Anastasia Trubnikova

Head of Corporate Event Portfolio, we.CONECT Global Leaders

1. Who was your favourite teacher at school? What did you learn from that person?

My Russian language and literature teacher, Tatiana Ivanchikhina. She was (i guess, still is) demanding, very sarcastic, but also very supportive and passionate. She had a huge influence on me and most of my classmates. There were two camps – those who loved and those who hated her. Her remark on Tolkien made me drop Lord of the Rings, after conquering 1.5 books. (She compared Tolkien with then popular mass consumption detective writer Darya Dontsova, and, although I also read all that Dontsova published at that point, this comparison made me completely lose interest in finishing LotR). But she also helped me develop a lot of the traits I have today, which is why I am eternally grateful.

2. At what age did you become an adult? What happened, and how did you know?

It’s really hard to say! Funny enough, I remember having an existential crisis at the age of 6, between graduating kindergarten and starting school. I remember nostalgically walking around the kindergarten and reminiscing about good old times. Maybe that was it?! On a serious note, I realize I’m old when I am able to handle German bureaucracy, talk to GenZ, or it hit me when the other day I saw Victoria Beckham’s adult son on a billboard as a model for a clothing brand. So, old – yes. Adult – not yet.

3. What are the three books that you would unhesitatingly recommend to others? Why?

I’m sad it’s only three :(

Oscar and the Lady in Pink, by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt

It’s a very short book, but it causes emotional turmoil every time I read it. It makes me laugh, cry, and re-evaluate a lot of things every time.

Letters to Theo, by Vincent van Gogh.

Vincent is one of the most renowned and loved painters (now), but also one of the most tortured souls. He is so much more than his paintings, and his letters give a very good look into his life and thoughts.

De Profundis and other Letters of Oscar Wilde, by Oscar Wilde

Everyone loves quoting Oscar Wilde, he’s witty and pretty much always on point. De Profundis is a look into a very different Oscar Wilde, writing from the lowest point in his life, being a prisoner in Reading

4. Name a well-known person you admire and explain why you hold them high esteem?

Pink. extremely talented musician, very hard-working, strong independent woman with seemingly no-bullshit approach to life

5. If you wrote a ‘user manual’ for how people should interact with you, what would be the most important point in the manual?

Be brutally honest! Bullshit is very easy to sense, and it’s just not helpful.

6. What is your untrainable superpower?

Being excited like a child about too many things.

7. In current industry conversation, what is an example of ‘making a mountain out of a molehill’?

Developer salaries! Definitely too exaggerated! I can’t wait until the day some coder develops a code that develops a code for them. But I guess this will mean the end of Tech Rec?

Well – developer salaries are definitely too high in most organizations. Which causes immense problems for so many companies which just aren’t able to compete! I heard this too many times. But my programmer friend told me that there are now tools being created which write code by themselves (I think it’s called copilot, and does basic things, but maybe there are more like this). So what if, in a magic ideal world, these tools evolve to the extent that they write complex code, and we won’t need that many devs anymore, and go back to the world with less exaggerated compensation? But then we won’t have Tech Rec, and it will be a very sad world.

8. Have you always had the same political beliefs? If so, why do you think you
have held them so long? If not, what event caused you to change your view?

I think beliefs change when people grow up. I think for me, they changed/evolved a lot with the change of country of residence and studying European politics. They are still evolving. I guess moving from Russia to Germany and spending most of my “conscious life” here has brought a different set of values, both politically and personally. I think I became a lot more centrist as opposed to idealistic-left-wing student. the most changes happened in my views toward, for example, issues like migration (regulated and unregulated; from more feeling-driven to more educated), or the coexistence of business and politics. I think in Berlin we have also used to learn about issues from protests going on most days of the year :) but, as I still cannot vote, there are some things that do not reach the point where I start caring

9. What is the best purchase you’ve made recently? Why?

In the useless purchase category, I’m not able to choose between the hot pink lightning earrings and a retro popcorn bag – anything to brighten up Berlin’s famously grey and dull winter. In the useful category – a thing to put under my monitor (enough DIY!). My back feels so much better.

10. What is your most prized possession? What’s the story behind it?

A collage that says “Berlin is a bitch, but then you marry”. I bought it in Tacheles from one of the artists for about 5 euros. Tacheles was the first place I visited in Berlin back in 2009, and another victim of gentrification. Fascinating place, it was a department store where the first vacuum cleaner was sold in Berlin (or maybe Germany?). Abandoned after WWII, and squatted until the early 2010s – a place for artists, sculptors, all these guys who make Berlin what it is. The first time I visited it, it was full of clubs, bars, movies, an outdoor sculpture yard and so much more. And, of course, the home to the ‘How long is now’ mural. Gradually over the years when I visited it, fewer and fewer places remained open. I bought this collage and the next time I visited, the place was shut down completely. Now it is being rebuilt as a luxury apartment and office building. But when I look at it, I remember my favourite city as I first saw it.

11. What’s your favourite meal? Can you say why?

Potatoes! Mashed potatoes. Fried potatoes. Boiled, roasted, pancaked… you get the idea. :) also, greek yoghurt with fresh blueberries.

12. If you were to own a bar, and you could design it how you wanted, what
would it look like?

Ha. I’d probably go with the typical Berlin Kreuzberg aesthetic – dimmed light, half-painted walls, furniture from flea markets, graffiti in the bathroom and on the tables… Some jazz music and great cocktails will make it perfect.

13. Which fictional villain do you find yourself sympathising with most? Why?

When I was younger, I found myself sympathizing with John Kramer/ Jigsaw – he genuinely thought he could help people find better ways. Never agreed with the methods though :D Maybe let’s look for another one here hahahah

14. What decision makes you say, “What was I thinking??” when you look back on your career?

I moved from the event industry into programmatic advertising. Surely interesting for some people, but it was probably the least creative thing that I’ve ever done. At that point, it paid 2x what I earned at a previous gig, and it mattered. But boy was I happy to be cut when we lost a top client. After that experience I came back to what I love doing – creating conferences I would love to attend, talking to people, learning about different topics… still loving it.

15. Tell me about that one project that was a total off-the-rails disaster? What
Was your role in that shitshow?

One of the events I organized back in 2017 – my first conference focusing on an industry vertical (Pharma, of all things. With time, I learned to love it, but back then, it being my 3rd own conference ever, it was hitting me on the head with a hammer for 9 months). In a month running up to the event, I have had 18 speaker cancellations (out of 35), and every day was just worse. We managed to do some magic and had the full agenda – and quite a nice event, but the night before the event I had a 2 part nightmare: someone died at the event, and nobody showed up, all at the same time.

16. What’s the one bad quality you wouldn’t mind in a colleague? Why?

Laziness. In the right mix with a couple of other traits (for example, motivation and passion), laziness is a great efficiency booster.

17. What role do you find yourself playing when you join a newly formed team? Can you explain why this happens?

The expert. I’m usually the loudest person in the room who also likes to express what I think and feel. That’s why people automatically assume I know things. The best way out I found is to try and make my opinions educated, and actually know things – or shut up :)

18. What’s one industry challenge you don’t actually think will ever get solved?

Lately, I’ve been having many conversations (with both developers and recruiters) about diversity and inclusion in tech, and the more conversations I have, the more disillusioned I become. Sure, many companies seem to be doing great work in this space, making it a strategic priority, and it’s a great step forward. But my guess is, for most of the organizations this topic is not on the radar yet, or it ends with putting m/f/d into the job description. Unfortunately, I feel, it is going to take a few more generations until diversity and inclusion is something so normal that people don’t need to pay attention to it, and this disappoints me greatly.

19. If you could add a question for the next person to answer, what would it be?

What made you choose the profession you are in today? Did you choose it or was it pure coincidence? What made you stay?

20. Who would you recommend to do the next 20 Questions With … ?

Hung Lee! I wanna hear more from the person who started all this!

Thank you to Anastasia Trubnikova for taking 20 Questions for The Brainfood Tribune. Make sure to follow Anastasia on LinkedIn

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