Irina Pavlova Q&A: Sports, Spirit and SPAM (2 of 3)
June 28, 2010
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J.—Irina Pavlova recently sat down with njnets.com to discuss her position, her background and what it’s like working with new owner Mikhail Prokhorov. Part II of our transcript follows.
Getting to Google
NJNets.com: Why’d you go to Russia for university and then come to the US for your MBA?
Pavlova: Pure opportunity. My first job out of college – and I was a Spanish major, so I come from a completely different world – was with Prudential, in Newark, so it’s funny that I’m circling back, almost to my roots. I was part of their analyst training program, and after doing that for three years, I realized the gaps in my education that I’d need to fill. Business school was the most logical step and that’s how I ended up at Stanford.
NJNets.com: Where’d you go from there?
Pavlova: I was in finance for most of my professional career. I worked a little bit at Merrill Lynch, and then for a family-owned company in San Francisco, doing equity analysis and money management.
NJNets.com: And that preceded you becoming the first employee of Google in Russia.
NJNets.com: How did that opportunity come about?
Pavlova: Again – pure chance and luck, being in the right place at the right time. I was moving from San Francisco to Russia without a job; I decided that once I was there, I’d look on the ground. I got introduced to a gentleman at Google that was setting up an emerging markets practice, out of London. We met for coffee. At first, they didn’t think they were going to go into Russia. Then they decided to do it, and I just happened to be there at the right place at the right time, and that was it.
NJNets.com: What was it like working for Americans in Russia?
Pavlova: Funny you should ask. It was tough. The communication challenges that I know arise from foreign companies dealing with Russians? That’s where I bring my experience from. Americans just do business in a different way, and I think it’s important for the two sides to trust each other. Working at Google sometimes was challenging, because the Americans don’t always trust Russians to do the right thing.
NJNets.com: What did you do to engender that trust?
Pavlova: I think just by being here, being open and letting our partners see that we’re not the Boogeyman, we’re not the Mafia; we’re normal people, doing business just like anyone else here. I think that removes a lot of the stereotypes, and just dealing with people face-to-face really makes them trust you more and makes you trust them. It works both ways.
NJNets.com: Having worked for such a major digital player, how do you view the role of digital properties in sports and sports marketing?
Pavlova: I think it’s huge. I think it’s huge and growing. I’m a friend of Nets Basketball on Facebook, and I’m very happy to see how that’s going and how much support we’re getting from all our fans. And I think it’s going to continue to evolve, both as a means of communication, getting our message out there, and also to get feedback from the fans, in terms of how they feel about what we’re doing.