Interview of Kseniya Lvovsky, World Bank Country Manager to 'Monitor' magazine

March 5, 2012

Interview of Kseniya Lvovsky, World Bank Country Manager "Monitor" magazine

Ms. Lvovsky, you are Country Manager in the Tirana WB office and you have a long carreer in the WB. Can you tell us what is the key of your success?

Answer: For me, the key is to enjoy what you are doing, to try new things and not be afraid to recognize and learn from mistakes. Working at such a global and diverse institution as the World Bank, it is also important to respect different views, cultures, and experiences. Development is a process of learning for all of us, so willingness to constantly learn and effectively share what you have learned with the others is another key qualification.

In the last years the WB office in Tirana has also been run by another woman (Camille Nuamah) is a simple incidence or a Bank strategy?

Answer: This is coincidence for Albania and, at the same time, part of a broader World Bank strategy to achieve 50-50 gender balance at managerial positions.

Your country of origin is Russia. Where do Russian women managers change from the Albanian ones (base on the opinion you have created so far). What are strong or weak points for each? What about you, personally?

Answer: So far, I find more similarities than differences. Both Albanian and Russian women have good access to education and, formally, equal opportunities; however, deep societal traditions of male dominance and superiority curtail these opportunities in practice when it comes to senior positions. Women managers have to be several times as smart, talented and hard-working to be considered seriously, and even when they are, they are still often given second, not the first, roles. On the positive side, the attitudes are changing, and in the right direction.

Is it a difficult or easy task to manage the WB office in Tirana? (taking into consideration that you need to give some time strong messages for the economy and politics in a country impacted by the global financial crisis)?

Answer: I am fortunate to have excellent colleagues at the WB office, whose support is very helpful in delivering difficult messages, when it is needed.  Overall, I find working in Albania very interesting and rewarding, with a lot of willingness to take up our messages and advice. On many issues, our views are similar with the government, or reflect somewhat variant but equally valid ways of getting to the same goal. Most of our differences are resolved in a spirit of collaboration and mutual learning, which, as I noted above, is key to success at the World Bank.

In your opinion what are some challenges for women managers? What would be your advice?

Answer: Managing jobs can be very consuming. It is important to remember that there is more to life and happiness. Women’s great advantage is that it is easier for them to accept a mistake. In a still man-dominated business world, this is often taken as a weakness, while I consider it a sign of strength and confidence. Women managers should not try to adjust their behavior and mentality to a “male culture”, as they sometimes feel pressured to; they should remain themselves, and the culture will adjust.

You are a mother of two girls? What are some advices you give to them? Do you have any impact in their carrier path and how?

Answer: One advice they have found helpful and still follow is not to get upset about small things that are not truly important, like a lost piece of jewelry or a cell phone, or a stolen bicycle, for example. When such things happened, I always told them (and myself when it happened to me): look, everyone who we care about is well, that is all what matters, let’s move on. On career, they know how much I enjoy my job, and they want to be able to enjoy their future profession as much.
What have you learned from your experience so far? What is your next ambition...?

Answer: Never stop learning, never assume that you know better than others, never give up on something you believe in. Future plans? My husband and I consider moving to Albania from the US, where we lived for the past 20 years, one of the best decisions we made. We are thinking about a posting in another country with a large World Bank program, possibly in Africa or Asia.