Vlada became a QX member in 2017 during her third semester as a student at the WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management. Coming to Germany as a refugee, Vlada has gone her individual way which couldn’t have been possible without the support of other people. Alongside her studies, she and a team of 10 other students organized the IdeaLab! which is Europe’s leading student-run startup conference. Furthermore, she is currently working on her own venture with two friends.
QX: Vlada, you are one of our ICU Scholars from 2017. How did you experience the ICU Final?
Vlada: The ICU final was a special experience shaped by extremely interesting personalities that I was able to meet. As I have heard about ICU from a previous scholar from my university, I expected like-minded people coming from the same field of studies which turned out to be very different. ICU did a very good job of inviting people from the field of business, physics, biology and arts which made the conversations and presentations very diverse and interesting.
QX: You came as a refugee to Germany when you were little, tell us more about your journey and experience.
Vlada: I was born in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, in a family of doctors and engineers. My mother was a leading psychiatrist at one of the clinics in Tashkent while my dad worked as an energy engineer. During these times, there were a lot of military invasions in Uzbekistan which lead to the decision to leave the country with the intention of my parents to give my sister and I a better education and future.
Based on the Jewish roots of my father’s family side, we were able to move to Germany. After the arrival, I remember being in a refugee home in Neumünster before the government was able to provide us another refugee home in a different city. These times were shaped by not understanding anyone around me but to still acclimatize to a new culture, learning a new language and trying to build up a good base for the future. My mother’s diploma as a psychiatrist didn’t get accepted. Consequently, she started educating herself around that field so that she could do any kind of other job to support my sister and I. Most of the times, I haven’t seen her at home because she had to work at four different jobs so that she could pay the rent by herself as my parents got divorced right after we have moved to Germany. Luckily, I was 5 years old when we came to Germany which gave me the benefit of entering and connecting to a new culture very fast. However, I remember my sister having very hard times being bullied in school because of her background.
QX: You graduated from high school in year 2014. What have you done before you started studying at the WHU and why have you chosen WHU University at first place?
Vlada: As I have never been a person who liked to go to school, I was very happy to graduate in year 2014 to finally have the freedom to do the things that I loved and wanted to learn out of my own intention. It was always a dream of mine to learn how to surf. Therefore, I started to work in a bar for about a half year to save up some money to fulfill my dream. Going to Portugal has shaped me in many ways by meeting new people with different stories who were connected by their passion for surfing.
Even though I was hooked to the attractive lifestyle of surfing all the time, I knew that I also had to work at some point of my life. During that time, I realized how important it was to choose the right work so that I would have the opportunity to do what I loved. Therefore, I started looking for some universities and accidently discovered the WHU which convinced me right away because of their unique education approach and network. Not being able to pay the high university fees, I am very thankful of the financial support that the WHU is giving me in form of a “Freiplatz”.
QX: Vlada, you were always interested in “startups and founding in general”. Why have you joined the student initiative “IdeaLab!” and can you tell us more about your responsibility and learnings there?
Vlada: The IdeaLab! Initiative was actually one of the reasons why I have decided to study at the WHU. I was fascinated by the drive of students who would run such a conference next to their studies without earning any money for all their work. Moreover, I have always been interested in the personality of people and especially entrepreneurs who shape the world with their ideas. Therefore, I was curious to meet such personalities to discover how these people think, behave, and what their main drivers were to create such powerful companies.
Joining the IdeaLab! initiative was one of the best decisions I have made because I have met some of my closest friends. In a team of 11 students, we have organized an event for 500 participants while I was responsible for the speakers line up. Inviting and getting to know personalities, who have founded extremely successful companies in different industries all over the world, has definitely shaped the way how I think by learning from their stories. I really appreciate having met such inspiring individuals who still support me.
QX: We have met you some weeks ago and you and your business partners told us some exciting news – you just founded “amical” which is a platform democratizing recruiting, what’s behind it?
Vlada: “amical” is one of my dreams finally turning into reality. During my past work experience in form of internships and some freelance work that I did in Australia, I realized that I am not a person who likes to do work that is being repeated over and over again. Instead, I have always felt the desire to create things myself to transform my perception of this world and the principles that I believe in in such a way. As Konrad, Julian (friends and business partners) and I believe in the power of personal connections and networks and the importance of supporting and helping the people around us by connecting them with job opportunities, we have founded amical. amical is a platform which lists jobs of our partner companies with a bonus that any individual can earn by recommending friends who might fit for these positions. In case of a hire, the bonus is being paid out which can be shared and donated for good causes.
QX: We have seen that you have recently attended the Teen Vogue Summit in Los Angeles. How come you did that and would you say that you have benefited from it?
Vlada: As I am a curious person who likes to get to know new industries and the people that drive those, I have discovered the Teen Vogue Summit which is an incredibly inspiring platform with the intention to make voices being heard of individuals who change the now and future. Furthermore, I was interested in getting to know which effect these personalities would have on me. Having experienced Serena Williams, Eva Longoria, Cara Delevigne, Sally Matthews, and many more in person has shown me how important it is to speak up and believe in yourself. Therefore, I believe that I have finally gathered all the courage to tell my personal story to empower all refugees out there to write their own. To achieve that, we all need to start supporting our community without always wanting to get something in return right away!
QX: As always, what’s your Vanity?
Vlada: With everything that I have experienced so far, there is no such thing that is impossible in my mind. It’s just the mind itself creating these borders sometimes. I like to walk through walls.