Iryna Bondarieva: Women’s energy in business is a real catalyst for positive changes and achievements
Irina Bondareva, the founder and CEO of the travel company “Dolce Travel”, established in May 1999, embodies her vision of success in various aspects of life. Her extraordinary path of achievements spans not only tourism but also sports and science. Irina’s leading trend lies in providing an endless source of inspiration for other women, showcasing, through her example, the strength of perseverance, confidence, and courage.
In this interview, Irina will share her experiences and her vision of success in various spheres of her life, discussing the role of women in entrepreneurship.
How do you view the role of women in modern business, and what advantages do you see in women’s entrepreneurship?
The role of women in modern business is defined not only by their ability to solve seemingly arising problems but also by their skill in successfully motivating the team as leaders. Nowadays, women increasingly occupy leadership positions, and men can no longer ignore this trend. In my opinion, women tend to have a more delicate emotional organization, cultural literacy, and the ability to listen to innovative ideas and successfully apply them in the development of their businesses.
A woman in modern business also embodies long-term psychological resilience in conditions of high stress. Current events in Ukraine demonstrate women’s ability to quickly and effectively achieve set goals. This trend is characteristic of women in contemporary business worldwide.
What do you think are the key aspects of leadership for women in business today?
For me, the key aspects of leadership for women in modern business include self-confidence, self-organization, persuasive argumentation in strategic decision-making, clarity of goals, the ability to find an individual approach to each team member, and friendly communication. A successful leader should possess not only a high level of professional competence but also the ability to confidently manage a team, building relationships based on trust and effective collaboration. Contemporary leadership is defined not only by an understanding of business processes but also by the ability to inspire and develop talents within the team, creating a motivational environment for achieving common goals.
How do you overcome stereotypes or challenges that exist for women in the business environment?
I believe that professionalism is a key tool for overcoming stereotypes. In this case, it’s crucial to become an expert in your field. Everyone wants to work with a professional, regardless of the type of work. If you can competently answer questions, perform tasks, or provide services that bring satisfaction and even joy, you don’t need to prove anything to anyone. Just be a professional in your field. This not only allows for effective work but also breaks stereotypes by showing that success in entrepreneurship is determined not by gender differences but by personal skills and professionalism.
What strategies do you use to maintain a work-life balance, especially in the fast-paced environment of modern business?
To maintain a balance between work and personal life in the fast-paced world of modern business, I employ a strategy grounded in the English behavioral stereotype. When crossing the threshold of my home, I leave all work-related issues behind and embrace the warmth of my family nest. With my children and loved ones, I strive to bring positive emotions and dedication. I redirect moments of free time towards shared activities and learning something new together with my family.
This approach works for me as a way to separate work life from personal life, allowing me to fully enjoy quality moments in both spheres. It’s crucial to know how to switch gears and focus on a particular aspect of life at the right moment. Such an approach contributes to maintaining harmony, ensuring relaxation and tranquility in the personal realm while enhancing efficiency and emotional well-being at work.
Are there any particular challenges for women entrepreneurs in the global business community?
Yes, indeed, there are challenges for women entrepreneurs in the context of the global business community. Stereotypes and prejudices regarding the role of women in entrepreneurship remain relevant. Despite efforts to eliminate gender inequalities, there are companies where the wage gap between women and men persists, with women earning less for the same work.
Limited access to funding becomes another obstacle for women entrepreneurs in scaling their businesses. This complicates the acquisition of necessary resources for development and competition in the market.
Additionally, challenges related to continuous learning, new technologies, and frequent business trips can create difficulties in balancing personal and professional life, including family support and maintaining physical well-being.
These challenges faced by women entrepreneurs make their path in business more complex compared to men. Nevertheless, many women entrepreneurs continue to successfully develop their businesses, relying on their determination and ability to overcome difficulties.
How do you choose strategies for personal and professional development in the face of rapid business changes?
In the face of rapid business changes, I select strategies for personal and professional development, focusing on the importance of continuous improvement and adaptation to new conditions. Since rapid changes in business demand flexibility and quick responses, my approaches are based on the following principles:
Continuous learning: My life motto is always to learn. The ability to quickly acquire new knowledge and skills is a key element for successful adaptive development. I attend exhibitions, seminars, training sessions, and camps where I gain new knowledge and broaden my horizons.
Planning: Historically, I used to plan my actions well in advance for an extended period, but in the face of rapid changes, this approach requires adaptation. Now I plan for the coming months, taking into account unforeseen circumstances, such as the war in Ukraine.
Participation in events at different levels: I actively participate in exhibitions, seminars, and training sessions that take place at various levels. This allows me to exchange knowledge, establish new contacts, and explore opportunities for the development of my business.
These strategies not only keep me informed about the latest trends in my industry but also provide me with energy and additional potential for implementing new projects in the fast-changing business environment.
What projects or initiatives do you consider your contribution to the development of women’s entrepreneurship?
My main project is the travel company “Dolce Travel.” As the owner of the company, I believe that life is full of opportunities, and I demonstrate this by my example. I consider this direction of activity to be the most successful and well-chosen.
I am happy to share my knowledge and always ready to help those who seek advice. It is important for me that others receive support and feel that achieving their dreams is realistic.
Regarding initiatives in women’s entrepreneurship, I believe it is crucial not only to achieve one’s goals but also to support other women in their efforts. In my case, it is not only about business development but also about creating positive examples and mutual assistance within the community of entrepreneurial women.
As for my participation in charitable initiatives, for many years I have actively supported the Health and Harmony Children’s Foundation. This activity is not only a duty for me but also an opportunity to contribute to improving conditions for children. A few years ago, we installed and gifted the city a modern playground, serving as a place for joy and play for the children in our area.
What educational or mentoring initiatives do you support or attend to develop women in business?
Unfortunately, or fortunately, I do not choose initiatives or events based on gender principles. Whenever possible, I participate in educational programs aimed at personal growth and expanding my own business. Recent examples include participation in the Brand People Camp in Tenerife, where I actively worked in a focus group, gaining new knowledge and establishing beneficial collaborations and partnerships. Additionally, I attended the WTM and Continental Travel Show exhibitions in London, discovering new trends in the tourism industry and expanding my network of connections. Another initiative involved participating in specialized educational seminars. All of these experiences provided me with new insights and connections.
How do you define success in your business, and has your idea of success changed over time?
Business success, for me, means achieving set goals and the profitability of the company’s activities. It involves happy clients and satisfied employees. My perception of business success has evolved. In the early years of our company’s existence, success meant a strong position in the Ukrainian tourism market, building a team of professionals, and advertising campaigns to expand the tourist base.
However, over time, priorities shifted to expanding business with corporate clients, broadening the geography of routes, and offering new services. Now, we can pride ourselves on being one of the best companies in Ukraine, according to various tourism operators. Our success is not only reflected in financial indicators but also in the recognition of the quality and services we provide in the tourism industry.
How do you use your experience and positivity to inspire other women in business?
Reflecting on my experiences of victories and setbacks in achieving significant goals in sports, science, and tourism, I strive, whenever possible, to inspire other women through my example. I don’t hesitate to talk about the challenges I faced, the perseverance, and courage that are crucial for tackling tasks, and the necessary self-confidence without which all of the above would be impossible.
By supporting other women with my knowledge and experience, I help them develop confidence in their abilities. I try to be an example of a successful woman in business, aiming to inspire others to pursue their goals without hesitation, to fearlessly be bold, and to find joy in every step taken towards their dreams.