First of all, it is worth noting that Alona Shevtsova is a recognized specialist in the Ukrainian fintech market and the owner of the LEO International Payment System. Besides, she is an incredibly determined and target-driven woman. She sets tasks with clear deadlines and always achieves them.
One of those goals was to organize a visit of Maye Musk to Kyiv. Alona learned about Maye Musk from her autobiographical book called “A Woman Makes a Plan”. Being a mother with several children Alona was amazed to learn about the situations associated with Maye’s terrible marriage. She was shocked to learn that Maye was left alone with three children.
After reading the book, Alona realized that they would definitely have something to talk about with Maye and decided to invite her to Kyiv.
Alona Shevtsova shares insights and tells about the reasons why Maye’s visit was questionable until the last moment. She also shared several insights that she received from the legendary woman and her own opinion of things she considers to be the most important in life in an exclusive interview with the famous Ukrainian Tabloid magazine at the end of 2021. Ukrainskaya Pravda.
Alona, you have told me that you were inspired to invite Maye Musk to Kyiv after reading her “A Woman Makes a Plan” book. What was the most amazing and unique moment in this book? Have you read it in English or a translated version?
I read it in Russian during a visit to Washington at the beginning of the year. This book inspired me and made me think about the values that the Lord has provided women with. I am talking primarily about the family and children.
I also started to think about all the problems that a woman faces in modern society while trying to win her place under the sun. Unfortunately, the path that Maye has taken is not something new for a woman in the modern world. In fact, it is more than typical even for Ukrainian women.
This is the path of domestic violence, divorce, and injustice from people surrounding you. All these events hardened the character of Maye, thus allowing her to become an example for the children she raised.
And her approach to living was the foundation for Elon Musk during the process of his maturation as a person. Since childhood, he has accepted the maternal principles of life. Everything in life should be achieved independently. You should never count on anyone. You need to appreciate loved ones and respect women.
Did your real encounter with Maye meet your expectations? What impressions did you have after her visit?
First of all, I would like to note that the probability of this visit is incredibly small as a result of a huge combination of factors. So, when Maye finally agreed to visit Kyiv, it was a victory and a relief for our team!
After all, we had to overcome an incredible number of factors to make it come true. First of all, it was a terrible situation with the coronavirus in the country. Right before Maye Musk’s visit to Kyiv, the US media published an article with detailed statistics on European countries about the increasing number of fake vaccination certificates.
Ukraine was in the lead of these statistics. After reading that article, Maye decided to shorten her Ukrainian visit. It was originally planned that she would stay in Ukraine longer.
We took unprecedented security measures. We even created a mobile laboratory where we could test all guests for coronavirus. In other words, we conducted a visit at the highest level, without violating any requirement of the COVID-19 red zone of Kyiv.
And I would like to say without exaggeration that her visit is a wonderwork. Everything went fine and her fears of getting infected with coronavirus in Ukraine were not justified. I would like to say that the last event left an imprint of kindness and love in her life and in our hearts. We became friends with her. We became friends on all social networks, and now we write to each other on Facebook.
I was also lucky enough to meet her team, including her best friend Julia, who is her personal stylist working with her for many years. During this meeting, there were many insights that become even clearer and deeper over time.
I remember everything Maye said and make an effort to integrate her advice into my life. And I am not waiting for next Monday. I want to act here and now, thus causing changes.
It would seem that having a billionaire son, Maye could relax and do nothing. However, she travels around the world and performs her obligations under numerous contracts. What motivates you to work hard instead of just chilling and relaxing?
Maye’s lifestyle is a reflection of her way of thinking. And her approach is truly global. During her speech, she said that her typical weekly schedule includes at least 5 flights. Furthermore, one of those flights is transatlantic.
She calls her current age active and productive. And she is 73! She is the most popular model in the world right now! Brands producing swimwear, clothing, shoes, and cosmetics are fighting for Maye Mask to become the face of their brand.
I want to repeat that her trust in me and her agreement to visit Kyiv are incredibly valuable. And I value our friendship very much. Let me tell you one secret. Maye and I have agreed that she will fly back and visit Ukraine at the beginning of next year.
How do you feel being the head of a business empire? What is the most important aspect of it? Financial security, influence, or self-realization?
The coolest thing is to be in demand and important. At the same time, I realize that being a business person or a true professional is a secondary role for a woman. First of all, every woman is a mother, a lover, someone’s daughter, sister, and friend. Her professional skills and abilities are in the background.
Maye has quite feminist views. She does not like to talk about men in general. At the same time, it is not surprising, given the dramatic history of her marriage. Is it difficult for you as a woman to run a business? Is it really the “world of men”? Have you ever had to defend your rights or prove equality to men?
It is no secret that a woman always faces problems in society imposed by the remnants of past years. I am delighted to know that since the beginning of the twentieth century, the situation has begun to change rapidly. Women have gained the right to vote, hijabs have been removed in some Muslim countries, and local women have gained access to higher education. These days, we are used to seeing women competing for top management positions in large multinational corporations.
This is especially noticeable in large, civilized countries. Right now, people in the USA are fighting for a 5% gender quota on the supervisory boards of all large companies, or so-called “blue chips”. Many countries all around the world, including Ukraine, are trying to follow this positive trend.
Maye was able to afford to get an education only when her children grew up. What kind of education do you have and are you open to new knowledge? You also wrote many things on fintech education in the USA. Can you tell us about it in detail?
The issue of education in society is becoming the most urgent. The requirements of society are being tightened every single day. For example, professionals must speak at least two foreign languages these days. And a person who does not know other languages at all is virtually useless.
I prefer to study in a non-stop mode and strive for the best knowledge. I received my first education at the Kyiv Institute of International Relations of the Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University. At that time, I received a degree in international business and foreign economic activity.
At the same time, I also received a translator’s diploma. I fluently speak English and German. I received my second degree in law at the Academy of Postgraduate Education of the Kyiv National Taras Shevchenko University.
Then I wanted to study psychology. I simply needed it. Like many other people, I wanted to understand myself. I wanted to understand my role and my purpose while getting familiar with the behavior of people around me. And my fourth higher education is related to banks and financial activities. And at the end of November, I am going to participate in a course of lectures at the Aspen Institute.
You are from a military family. How did it affect you, your character, and the upbringing of your children?
I am incredibly grateful to my mother and my now deceased father. My parents were a typical Soviet couple of the 80s. My mother is an honored teacher of the Soviet Union. She is a physicist and mathematician. And my father Degrik Vladimir Ivanovich was a colonel. He was a commander of the flight unit of the aviation division of the Operational Command South in Odesa.
He has to work abroad because of his profession. My elder sister was born in Prague when he had to work in Czechoslovakia. After that, my parents lived in the Baltic States. I was born in Odesa.
Our family was based on strict discipline. It affected everything including gifts and presents to girls and ladies. I can admit that I have never smoked. It turned out to be like that only thanks to my parents. I am incredibly grateful to my parents for not having this terrible habit.
In one of the interviews, you recalled that you teach children to respect their family. How important is the topic of your roots for you? What values do you want to pass on to your children?
Your family, your generation, and your ancestors. These questions concern every person, especially when we approach the age of 40. My grandfather Ismagilov Foat Abdulovich was the deputy commander of the Central Group of the USSR troops.
All my relatives from my mother’s side are Tatars. I spent my entire childhood in the city of Ufa in Bashkortostan. I have to confess that those were the happiest years of my life. I was able to spend a lot of time with my beloved grandfather, who put his soul, love, and knowledge into me.
Do you and Maye have the same views on parenting? Being a businessperson, you pay a lot of attention to children. You also mentioned that you always answer their calls. This is exactly what psychologists recommend doing. Do you do this intuitively? Do you listen to the recommendations of professionals?
I have to say that my children shape me as a mother. We have a large family, and children are the key to life. They are the source that gives strength, motivates, and moves our whole family forward. Therefore, for me, every call from my son, all his excellent marks, and his victories at tennis tournaments are a source of excitement and happiness.
No doubt that we want children to be better than us. We invest our efforts to educate them and instill the desire to read books, travel, and discover new countries, and regions. I also want to foster a sense of tolerance for the world and the people around them.
One of your dreams has already come true. Maye Musk visited Kyiv at your invitation. In addition, this year you managed to take the third president of the country, Viktor Yushchenko, as a business mentor. What else do you dream about?
This year, the most important dreams are the following: I want my family to be healthy, I want our country to cope with COVID-19, I want people to have enough oxygen in hospitals, and I want mothers, especially young ones, not to leave their children in maternity hospitals. I want Ukraine to flourish as before.
All photos are provided from the personal archive of Alona Shevtsova