Armine Zakaryan:

Armine Zakaryan:

Leader vs boss

Armine Zakaryan joined Deem Communications in 2011. Now she is the director of the agency, leading the business for over 5 years. As a female boss in the Armenian creative industry, Armine faces the “male vs female boss” stereotype almost every day, yet never gets disappointed. Stereotypes can’t affect the quality of work if you are confident in what you do- this is one of the secrets of her career success. Regional Post talked to Armine about what it is like to be a female director of a company in Armenia.

 

Interview : Amalie Khachatryan   
Photo : Deem Communications

 

“Male and female bosses.” Is there a difference to you?

— There are two approaches- how they treat you and how you feel. Clients usually expect to see a male boss. Just before this meeting we had another case when the client expected to be welcomed by a man in the position of the director. Actually, this is just the beginning of any meeting, afterwards we start speaking, introducing the company and the stereotypes are left behind. It no longer matters if you are a “male or a female boss.”

What are the difficulties of being a female boss?

— First, it is about stereotypes, and second – mistrust. It requires more effort to persuade that you can also be right by being a woman. However, I have been in the industry for more than 10 years now and luckily I can notice a positive change in the attitude.

There are clients who are more open to new and creative ideas and there are those with more traditional mindset. For more conservative clients there always needs to be a second person, preferably a man to reaffirm the rightness of what you said, being a woman, at least for the initial stage.

Any advantages?

— In some cases it is easier for women to handle certain situations, we are more flexible. I am not saying that women are trickier, or they use their charm intentionally but there are cases that are easier for women to handle.

I have been in the same field for years, and my experience helps me a lot in communication and business management, as well as in breaking the stereotypes. As a female director I believe that we can ensure a more balanced working environment in Armenia where professionalism and not gender will matter. Today it still takes a while for some clients to perceive a woman in the position of the director: at first you notice and feel a difference in their attitude even if you don’t want to, however, stereotypes are broken when you get down to business and they see that you take your work seriously. Mostly this happens during meetings and discussions.

Overall, society is not used to seeing female leaders in Armenia. There are very few female employees even in Armenia’s Government or Parliament.

— Indeed, but the number of women leaders is growing. Even small businesses run by women have been growing in number and that is why it has been significantly easier to be a female director over the last few years, compared with the past years. Women have stopped being housewives, now they realize the importance of being self-reliant. Even at home a woman can start her own business which I believe is very important for self-esteem. So, managing to balance family and work is the best case.

Do you manage to balance work and family?

— I have two children and another big family: DEEM team. I have full support and understanding from my family when it comes to work. Sometimes I might work late hours and my family never complains about it.

At the same time DEEM is one big family where we share the same problems and happy moments. This helps us better manage our work and projects. Besides sharing office space and time we also share some leisure time. Teamwork, hiking, and a lot more: this all creates a sense of connectedness, boosts creativity and DEEM spirit.

They say women prefer male bosses and vice versa.

— In my experience I have never faced such a stereotype during a job interview. However, the sooner you deal with and overcome stereotypes in business, the better.

I have noticed that there are more female than male employees at DEEM

— I always want to give my preference to male employees to keep the gender balance but it is not always that it works. Recently we announced two job vacancies and I finally managed to hire men employees. I do our best to improve gender balance at our agency. Actually, it is not about preferring to work with women because it is easier to work with them as a female director. I believe that balance is always essential for any team. The more girls there are in a team, the more emotions there are!

Do you think that people’s attitude has changed towards women or maybe you yourself have changed over 14 years of experience in Armenian market?

— Both have changed. Of course over the years you get used to it and learn how to handle awkward moments in communication. Actually, I don’t get ready for business meetings differently because of the gender of the client: Client is a client. If you have the right ideas and if you are confident in your work, there is absolutely no difference. You just move forward with your ideas – this is what is important. If I am self-confident and I have interesting ideas, that is all what matters.

What are your top 3 strong features as a company director?

— Responsibility, multi-tasking, conflict management skills both internal and external. However, leadership is not only about this, it is an essential quality that you must build over time. It is about trusting and respecting your team members and enjoying their respect in return, it’s about listening to their opinion, encouraging them and boosting the company’s team spirit. These are essential qualities that come together in a good leader. This forms the foundation of any successful business.