Susanna Melkumyan: FINCA Agatangeghos Branch Senior Business Development Specialist
Dreaming of being a math teacher all her life, Susanna Melkumyan graduated from the Polytechnic Institute with a degree in mechanical engineering and began her career at the Sisian knitwear factory as the head of the human resources department. She then went on to work in the Masis shoe factory and only due to a happy coincidence she found herself at FINCA, were she fulfills her duties as a loan officer with great devotion and diligence to this day.
Susanna, how did you start working at FINCA?
While working in Sisian, I regularly came to Yerevan on business trips. During one of those trips I met my future husband and after starting a family with him, I moved to Yerevan and devoted the next 5 years to raising our children. Then, at one point, we needed additional funding to expand our family business so I applied to FINCA for a loan. I had been a FINCA customer for about a year when one of the managers asked me if I’d be interested in applying for the role of a loan officer since there was a vacancy. I applied and joined FINCA in 2000 as a loan officer.
I remember the day of the interview like it was yesterday. My daughter was still young and I had to find someone to babysit her while I went to the interview. I didn’t manage to find anyone so I took her with me, thus making the day of the interview memorable not only for me but also for her.
As a woman, have you ever felt discriminated against at work or have there been any occasions when the preference was given to a man rather than you?
I’ve never felt such discrimination. My path has always been clear, I’ve paved my way with my hard work and my way of thinking. I believe that a person with a mathematical mindset perceives life with more accuracy. I remember an incident form the day of my interview at FINCA; we were a group of 12 and a woman named Olga, who had arrived from Russia specifically for this occasion, was conducting the test. She gave us a task and let us discuss the solution among each other and exchange opinions. Despite this, each of us solved the task in our own way, we even had different answers. Olga collected the papers and didn’t even look at them. It was an experiment to see our communication skills, logic, and ability to help our colleagues and listen to their opinions. In the end, 6 of us were accepted to work at FINCA. After all this, what kind of discrimination can we talk about? And although I had no prior experience in working in finance, I got into the job without a second thought and later achieved excellent results.
Have you ever thought about changing your job?
I never thought about it. I feel good here, loved. I’m communicative by nature and this job gives me an opportunity to communicate with people, and when the aim of the communication isn’t just conversation but being useful to the client, contributing to their financial and business success, then I get double the satisfaction from my job. I’ve attempted to change my position in the past but soon realized that I’m most effective as a loan officer.
Having worked in finance for 20 years, how do you feel about money? What do you prefer to spend it on?
I have been working in finance for a long time but I can’t say I have a good relationship with money. I haven’t learned how to deal with money and save it yet. I mostly spend a lot and like buying clothes. I think I’m much younger in spirit and like making myself happy with small things.
If you had the opportunity to change, improve or innovate something at FINCA, what would you do?
I would try to keep the justified experience of the past. Often when implementing new ideas, the old way of doing things is completely ignored or devalued. For me, previous experiences hold great importance.
Susanna, how do you feel about equality between men and women? Do you feel that the two genders are equal?
To me, there’s no difference between a man and a woman. We live equally and work equally. It’s true, that there are certain characteristics which set them apart, and it’s natural, but I see the roles of men and women as equal both in everyday life and at work. I myself never hesitate to express my opinion or argue with a man if I have something to say.
What is the key to your professional success?
I think the fact that I give a loan to a client as if I were giving that loan to myself; that is the number one principle I am guided by. I assess the client’s solvency very objectively, and before making a final decision, I put myself in the client’s shoes to try to understand if I were in their place, would I be able to repay the loan.
As a credit specialist with many years of experience, do you think women in Armenia have the opportunity to generate ideas and bring them to life?
Of course they do. Women are very flexible, endowed with intuitive thinking, if you give them a loan, you can definitely be sure that they will succeed because women are ambitious, it’s not often that they stop midway. They are also responsible in making their repayments on time.
What do you consider a woman’s mission?
In my opinion, a woman’s mission is to be happy in any situation. And now, as I look back at my life, I can say that I am happy, both as a woman and as a professional, since I have always felt my husband’s love and support and the appreciation of my clients. I have often heard my clients say that I am an inspiring woman, that if I’m the one approving their loan, then they’ll have success.
Is there a woman who inspires you?
Meryl Streep, as a successful actress who has won many Oscars.
What’s your biggest regret?
The only thing I regret is not spending enough time with my kids. I have two children, my son graduated from the University of Tartu with a Master’s degree and now works in one of the best IT companies in Estonia. My daughter lives in Yerevan and has a very successful career in IT.
I miss my birthplace, the village of Lor in Sisian, where I lived a very happy childhood, enjoying the wonderful nature of Sisian, the energy of the mountains, the air and the water. The life I lived in the village is incomprehensible to my children today.
What is life?
Life is the time given to us to carry out our mission. I sometimes think that I could have done much more in terms of carrying out my mission in life.
Who do you trust the most?
“The Time of Indifference” by Italian novelist Alberto Moravia.
Your motto in life?
Be honest in everything and always.
Two of Eldar Ryazanov’s fantastic films – “Office Romance” and “The Garage”.
Julia Roberts, Meryl Streep.
Your advice to women?
Listen to your heart and follow your inner voice when it comes to your personal life, and listen to your brain when it comes to making business decisions.
Interviewer – Naira Tovmasyan