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photo of Anastasia KuzminaAnastasia Kuzmina

2002 MPA alumna has Europe covered

Russian native Anastasia Kuzmina, who studied at the University of Delaware on an Edmund Muskie Graduate Fellowship and received her MPA in May 2002, has gone far indeed.

Kuzmina is currently based in Barcelona, Spain, and works as the HR manager for two profit-and-loss units of the General Electric Company (GE) Consumer & Industrial Business in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. This $14 billion business consists of lighting and power protection, as well as appliances sub-businesses.

In her role as HR manager, Kuzmina provides support to two general managers of lighting and power protection businesses and their product-management and pricing employees in 14 countries. Her responsibilities are very diverse—from organizational design and staffing to employee development and performance appraisals, as well as compensation and benefits, salary planning, and dealing with various employee issues.

Kuzmina speaks about her experience at GE. “At the mid-career level, it’s all about performance—being able to deliver in your role and showing aspiration to grow and deliver, which will allow you to be promoted to a higher position of responsibility. I had a diverse experience prior to working for GE, so it better positioned me to be considered for this role.”

Kuzmina’s is an important and challenging position within this corporate giant. Some of the unique challenges in her position are due to the organization’s matrix structure and the spread of employees throughout 14 countries.

“I spend a lot of time on the phone, not only interviewing but also providing coaching and resolving employee issues,” Kuzmina says. “Unfortunately, I haven’t actually met some of my client group employees, and it’s always a challenge to help someone grow within the organization when you don’t interact with them on a daily basis. Another challenge is diversity. I need to work to increase the number of women in product management, as it’s uncommon for women to study electrical engineering in Europe.”

Kuzmina is stimulated working with and helping people within the company. “I love my role; the ability to hire new professionals and help them grow and develop in GE and realize their career aspirations is the most rewarding experience. To see the person whom you hired get promoted gives me great satisfaction.” She adds, “I also try to connect with most of the employees one-on-one; it makes a big difference to them and motivates them to do their job better, which in the end is a win-win, for the company and the employee.”

After she graduated from University of Delaware, Kuzmina returned to Russia, where she worked for two years for the International Republican Institute (IRI), an American nonprofit organization. At IRI she was a program officer in charge of youth program, political party–building, and other training programs. It was there that Kuzmina started to develop a passion for human-resources management.

In 2005 Kuzmina was selected for GE’s Human Resources Leadership Program (HRLP), a two-year accelerated management-development program. She was the first HRLP candidate from Russia in the 20-year program’s history at GE. The program consisted of three eight-month assignments, which provided her an opportunity to work for a GE Security unit in Brussels, Belgium. There she was an HR specialist responsible for the Organization & Development and Compensation & Benefits units. This was followed by an eight-month assignment in Finance as a Financial Planning Analyst. Kuzmina then moved to Bergen op Zoom, Netherlands, to work for a GE Plastics unit, where she supported six functional groups (Finance, Sourcing, IT, Legal, EHS, and Technology). After completing the HRLP program, she was offered a position as HR Manager for the Customer Response Center & Pricing in Budapest, Hungary, where she lived for the past two years, before moving to Barcelona to take on her new post.

What does the future hold for this bright, young star? Kuzmina sees a continuing career path at GE. “I’m planning to stay in my current role for another couple of years and will then be looking for a role of expanded responsibility supporting a bigger client group, either with GE’s Healthcare or Oil & Gas unit.”

Much of Kuzmina’s early success she credits to her experience as an international student at the University of Delaware, and specifically as an IPA research assistant. While at IPA, she worked with the Women’s Leadership Development Program and Conflict Resolution Program.

“The two-year [MPA] program at the University of Delaware was a great learning and maturing experience for me. There were courses that were relevant to my current role—Management Decision Making, an HR class, as well as Finance and Economics,” Kuzmina says.

“Working in IPA was a great learning experience as well. It gave me an opportunity to work and participate in activities in the Women’s Leadership Development Program, during which I learned about leadership concepts and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. Having worked with the Conflict Resolution Program doing mediation, facilitation, and networking helps me tremendously in my everyday work.

“I enjoyed working with a very international team, and I made lots of friends with whom I continue to stay in touch. I also truly believe that the master’s program at UD was my first big step to an international career. It was my first experience living in the United States, and I’m still enjoying my international working/living lifestyle that started at UD.”

Moreover, Kuzmina says, “I also developed friendships for life. Even seven years after graduation, I continue to stay in touch with Myrna Bair and Kathy Wian, who have become close personal friends.”

Kuzmina continues to have a very active schedule and lifestyle. Sports allow her to stay more focused on work and achieve more. In the summer she enjoys playing golf and tennis, and in the winter she skis. She’s also trying to improve on her Spanish by taking regular classes.

Kuzmina continues to be passionate about traveling; she insists that “discovering different countries and learning about new cultures is an amazing experience. I recently counted the number of countries I’ve visited, and the count is now at 30—a lot more to go!”

photo courtesy of Anastasia Kuzmina
 

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