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From Kiev to Currie: the value in mentorship

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.” –  John F Kennedy

Currie is proud to have a long-standing partnership with the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’s Mentoring Program. The program brings people seeking asylum together with volunteer mentors from vocational, professional and business sectors, exposing them to professional networks that can lead to sustainable employment.

In addition to providing the Program with communications support, each year we employ two interns from the Program’s ranks.

We think it’s a win-win – not only is it a great opportunity to help others establish themselves in Australia, but these people are highly skilled so it’s a chance for Currie to learn from their experience and expertise.

For the past six weeks, Ivan Sorokhan has been part of the Currie team. Hailing originally from the Ukraine, Ivan has an economics degree from Kiev University of Trade and Economics and has worked in events and marketing in the Ukraine and Thailand.

We are lucky to have him working across a range of Currie clients and tasks – whether it be lending some brute strength when we moved offices, to designing newsletters or curating photo libraries, executing event management plans, or the addition of a little creative flair in campaign development.

To learn a little more about Ivan, fellow Currie staff member Laura Browning asked him some pertinent questions:

You often speak about your passion for creating and developing projects, is that where you have the most experience?

I’ve done a lot of projects in my past. My first one where I got the most experience was to create and develop an internal television system for a fitness centre. It was one of the top fitness places in Ukraine, in Kiev. In that project I truly understood what I wanted to do in the future.

I have a lot of experience in marketing and public relations, events management, project design and development. Mostly I have done events projects like team building and trade events.

I always try to learn and develop my skills. I worked for a big marketing and public relations company for six years and I learned much of my skill there, but we always worked with the same clients. After a while I realised that I was not learning anything anymore. I wanted to grow so I knew it was time to move on. I left Ukraine then for Asia and new experiences were everywhere!

You’ve visited and worked in a remarkable number of places in the world for someone who is still young. What variances have you noticed in how different cultures approach communications?

The amount of time that we work for is a big difference. In Ukraine we had a starting time in the morning but no finish time. I once worked for a politician and nobody was there to tell us to stop at 5.30pm so we often worked for 24 hours in a day! I think when you have good work or a project you like, then you can spend a lot of time developing it because you want to see results.

The second difference is communication inside the office. Here we have an open plan where managers and principals can talk with staff, even interns, every day. In other countries where I’ve worked everyone has an office and if you want to speak with managers or other departments then you must book appointments. I think the open plan works better for team work.

What do you think you’ve learned in marketing and comms overseas that might be useful in the Australian market?

One of the biggest things I ever learned was how to listen to clients. You always need to hear what they want, but you also need to do what is best for them and it is a balance. The first step is to listen and then you can analyse what they need.

I also got a lot of experience in communicating on social media overseas. That’s where we did a lot of building relationships with partners. In my travels, I have used lots of different social media platforms. One of the biggest things that I have learned at Currie is reading and using your social media!

You’re not just a communicator with words, you’ve also been a professional dancer! Do you miss dancing?

Yes, I started to dance when I was seven years old and I did it professionally for about six years. I did Classic Latin ballroom; lots of waltz, tango, quick step, cha cha! I like having music in my life. If Latin music starts up there is nothing I can do about it; my body just starts dancing!

I miss doing it professionally because I enjoy the competition. Every time I tried to be a bit better. When I worked hard I saw results, and I liked that.

If you could choose to work on any project or for any company in the world, what would it be?

I would like to create a new type of social project. I want to create help for people and children who need support from people who can help them. I don’t just mean housing or food, I mean finding out exactly what they need, like education, legal help etc.

The second thing is that I want to create a company which can search for peoples’ new ideas and help them bring them to life. What support do they need? Where do they need money from? There are some great ideas around but the people with them don’t have the support they need to get them off the ground.

Finally, when you move on from Currie, what sort of work would you like to move into?

I want to work in event organisation and project management. I’d love to work on a TV project. It would be great to stay in Melbourne but there are lots of opportunities in places like Sydney, so I’ll keep my eye on the job market!

About Laura Browning

With communications experience in emergency services, community services, gender-based violence research, and agriculture behind her, Laura brings to Currie an ability to adapt to and understand a variety of complex content. Laura grew up on a sheep/wheat farm in the Riverina, NSW and is currently completing postgraduate study in Sustainability and Climate Policy.

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