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  • Celeste Wroblewski

Coaching + Connections For Russian Newcomers

For more than 40 years, REA coaches in 80 countries have helped some 100,000 individuals and families successfully navigate career and life transitions.

While those numbers have always included Russian assignees, recent world events have led corporate clients to reduce operations in Russia and move large populations of talent and their families to other locations around the world. Regardless of where they landed, REA recognized that the unique circumstances which precipitated their moves could create unique challenges, and that’s where REA was able to show its strengths.

Online Connections

Not only did REA assign each Russian participant to a coach to support them in their new location, but REA also established an online connectivity program for them, including online discussion groups via the platforms Telegram and Facebook, and offered a series of Zoom connectivity meetings.

The meetings, conducted in Russian by Russian-born REA coaches Anna Boltenko in Vancouver and Nadia Kogan in Toronto, focused on a variety of issues, with each meeting having a different theme. The topics included communication :

  • Business Communication

  • Networking

  • Interviewing

  • Adaptation to Language and Cultural Differences

  • Emotional Aspects of Relocation

  • Finding One’s Place in the Community

  • Ability to Make Long-Term Plans

  • Coping with Accepting a Lower-Level Job if Necessary

“Our clients seemed glad to connect with others who are experiencing the same things they are,” said Nadia.

“In the midst of a big transition, it’s always helpful to hear,” said Anna, “how another person with a similar background found a solution to the same problem you are facing.”

One-to-One Coaching

The issues discussed in the online forums echoed those that participants brought up individually with their respective locally-based coaches.

While everyone faced the challenges of acclimation in daily life, the Russian participants wanted to focus most on job-search strategies and the communication challenges related to it.

Those having some of the toughest challenges were the clients who landed in countries where English was not the primary language in the workplace. Coaches helped them locate relevant language classes and they themselves shared that the website was a good way to learn new languages, as it offered economical and customizable one-on-one lessons as well as connections to other language learners.

Different Styles

Many Russian job seekers were challenged with differences in workplace communication style and hiring practices.

REA Coach Elyse Pipitone, of the Boston area, said she advises clients that in the U.S., hiring managers and recruiters expect candidates to strongly demonstrate that they are interested in the position or opportunity.

This was also emphasized by REA Coach Paula Robb of New Jersey. She coaches Russian clients on the employer’s need to understand if the candidate “can do, will do, and will fit.” Her clients assumed that the “can do” was the most important part of the process, and thus benefitted from coaching on the importance of conveying motivation and eagerness to do the job and to be part of the team.

REA Coach Aniko Lenkei, from Hungary, said she also coached her Russian clients around cultural and communication differences as well as related challenges, especially in the context of interview situations and the clients’ integration into more open and inclusive multicultural European working environments and teams.

She said she helped clients to recognize the value of adopting a less rigid, more friendly, and open way of communicating. Like the other coaches, Aniko said she also coached her clients to be more succinct and strategic in answers to interview questions, especially the popular “Tell me more about yourself” question, while allowing their personality and kindness, even their smile to shine through.

Nadia said that many Russians have a tendency to provide a long, detailed history of their employment in answer to this question. Instead, interviewees should focus on a few key messages that answer the question, “What can this candidate do for me?” Another tip is for the interviewee to check in with the interviewer on whether his or her response answered any of the interviewer’s questions. This helps the interviewee get a better read on how he or she is doing.


Of course, it’s important to avoid stereotypes when coaching clients which is why REA coaches customize their coaching to the individual client. Not all Russians are the same, and many of them actually have much in common with all people seeking a new job. For example, REA Coaches tell you that they have had to coach many North American clients on being more succinct in answering the “Tell me about yourself” question!

Said Susan Swavely, VP of Global Services Delivery for REA, “Each of our clients, no matter where they’re from, is unique, and REA coaches excel at providing a personalized plan that builds on the client’s strengths and helps them efficiently and effectively adapt and find a job in their new community.”

Check out REA Flex Coaching services and REA's website to help you on your path to a successful transition in your life!

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