International Women’s Day Feature
Ksenia Soldatova was born and raised in Russia in a family that is “strong, intelligent and always working, especially the women”. Ksenia and her siblings were raised by their mother Yulia Lvova.
“I was growing up in Russia during a time of really big political, social and economical changes. The at that time, the landscape of a society was changing drastically, as you could imagine. And you know, people’s lives would take really unpredictable turns,” says Ksenia Soldatova.
She says her mother had to work long hours, so she and her sister learned how to be independent, manage their own schedules and extracurriculars, and learn how to problem-solve.
The family moved many times, according to Ksenia.
“We loved it. What was really fascinating about it was it gave us a lot of opportunities to see people and new things. How life can be lived differently.”
Ksenia says that she always had access to strong education, something she is grateful for, especially knowing not every girl and woman has the same access she did.
“I am really fortunate to be surrounded by people that support me and motivate me to find things that are interesting to me, things that I’m passionate about, and that I’m strong at.”
At the age of 17, she started a program in child psychology and a full-time job in HR at a fast-growing IT company in Russia at the time. She worked and attained her bachelor’s and was able to attain an exciting career at a leading company in Russia.
“Then 2009 happened, the recession and my first layoff,” says Ksenia.
Taking a “leap of faith” she moved to Calgary, following her parents, sister and a younger brother who had moved to Canada in 2006. She says in following her family to Canada, she was living in her parent’s basement at first, which was hard for her after having so much independence while living in Moscow.
“There are certain challenges in the professional world that are associated with being a woman, and especially an immigrant woman,” says Ksenia. “I was starting my career from scratch, really, but when I came here, I had seven or eight years of experience really working in HR.”
She again comes back to how her access to education gave her a strong starting point and recognizes the impact had on her life, and immigration to Canada.
“My education was thankfully recognized (in Canada) and then I really had an opportunity to take on a program at the University of Calgary UM and really become a part of the professionals here.”
Ksenia says it takes courage to continue following her dreams, to continue to push boundaries and discover new things.
“Getting to a place where I can have a seat at the table again was a challenge. Getting to the table is one thing, but being heard and listened to is another one.”
She encourages women to build relationships with people that empower and support them because that impact will never go away.
Throughout our conversation, Ksenia spoke of her mother, Yulia, often, mentioning that they’d talked through the questions I sent over in preparation for our intev. I want to highlight this piece of information because I believe it speaks to the importance of support, connection and the bonds that women forge with one another.