Updated: Aug 25, 2019
I met Olga when we worked in consulting in our previous lives! Olga is probably the bravest, hardest working and most humble person I have ever known.
We both left consulting around the same time, for very different reasons. But what we had in common at the time, was a realisation that we were working in a way that was unhealthy, unfulfilling, and was not where we were meant to be. We both knew that there was a different and better way for us.
I know Olga's decision to leave the comfort of full time employment was just as difficult as mine was - in fact I know it was a lot more difficult. But I have such great respect for her in choosing herself, her family, and her future over the safety of a salary.
I have observed her (mostly via her Facebook posts) this year, and I know that she is following a path that is going to see her not just survive, but thrive because she has chosen to be in a context that supports her passions, her capabilities and her truth.
I predict that Olga is a woman to watch because she is going to be the educator, business woman and author that she dreams of being.
What did you want to be when you were 5 years old?
To be honest, what I remember is just flashes of a very poor background and having a feeling that it's my responsibility to make a change.
What I vividly remember at around that age was one day when mom was putting me down off her back and I saw us being at a certain house. My mom was working there as a brick maker. My question on that situation was there should be a way to change a circumstance, if those people have money to pay my mom, that means I can have money too. I also learnt that in life one has to work very hard I saw that when used to do hard labour such as that.
I wished to be somebody working with people probably as a nurse.
What career are you in now?
I have a Masters degree in Environmental Science and for many years worked as a consultant in the mining industry.
But currently I am back at university as an undergraduate student studying for a degree in education. I want be an educator.
What motivated you to make this change in your life?
I learned that not every job is for everyone. Doing a job that no longer motivates you and actually makes you unhealthily stressed every day is like eating a slow poison.
I could have stayed in consulting and moved to a different company but I realised that putting all my eggs in one basket might just continue to keep me stressed and "end up destroying all the eggs". I realised that wanted to spread my wings and have multiple ways of working so I am now working towards being an author, an educator and a business woman.
What steps did you / are you taking to realise your dreams?
I quit my job very unprepared but it was the best decision I have ever made. The type of stress I experienced changed - I remember having a new form of stress as I didn't have a clue what was next and what pained me more was what was I going to tell my kids that I quit my job and I don't have a plan B. I was especially worried about how to tell my eldest one because I didn't want to scare him. He was in grade 12 and he recalls how terrible our background was before I got my job in consulting.
But I managed to overcame my fears, my disappointment and my shame by turning that into an opportunity to spread my wings and fly towards greater things. To realise my dream, I have had to start again. And now I am at university being an undergraduate student with my son!
What kind of challenges have you encountered along the way?
Right now I am unable to afford a nanny or domestic worker and I have to do everything myself. Looking after three children ages 2, 6 and 10, keeping the house clean, and being a student at the same time is a tough juggling act - especially when one child is sick.
Name any 3 attributes that you think are important in your line of work?
Right now the most important attributes for me are determination, patience and a big heart to accommodate good and bad. Also being able to forgive and forget wrongdoings that have been done to me. And a willingness to help other people's children that might be struggling with a vision for their lives.
Have you ever failed in your career and if yes what did you learn from that experience?
I once forgot a very important part of a project process which ended up affecting the project budget and the timeline very badly. The lesson that I learned was that everyone needs guidance and support and no one should ever assume that people with lots of experience know everything.
What is the most rewarding part of your line of work?
When I was in consulting, the reward was being paid well along with various other company benefits.
Right now, the reward is having ample time to do other work that I'm passionate about.
How would you advise someone who’s having a hard time achieving their goals?
Firstly check if you're in the right place - in other words does the context that you are in bring out the best in you and are you able to thrive there? If the answer is yes then work hard, be determined, be strong and never give up. But if you're not in the right place, swallow your pride, quit the job and follow your dreams because sometimes no matter how hard you try, if you are in the wrong place, you are never ever going to succeed.
What did you have to sacrifice in order for your career to grow?
Early in my career I had to give up a lot of my free time to study and improve myself. If ever there's someone who has been studying non-stop it’s me. I had to go for English courses for language improvements, followed by presentation skills trainings, project management courses etc and some of these were evening and weekend classes.
I also sacrificed time with my children. Staying away from my kids in order to have less distraction and to achieve excellency at work - this was a terrible choice.
Any specific career advice you would like to share?
Don't wait too long to quit any job that's emotionally hazardous. The world is full of opportunities and if you survived before you got that job, it's possible that you can again. Remember what's important is your happiness and good health.
How do you define success?
Determination, flowing and pushing over what you come across and continuing on your journey without giving up.
Describe the essence of who you want to be?
Educator and a successful business woman in good health - emotionally and physically.
What key lessons have you learned in 2017?
I'm stronger than I've ever imagined.
I learned the techniques of giving an interesting lecture.
There is no age limit for studying.
Sometimes you'll find yourself in a position that'll require you to swallow your pride.
No matter your income level or your position in a company, your life belongs to you. Just remember to live, take care of yourself and be happy.
Paint your painful past with your favourite colour, so that when you look back you can smile and thank it for playing its part in bringing you to where you are right now.
Respect everyone regardless of what they possess in life because everyone is unique and there's a lesson you can learn from them.
Being rich does not change your human physical form. All materials we acquire in life just get associated with us but you remain a person just like everybody else.
Choose to be happy at all circumstances.
"Paint your painful past with your favourite colour, so that when you look back you can smile and thank it for playing its part in bringing you to where you are right now".