Ani Margaryan (MBA ‘19): “Before AUA, I was dreaming; after AUA, I started to plan”7 min read
Ani Margaryan (MBA ‘19) is the chief executive officer of Magnus, an HR and recruitment agency, and the lead of HR at Joomag, a digital publishing platform. She has around ten years of professional experience in the field of human resources and recruitment. An enthusiast in her field, Ani also is engaged in recruitment training and teaches human resource management at Yerevan State University.
“When I was close to graduating from the Psychology Department of Yerevan State University (YSU), I realized that my passion lies not only in helping individuals, but also in helping companies to have a good grasp of management practices.” Ani understood that there was a knowledge gap in her background for working in the field of human resources, which was a budding new field in Armenia at the time. That’s what prompted her to apply to AUA’s Master of Business Administration (MBA) program. “When I was applying for admission to AUA, people were asking me, ‘Why AUA’? But, I didn’t have the answer then. I just trusted AUA as an educational institution. I knew I needed something more, but I didn’t know what that was. Only after graduating from AUA, I found the complete answer to the question of why I chose to study there. AUA has totally changed my career path,” she explains.
Ani joined AUA in 2015 and, as she notes, “spent almost three amazing years studying in the MBA program.” The American style education was completely new to her, and she recalls, it wasn’t all that easy for her to adapt to the system. “Before AUA, we were not used to studying every day. We were used to studying only when the exams were approaching so as not to fail. Studying at AUA was also challenging in terms of learning a new profession. There were a bunch of new concepts to learn. It was really very difficult to study for long hours, engage in discussions and group projects, often without getting enough sleep.” Soon after a challenging start, however, Ani got used to the system, “I even got a discount from AUA because I studied well and my performance results were quite high,” she remarks.
Ani stays connected with her AUA classmates, “I have so many good memories from the University and from the years spent with my classmates. We have all stayed good friends. We stay in touch and always help one another no matter what. I’m not a very social person myself, but we got along extremely well with each other at AUA.”
Among Ani’s many gratifying memories of AUA, the Main Building stands out as a symbol in different periods of her life. “I remember standing on Baghramyan street and looking up at the University long before I applied. At that time, I was dreaming about being able to study there one day, which seemed such an unreachable aspiration. Later, already as a student, every time I was overwhelmed with studying, I complained to my friends that ‘this’ building is torturing me, sucking up all my energy,” she recalls with a happy laughter. “And now, as an AUA graduate, every time I walk down Baghramyan street, I have this warm feeling about the AUA Main Building. There is some kind of magic in it,” she smiles.
Working Hard to Make Her Dreams Come True
“I keep saying, before AUA, I was dreaming; after AUA I started to plan. Before coming to AUA, I was dreaming that, one day, I would start my own company. After my AUA experience, I really got the sense that it is possible and that I can do that. This is perhaps the most rewarding gift AUA gave me,” Ani remarks.
Many people at AUA have inspired Ani, especially her professors, “I learned work ethics from Dr. Knar Khachatryan, Dr. Alexander Grigorian taught us not to look for easy answers, Dr. Hrach Hovhannisyan taught us that patience is an important element of being professional. Each one of our professors taught us skills that were crucial in our profession. They were all successful people, whether in their work at the University or outside, successfully combining their careers with their personal lives. We looked up to them and wanted to be like them,” she recalls.
Reflecting on her career path, Ani says, “Perhaps, the biggest challenge is starting out. We plan a lot and we are full of ideas, but taking the first step on your action path is really challenging. The second challenge is to stay on track and keep going. When just starting, one’s full of energy, motivation, and resources. But slowly the motivation starts to dwindle and it becomes harder to keep going at the same pace.”
Ani started working in HR back in 2011, “After I graduated from YSU, I left my job in the public sector, which was considered to be a good job. The change was risky, because the HR occupation was new in Armenia at the time,” she remarks. It was very challenging for her to start anew, but she kept going. “With every new functional area in HR I had new ideas that I wished to implement and that’s what made me keep at it and overcome all the challenges I was facing.”
Now, as she looks back, Ani notes, “I wish I had known from the very beginning that hard work really pays off. Whenever you are facing a challenge, you feel trapped in a loop and can’t see the end result. Still, no matter if you see it or do not, you’ll get there. Every day, step by step, you’ll get to the finish line.”
Having worked in the sphere of human resources for around ten years, Ani has had many accomplishments in her professional career. “I think my first achievement has been starting out my own company Magnus. My goal was to create a company that would help other companies in Armenia to succeed. My second achievement is being able to train a great number of professionals. That has been very motivating. I love seeing others grow,” she proudly states.
Ani’s background in both psychology and business have greatly influenced her as a professional. “Psychology helps me when dealing with people. But my profession is not only about people. It’s also about business. So when combining psychology with business, I have my unique way of thinking that whatever I am doing, it is to help people be more productive and motivated, and also, it is to help their businesses grow,” she remarks.
When asked what she likes the most about her current occupation, she says, “It keeps changing. Currently it’s about the values that I am adding into what I do. Each time a CEO compliments me on a good outcome, I have this aha moment! And that is not only about me; it’s also about my teams, the individuals with whom I work at Magnus and at Joomag. Nothing would be possible without those valuable people next to me.”
Serving in leadership positions both in Magnus and Joomag, Ani believes that it is important for a leader to empower others. “I think the biggest challenge for a leader is to accept that as a leader she/he is not the hero anymore. When you’re a member of a team doing a job, you are the hero of the story. When you switch to leadership, your role changes. As a leader, you should constantly remind yourself that leadership is all about developing heroes around you. You should help people find the answers themselves. You should develop people who can replace you one day. To me, leadership is about helping people develop, find their own answers, and feel empowered.”
“Transparency, honesty, professional ethics, and people first”, these are her values as a leader. In both Magnus and Joomag, Ani tries to maintain a positive team culture. In her words, “I think team culture is about everyone’s contribution. It’s not about one person. It’s about every team member, and I think this mindset has helped me a lot in my career.”
Ani counsels those working in HR and recruitment to read a lot. “I’ve been meeting many colleagues recently who focus on the practical side of HR, claiming that one cannot learn HR if one’s not practicing it. There’s some truth in that, but we should not underestimate the value of conceptual knowledge. It’s important to read, learn, take courses, and advance. This is true not only in the fast-changing HR field but also in any other. This is the only path that will get one to professionalism. Another thing that I would advise those working or interested in the sphere is to work on creating their personal brand and building a strong network. Finally, I’d advise them to always find ways to give back to the HR community by sharing their skills and helping others grow.”
Future Plans and Perspective on Life
“In today’s world, everything is changing really fast. I try to be present-oriented,” Ani notes. But, she still has goals which she wants to pursue in the future. Ani is planning to pursue a Ph.D. “I really love academia and I also value the self-learning process. I’m seriously thinking about expanding my reach as a lecturer to get greater opportunities for knowledge transfer.”
Another thing Ani is working on is to further grow Magnus, “My goal is to make this Armenia-based company become international. To me, this is a fully implementable task. At all the conferences I have attended, I have had this feeling that we, professionals from Armenia, are underestimating ourselves to a great extent. I believe that we have great potential. I think that many of our local service providers are capable of going international and providing high-level service, still being based in Armenia.”
When asked whether she ever has doubts as to where she is going, Ani comments, “Maybe this is very subjective, but I believe we doubt each and every day in the process of overcoming challenges. We are not the same people as in our social media accounts: always productive, always successful, always reaching achievements. This is something I have reminded myself on and on. It’s okay to lack motivation sometimes, it’s okay to not be productive in some periods of your life. I believe that too is important for paving one’s path.”
As an AUA alumna, Ani advises current AUA students to not study for grades, but for knowledge and to try and gain as much experience as possible. “I had a chance to communicate with AUA students a couple of years ago and I told everyone in the audience that experience really matters, no matter the scope of the job; everything counts, even just volunteering,” she notes. Ani also believes that habits can make or break our chances to become winners, so she advises everyone to develop good habits. “You’d better read ten pages a day than a book in one night, once a year. Invest in your future. I don’t believe in these one-night success stories. Success is not about one night and it’s not about fate, it’s about hard work, daily installments and the right set of habits,” she sums up.