‘I Have Never Limited Myself to Just One Interest’
Galina Drumova graduated from the Bachelor's programme 'Economics' in 2018 and the Master's programme 'Finance' in 2020. Interested in various spheres since childhood, Galina has tried her hand at retail, audit and IT.
Galina is now the head of the Product Analytics Office in the Exploration and Production Unit at LLC Gazprom Neft-Digital Solutions. In her interview, she talks about extracurricular activities and events at HSE University, women's careers from a mother's perspective, and what it is like to be the head of IT in a large company.
— Did you have any expectations of your studies before admission? Did reality meet your expectations?
— My first expectation was that it would be a very prestigious university where I would be in a 'professional community', a place that gathers the best of the best from all over the country. And that turned out to be true. There was a great competitive environment which made us grow!
My second expectation was related to studies. I loved studying. At school, I gained new knowledge easily and had no problems. But at HSE University, that changed. My expectation that I would continue studying with a minimum of effort proved to be wrong. In my first year, I wasn't at the top of the student rating. I thought that hard work and diligence would be enough, but that was not the case. Studying was hard. During the winter examination period, the second and probably hardest one, I was really upset by my results and even wanted to drop out. My mum double dared me and said: 'Of course, stay in our small, one-company village and work there your whole life.' Her words helped me to pull myself together, and I am enormously grateful for that.
— What difficulties did you face as a bachelor's student? How did you cope with them?
— One difficulty was the curriculum, which was full of new knowledge based on mathematics. My mathematical knowledge was rather basic and weak, so I had to improve it with hard work and in a short time. At school, I had a very active social life and engaged in sports and music. But during my first year at HSE University, I devoted the majority of my time to my studies. I had a motivation that helped me cope with the new study load: I was enrolled in a fee-paying place, so it was important to get transferred to a state-funded one. So, the university's requirements for transferring to a state-funded place supported my desire to be at the top of the rating and study well.
— Did economics provide a solid foundation for advanced studies in finance? Or did you have to study a lot to catch up to your peers?
— I would say that it is very easy to master new things if you have an HSE degree. The university has created a solid base which can be easily adapted to very different tasks. So all the challenges related to advanced studies of finance on the master's programme and work tasks were easy to overcome with few personal resources. At the moment, my work does not really deal with finance, but when making decisions, I use clear logic and pay close attention to the details—HSE University is the best at teaching that.
— How did you get on with other HSE students?
— As early as on the first trip for first-years, our group grew very close. Of course, there was competition between us, but at the same time, we supported each other. I remember that it was very traumatic for us that every year, the groups were mixed up. But on the other hand, we got to know the whole cohort and made friends. This created amazing relationships within our team of 120 people! Everyone had their own unique features, but I have never felt such unity with so many people. As for close relations after graduation, I still keep in touch with many people. I even work at the same company as some of them. I have met with others in very unexpected places. In fact, one of my coursemates is covering for me while I am on maternity leave. HSE University connects people!
— What is your current position and where? What are your job responsibilities?
— I am currently in my tenth month of maternity leave. But my current workplace is LLC Gazprom Neft-Digital Solutions. We are digitalising the business processes at PJSC Gazprom Neft, and I am the head of the Product Analytics Office in the Exploration and Production Unit. The service is being implemented by a team of product analysts who join projects and help to identify performance indicators—product metrics used to understand how to develop the product further and track the general dynamics. This is painstaking work which requires a lot of attention because it is related to business analysis and project management. In general, product analysis is a rather new direction in this field. There are a lot of blind spots and you have to adapt to each situation and match the business processes of the company, which have already existed for years. My responsibilities include providing each digital project with a product analyst who has the necessary skills, monitoring the quality of their work, and managing our constantly developing business processes.
— What is the corporate culture like at Gazprom Neft? What features might attract candidates apart from the position and professional challenges?
— I am very loyal to my company, as there is an atmosphere that helps you to develop. I know people who join this company with certain knowledge and can watch how they 'boost' their skills in the process. The company carefully selects its staff, just like HSE University selects its students. Gazprom Neft hires only the best, the people who have proved their strengths and are sincerely passionate about their job. The company supports its employees in return. One aspect of the corporate culture at Gazprom Neft is the numerous corporate clubs. I'll name just some of them: track and field, volleyball, football, tennis, swimming, rock climbing, even a book club, board games and language clubs. For example, I was an active participant in the running club. Thanks to the company, I took part in many marathons. It creates a special corporate spirit when you and your colleagues get somewhere, run as one and share hobbies. I've come to love volleyball. Even during maternity leave, I can attend the club. Whatever your interests are, you will find like-minded people. As an employee, you will get an opportunity both to grow as a professional and develop your hobbies and interests.
— You recently had a child. Are you planning to devote yourself to motherhood or go back to work as soon as possible?
— Before my maternity leave at the beginning of 2022 (the baby was born in May 2022), I thought that after three months I would understand what it was like to be a mother, would automate everything in some way and get help from family or a nanny. Then I would go back to work. As a head, I had just built my team, lined up the processes, and I had to leave the office, even though it was for such an amazing reason. But I am very happy to be a mother! I realised that there was nothing scary about a long maternity leave, as I had already completed a big work task and I could immerse myself in motherhood. I'd like to say that a career is not the most important thing (though I am quite a career-oriented person) and that having a child can be one of the best things in life.
— Is it hard for women to return to the career race after maternity leave? Have your perceptions or priorities changed?
— For me, a career has always been secondary to family. In my case, I can return to the company whenever it is convenient for me. But it's a different story if you had been working at a company for a short time. There is a chance that it will be harder for you to restore ties with the team after maternity leave.
— What is your next career goal?
— One of my goals will most certainly be career growth in the company. I like my job—it gives me energy and satisfaction. Our office is still developing; it is also like a child in some way. I can see that there is a big future ahead of us. In short, I am motivated to do creative and painstaking work.
— Do you want to develop in fields outside your current job?
— I have never limited myself to just one interest. In my career, I first worked in retail, then audit, and now IT. Until we have everything robotised and automatised, we will need skilled IT specialists. Afterwards, we will need them to support all these systems. In the future, it could be anything!
As for development outside my profession, in my case, it would be sport. I used to like running, but now I enjoy volleyball. Of course, my family is a big driving motivator! Even though I like working and eagerly engage in career development, my family always comes first.
— Do you have a hobby which helps you to maintain a work-life balance?
— I think the word 'hobby' simplifies everything, so I will name two of my favourite passions: my family and sport. Before my child was born, sport was a way for me to get an energy boost. But now my child gives me a lot of energy and I get emotionally recharged by spending time with my family. They really help and support me. They are the people with whom you go through life, develop yourself, and create something bigger. It is an active position both in career and life. This creativity helps to maintain a work-life balance.
— What three words do you associate with HSE University-St Petersburg?
— Environment, quality, and success.