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Naila Safarali

Self-development is the competitive advantage which sets real professionals apart from the rest

Naila Safarali, Talent Director

When I was offered the Talent Director position at Deloitte CIS several months ago, I did not think long. By that time I had worked for two years in the fi rm's Kiev office leading the HR department, I knew the fi rm well, and, most importantly, it had always been a lot of fun working at Deloitte.

I must admit that my path to directorship was not a short one. Before joining Deloitte, I had worked in personnel positions in various industries for about 10 years, including four years with the multinational BP as a personnel counselor on special projects. While working at BP, I received a human resources management degree from Nottingham Trent University. I had realised it was important to get specialist education, although I had felt quite confi dent working in the oil industry with my diploma from the Azerbaijan Technical University.

It is diffi cult to defi ne the elements of success, but I am absolutely confi dent that obtaining a proper education is the fi rst step on the challenging path up the career ladder. By carefully selecting the right school and specialisation, one can get the "lift" that helps them to gain the necessary advantage in the challenging race for a leading position in a good firm.

My personal experience also tells me that continuous self-development is the competitive advantage which sets real professionals apart from the rest. People should never stop trying to better themselves, and it’s important to keep informed about developments in both the industry and your profession. For instance, subscriptions to specialised journals are very helpful to me; they are an excellent way to keep "toned up" professionally.

Besides this, what makes a real leader is the ability to work as part of a team. I always emphasise that my success in Deloitte is due, to a great extent, to the fabulous teams with which I have had a chance to work. It may sound trivial, but you can't win on your own in business; a successful business is a community of like-minded people that share understandable and achievable goals with clear distribution of responsibility. To be able to work in a team, it is important to know how to build and maintain relationships. When selecting an employer, you should look at their team, and if the team is united you can’t go wrong.

In closing, I would like to cite Confucius, who is as relevant today as he has ever been: ‘Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life.’ You never achieve real success unless you like what you are doing.

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