Scandirent was founded in Russia in 2006 and offers a complete cycle of services for various lifting equipment: rental, sale, maintenance, supplying of spare parts and batteries, etc.
Ljubov Astakhova (on the left) and Irina Kilevaia (on the right) are the owners, and they have been developing their company since their university times. They have organized this business by themselves with offices in Moscow and St Petersburg.
Is it a preconceived idea that women are better business managers than men? Do you have to work harder to prove your leadership skills?
In our industry, there is a stereotype that men are better managers than women in Russia. The attitude towards women can even be called patriarchal. We must prove our competency, our right to manage and develop the business. It is not about the relationships with employees but with partners, competitors, and clients. It is a double-edged sword – on the one hand, we usually must prove this right, but on the other hand – executives from other companies don’t expect high ground decisions and high performance from women, and it is easier to daze them. In this case, women can find a more exciting and unexpected way to solve the issue efficiently.
It is often said that women managers have a more participative management style than men. In your opinion, "myth or reality"?
We can’t speak for all women, but during the planning phase for some women, the person is more important than the result. It doesn’t mean that these people are allowed to make decisions instead of the manager, but it is essential to think about other people. It doesn’t depend on gender too much – it’s mainly about the character and personality.
The management style is changing with the company’s development. When the company is newly formed, its corporate culture is more family-friendly, and in this case, the management style is more participative. But when the company grows and strengthens, the tone becomes more directive. And on the next stage, when the company becomes one of the leaders – the style may return to a participative one, especially with the key employees.
Daily, what do you find most challenging to manage and most rewarding?
The most complex thing in everyday work is responsibility. You are the company’s final frontier, and you must make the final decision and have no right to make a mistake. If you don’t fix the problem, no one will. And for me, it is the most complex but at the same time the most exciting thing. The most enjoyable thing is that you can afford some nice routine, a certain degree of freedom, given that you are the captain of the ship.
And for me, it is hard to be participative – to gather all the opinions and develop a unified position/solution that will be productive. The other tricky thing is to control everything regularly. I do not love the daily routine, but enjoy the hustle a lot – when you’re taking part in the negotiations, business talks, etc. We are not actively involved in the everyday management of the routine processes – we are mainly developing the business itself. The feeling and realization that your brainchild is growing, and operations are moving forward are inspiring.
Would you say "preconceived ideas" if I told you that it is challenging to reconcile professional and personal life?
Being a manager can positively impact personal life, but sometimes it is hard to reconcile your professional life with the family one. And the general strategy is to combine everything, for example, business trips, traveling, etc., or to have an option to take your child to the company’s office.
Being a head of the company makes you more multitasking, allows you to cope with this stereotype. You must develop as a leader – be able to delegate activities and become more organized, and in this case, limited free time helps you do that.
Any advice for young women who want to start a business? And a mantra?
Do not look at the fact that there are “male” and “female” directions. It would be best to focus on other indicators – what are you interested in, what direction is more promising, and what profit you can get. Thanks to this, you will make the most informed decision and find your way to increase your earnings. Finally, you must develop yourself. The crisis in your company is often connected with the personal one. In this case, if you have the habit of self-development – your business will evolve and grow faster and easier