Kristina Poluyanova, ACS Product Marketing Manager, EMEA at Autodesk, on Career Growth and Relocating Abroad
Kristina is originally from Russia and studied a BBA at EU’s Barcelona campus. Since graduating, she has developed a successful career with Autodesk, a leading multinational software corporation.
After living in Spain for over a decade, Kristina decided to switch things up with a move to London! We wanted to hear more about Kristina’s experience of relocating and making a horizontal career move from customer success to marketing.
Could you take us through your career path at Autodesk?
I joined Autodesk almost four years ago, in Barcelona. I started on the construction customer success team, where I would help hundreds of customers understand how to use cloud technology. We use innovative tools that can connect to augmented reality throughout the entire construction lifecycle.
Later, I became a specialist for a couple of years and was then promoted to customer success manager dealing with larger customers in the Middle East. I had fewer customers, but the accounts were bigger in terms of revenue and projects. I would go out to construction sites and upscale people on technology, learn about their projects and KPIs, and then explore how we could use the technology to minimize costs and reduce risks.
I then had the chance to move into a more senior customer success manager position for the UK and Ireland. I started in Barcelona, where I would work with large owners or contractors, helping them to roll out advanced technology on their construction projects. A little later, I relocated to London. Then, quite recently, I moved into a new position. I’m now the EMEA Product Marketing Manager, responsible for all our cloud construction product launches in the EMEA region.
I always thought that vertical progression was the ultimate way toward building your career, but at Autodesk, I’ve seen that a lot of leaders have made horizontal moves. I think it is the right thing to do because it helps you to have a more holistic picture of how your organization works. It’s like a 360º learning curve.
After 10 years of living in Spain, you moved to London. What made you change cities?
I relocated internally, which made moving to a new country easier. You feel like there is a certain level of support and stability. I had spent a lot of time in Spain but always wanted to live somewhere else and gain the experience of living in yet another foreign country. I also knew that to grow professionally, I had to move.
I had always liked London; I think it’s a vibrant city and whenever I came here, I felt like I could live in this city. The pandemic didn’t scare me, and I didn’t want to turn the opportunity down just because there was some insecurity around what was going on. So, I decided to take the offer and moved here in February.
How has remote work affected you during the pandemic?
It has affected me a lot. Before, I was traveling almost every two months to see customers and we also had a lot of company events. I also often went to the United States. So, that of course was affected.
The shift toward remote meetings was nice at first, but then it became very tricky because you have to change the way you lead and coordinate meetings to make them more engaging. It’s very hard to keep people engaged and maintain the same relationship, especially when meeting people for the first time online.
I am working from home pretty much all the time, and for me it’s hard because I really like going to the office; I am a sociable person when it comes to work. I miss the human aspect, but it allows you to have more flexibility with your personal time. It is easier to do things outside of work, but you need to teach yourself how to stay focused at home. That’s also quite hard.
I think a lot of things have changed the way you do business, but also, on the personal level, it has changed how you structure your day.
You won the Autodesk International Customer Success Manager Employee of the Year 2020, the Autodesk Construction Solutions FY20 Customer Success Culture Award, and you are a candidate for the Emerging Leaders FY21.
What advice would you give students who also hope to grow rapidly in their careers?
For me, it was about the sense of belonging. I had worked at other companies, but Autodesk is the first company where I feel I belong: I share the same cultural values, I really love working with the people here, and I really like what I do.
When you find yourself in the right place, these things will start happening. I never thought that I would receive awards. I would like to be a people leader and I really appreciate Autodesk for supporting me in that, for nominating me and putting me through the program. If you are interested in a company and demonstrate that you’re working hard, they will compensate you in different ways. You should focus on more than just the salary in order to grow as a professional.
I would give the same advice when looking for a job. I have made the mistake of taking a job because of the salary. If you’re not happy at the company or position, it’s not going to work, and you will not be able to grow. However, if you find yourself in the right environment with the right people and you can relate to the company values and culture, you have a natural tendency toward growth.
It is also very important to connect with people in your company—not only on your team, but really try to network globally. It’s all about knowing the right people and looking for mentorship opportunities.
Would you say that mentorship has been key in your career?
My first mentor, who now works for Google, gave me a lot of advice. I wanted to be like him in many ways, and he really helped me believe in myself, believe that I can get anywhere I want, and shouldn’t be afraid of applying for jobs.
You are an Autodesk Sustainability Leader and an Autodesk Young Professionals Network Professional Development Lead. Were you nominated for these roles, or did you apply? What do the roles involve?
These roles came from my personal interests. We have a voluntary sustainability program at Autodesk and I personally really care for the environment. I work with some NGOs and try to be mindful when it comes to what I do, how I do it, how I shop, and what I buy. I wanted to get involved with the program to understand it a little better. I received a sustainability leader badge, meaning I’m the go-to person in the company if somebody wants to know more about sustainability.
We have various resource groups at Autodesk, such as the Black Women’s Network, the Asian Network, Pride Network, and the Young Professionals Network. I was interested in the Young Professionals Network because I like the idea of mentorship. I mentor three people at Autodesk, and I have previously had three mentors myself. I really like the idea of sharing experiences, thoughts, and ideas, and helping someone find their way. There was a recruitment process for different positions in the program, so I applied for Lead. The role actually takes up quite a lot of time, but it is a nice way to help young professionals. We encourage them to attend events and set up mentoring circles.
What piece of advice would you give to a new graduate?
Get out there and try not to overthink things. If you get an opportunity, take it; you’re young and you have time. If you make a mistake, that’s fine, but don’t miss out on an opportunity. It’s important to continue trying new things.