attentive to consumer feedback.

“If they don't like something, they will be heard and the shortcomings will be corrected. Tesla is no exception. For example, I heard from car owners that the service is a little lame. I know that the company listens to feedback, it's just that improvements take time, ”the Russian woman said.

Tesla has a report on gender equality and inclusion. Tatiana says that the company is very careful to ensure compliance with all regulations.

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“I see people with special needs in the office, in wheelchairs, and they are not hired for some secondary tasks - they work on an equal basis with others. We also have the Women in Tesla program, various trainings from female speakers are held, - Tatiana shares. - I believe that the more girls in the company, the better. We bring a slightly different perspective to problem solving, a more granular approach. Sometimes men may not even think about some functionality in a product aimed at girls, and then the female gaze becomes more important than ever. "

The immigrant said that in her entire career, she has not faced discrimination due to the fact that she is a woman. But at the same time, Tatiana cannot say that this is not the case.

“I think this exists in Russia, and, most likely, in the United States too, otherwise there would be no talk on this topic. But I have not faced discrimination, especially when it comes to salaries and hiring. Sometimes, when an employer picks up a resume, he cannot clearly say whether the name of a man or a woman is indicated there, ”the Russian woman suggests.

Once she ran into problems communicating with a company from Pakistan, but later everything worked out. Most likely, the cause of the problem was that Muslims were not used to listening to women. Tatiana had to change the style of communication with them a little, which helped to establish contact.

But she still says that she feels much more comfortable where there is more freedom and opportunities, that is, in the United States.

“The US judicial system is very developed: if a woman suspects gender discrimination and sues the company, it will result in huge reputational risks. Here they will be guided by the arguments why a person considers his opinion to be correct, but not on the floor, ”the immigrant shares.

The Russian woman said that working at Tesla is never boring. The company is constantly changing and developing, and for it this is one of the main factors.

“The drive is important to me, so that there is always something new and interesting, and it’s never boring at Tesla - everything changes very quickly. When I say "very fast," I literally mean every hour. Unlike traditional manufacturers, Tesla implements small design changes on an ongoing basis, '' Tatiana notes. - The car bought today will be slightly different from the car bought yesterday. The company does not stop for a minute, which makes it work at a very high pace. Another plus is that this is a company with a high reputation, and I feel proud when I say where I work. "

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