myGwork: Tell us about your career journey and why you started Wonder Industries?
Vlady: I studied and started my career as a fashion designer and hoped to have my own brand someday. However, being a problem solver by nature, once I reached certain positions, I found that my beloved industry is filled with gaps and issues that no one seems to be solving and accepting them as the natural order of things. During my career I have been happy to meet so many wonderful people creating materials and products of incredible quality and intricacy, but I knew I was lucky to be there because it turns out fashion wasn’t as inclusive and easy to create as it should be. Walking for hours around fairs, I always wondered how many people were unable to get here, how many things and inspirations are missed simply because most of these businesses and products aren’t easily accessible online. Almost everyone knows Alibaba and a massive market of Asian suppliers, right? But what about European suppliers? Does anyone know where to find them all in one place, browse their products and offerings, and reach them without intermediaries?
This is how I came up with the idea for Wonder Industries and was then lucky to meet incredibly talented people with whom we created a working product. Wonder Industries transforms the UK and European markets into one online fashion factory, providing fashion companies with a vast supply of materials and services needed for sustainable clothing, footwear, and accessories production. It is an ecosystem that connects all players in the market and allows them to work collaboratively, reinvigorate the industry’s on-shore capacity, and make SMEs more competitive against bigger companies.
myGwork: Have you always wanted to be a boss and why?
Vlady: Hard to remember, but I don’t think I really ever dreamed of being a boss. I just always wanted to get things done and gloriously. Because of that, I was always eager to find a proper way; I knew who should do what and what the final result should be. Initially, it was pretty intuitive even though I didn't have a relatable education in management. Nevertheless, by the age of 25, it led me to a position where I managed a small clothing factory with a team of 25-30 people and was able to transform the business from local to international. Now, after years of experience and education, I can say yes, I love leadership and the ability to transform businesses, teams, work environments, and inspire new leaders.
myGwork: How would you describe your leadership style?
Vlady: I believe I have more of the coaching-style leadership style based on logic, empathy, and trust – in this exact order. I prefer a logical structure in everything, including how I communicate the vision, goals, causes and effects. But obviously, no one can rely exclusively on logic, so you must be able to read the room to build trusting relationships with your team. I am trying to make as many conversations as possible to build a connection, listen to, and understand the person in front of me so that eventually, we can understand each other in a blink. Ultimately, everything must work as a system without additional inputs, where everyone has their own freedom to perform the tasks as it fits them and where the initial goals and vision matches with the result.
myGwork: What attributes do you look for when promoting/hiring employees leaders in your company?
Vlady: To begin, it is the way the person thinks because it is truly fascinating how differently people connect the dots in their heads. Secondly, it is learning agility because it is essential in such a fast-changing world. Lastly, it is a desire to take one even smallest step further and outdo yourself each time. It is simply a habit that helps you to constantly grow as a professional that pays off immensely. However, the important thing that brings all three above together is to have fun with what you do and to be in love with it. Because ultimately, it is better to promote those you would like to follow yourself.
myGwork: How do you successfully motivate your employees?
Vlady: In most situations, people don’t need any additional motivation. They simply need the right environment without hardships and obstacles. It's a bit similar to nurturing a plant. You take a seed, put it in the right soil, and provide the right conditions. You can’t seriously try to motivate someone if you have a 'Game of Thrones' culture in your office. The easiest way is to listen to your employees and make sure they are heard because it promotes trust, and trust means safety. You can achieve anything if you feel safe, trusted, with no obstacles in your way.
myGwork: How important is LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace to you?
Vlady: Inclusivity is simply essential. At Wonder Industries, we work to make the fashion industry inclusive in terms of business, and we just can’t have workplace policies other than absolute inclusivity. Being biased towards any group of people based on gender, sexual orientation, ethnicity, or religious beliefs is something from the dark ages, not to mention its devastating consequences for business and relations inside the collective.
myGwork: Why do you think there are so few out leaders in the workplace, and what more can organisations do to ensure more leaders who identify with LGBTQ+ are promoted into leadership roles?
Vlady: It is like this because the world is changing faster than people's mindsets. And people, unfortunately, aren't the creatures that evolve willingly. Every change comes with inevitable pain, similar to muscle gain. I tend to think it is because people came from those unfortunate primates that had to leave the trees and find their way through hurdles and struggles. And once we find a place of some sort of comfort, we won't leave it without drama. I don't think people should be promoted only because they belong to an LGBTQ+ community because it inevitably leads to inequality toward other professionals. LGBTQ+ people just shouldn't have any obstacles on the way to leadership. Everyone should have equal opportunities.
myGwork: In your opinion, how important are LGBTQ+ allies at work?
Vlady: The answer is in the word "ally". Allies are important in every sphere of life. And of course, it is crucial to have ones in your work life the same as in personal maintaining the balance. I believe being an LGBTQ+ ally should be considered normal human behaviour and shouldn't have a specific term to describe it.
myGwork: How are you personally promoting inclusion in the workplace? What more can organizations do to promote LGBTQ+ inclusion in the workplace and community?
Vlady: I'm trying to lead by example. I think it is the most effective way. Organizations should follow one simple rule: LGBTQ+ rights are human rights and protect human rights at all costs. It’s as simple as that. There are so many benefits to being inclusive, including economic, so there is no reason not to encourage it, at least for the sake of business.
myGwork: What was the last book you read (fiction/non-fiction)? Any interesting take-aways and would you recommend it to fellow leaders?
Vlady: It became extremely hard to read after Russia invaded my home country. So, I don’t think I have read anything except for news during the past 3-4 months. But the last book I was able to read was The Art of Thinking Clearly, by Rolf Dobelli. I wouldn’t say it is a must for everyone because it wasn’t as insightful as I expected, but it is easy to read, and if you are generally interested in applied and cognitive psychology, it is a good choice. However, I honestly don’t recommend it to someone with strong beliefs about something.
myGwork: What's your all-time favorite movie – and how many times have you watched it?
Vlady: The Matrix and Interstellar. I think I've watched both more than 15 times. Interstellar is because of my particular hobby-interest in astronomy and astrophysics. However, both movies give me the feeling of a greater purpose and that there is always a place for love in its most powerful meaning. Knowing how minuscule we are compared to the universe, it is important sometimes to recharge the feeling of a purpose.
myGwork: What's your most favorite holiday destination to date?
Vlady: I don’t really like picking favourites because each time you visit the same place, you start to notice more things you don’t like, so the first wonderful impression eventually fades away. And it is not because there’s something is wrong with the place; unfortunately, this is just how our brain works. So, I’m trying to keep my memories exciting, discovering new destinations while we still haven’t ruined our planet completely.
myGwork: What do you do to unwind?
Vlady: It’s most certainly video games. I discovered a long time ago that playing video games is the only occasion when my brain truly shuts down the thinking process and rests doing its bare minimum with taps and clicks. As a result, I always feel refreshed after long hours of playing some strategy.