Helen Pospelova: Building Cross-Cultural Connections through Digital Intelligence across the World

ABBYY is a digital intelligence company that empowers organizations to access the valuable, yet often hard to attain insights into their operations that enables real business transformation. The company believes that data provides the fuel for digital transformation. When enterprises are finally able to access the wealth of existing data through the performance of their processes and the content moving through them, thegain the critical insight necessary to raise their Digital IQ. The company’s customers and partners can be found in almost every vertical and region in the world. More than 5,000 companies, including many of the Fortune 500 in finance, insurance, transportation and logistics, healthcare, and other industries use ABBYY technologies.  

ABBYY’s digital intelligence platform is designed to allow organizations to deploy solutions in standalone configurations or as a tightly integrated extension of industry-leading RPA, BPM, and packaged application solutions. The company has a worldwide presence with Headquarters in the United States and offices in 14 countries, including Germany, UK, France, Spain, Russia, Cyprus, Ukraine, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, Hungary, Australia, and Japan.  


Leading Business Growth by Reaching Out to a Broader Audience 

Helen Pospelova is the Senior Vice President of ABBYY Emerging Markets. She believes that her aptitude for building strong cross-cultural connections, finding a unique approach to people from different countries and developing effective networks across borders, shaped her professional ability to form successful international partnerships and alliances. Along with these qualities, Helen also considers her agility to recognize untapped opportunities is a key factor that determined her future career path in the promising IT sector. With an experience spanning over 20 years in the field, Helen reveals that the industry is still on the verge of reaching its full potential. 

Helen Pospelova graduated from Lomonosov Moscow State University in 1991 (Faculty of Applied Mathematics and Cybernetics) with a specialization in computer science. Helen recently completed the Stanford-NUS Executive Program in International Management at the National University of Singapore and Stanford GSB. Having keen interest in unique groundbreaking technologies and understanding the great potential of the global IT sector, Helen always aimed to introduce advanced solutions to broader audiences, discovering and developing new markets for the industry expertise. Prior to joining ABBYY, Helen worked as project manager on UNIX software development projects in Japan. After returning to Russia, she joined Samsung Research Center in Moscow as the acquisition manager for cutting-edge software technologies. Helen joined ABBYY in 2001 and shortly became the head of the International Sales Department, which later evolved into a separate highly cash-generating profit-center.  

Today, Helen is the Senior Vice President at the ABBYY Group and the leader of the ABBYY Emerging Markets office, where she is responsible for strategic alliances and company growth in developing economies. Her business direction is primarily focused on the Asian and African markets owing to its great commercial potential and profound understanding of local approaches to conducting business.  


Start Compact and Prudent to Achieve Profitable Outcomes 

Helen mentions how some people in business are prone to making significant decisions without considering all possible outcomes. For example, heavily investing in marketing and PR, or putting all budget in one big market, while omitting other small ones, and anticipating above-average revenues resulting from these decisions. She believes that such an approach often results in huge and unforeseen losses, which is equal to putting all eggs in one basket. Helen states that big and promising investments may not pay off, while you run a risk of losing all money and hence, she chooses a different strategy that can be referred to as “Big Fish in Small Pond.”  

Helen’s strategic approach consists of becoming a prominent industry player in various market segments. To achieve that, she says, it is crucial to carefully explore the markets, and find the solution that a client needs in each of themHer executive experience undoubtedly demonstrated that such a system works more efficiently than the traditional approach. According to Helen, it was only after thorough exploration of ABBYY’s markets that the company became top-notch experts with superior expertise in the field. Along with her team, Helen put those bricks of knowledge and experience together into great and profitable projects. Under her strategic leadership, new office in Hong Kong has been opened. However, its most recent proudest accomplishment is its new office in Singapore that was inaugurated in 2020 whilst all the global uncertainty. Helen believes that this office will become the company’s new strong regional hub for business in the whole of Asia. This is because Singapore is renowned as crossroads for innovations in artificial intelligence, cloud computing and other cutting-edge technologies. 


Striving Towards Gaining Trust in Foreign Markets 

Helen reveals that launching ABBYY solutions in the developing countries, including regions of Asia, the Middle East and Africa went hand in hand with great responsibility and challenges. Previously, very few global companies could enter and develop those markets successfullyAccording to Helen, it was fairly challenging to grow business in countries with unique cultures, different languages, and distinct local approaches towards commercial activities, especially in the IT sphere. Inestimable effort trying to gain deeper understanding of foreign markets, lack of brand awareness in these regions, all contributed to that risk equation. Helen believes that these obstacles only sparked more interest and prompted her team to go farther.  

In 2010, the new office coordinated commercial activity in 40 countries, 33 of which had local partners, and 5 of which were in specific focus. Evidently, there was a carefully elaborated unique strategy, which relies on the company’s regional partners, providing precious business network in emerging economies, where ABBYY successfully sells its solutions. Despite recent obstacles such as closed borders, the company was able to complete several fruitful projects in Asia and Africa. Helen expresses her gratitude to the partners’ ecosystem oversees, which allowed the company to ‘be virtually present’ in the remote markets.   


The Rise of Digitization Enhancing the Future of Business 

Helen Pospelova believes that 2020 was a disruptive year to the new normal. Although the importance of technology investment and digital transformation across the enterprises was present already, the COVID crisis brought a major change in accelerating digital transformation across enterprises in the world.  

Helen highlights the major trends seen in the fast-changing world and shares the immediate opportunities that the agile and nimble companies can catch for their success in the new era. According to Helen, there are three influential things happening today and they are: 

1. The significant rise of Digital WorkersThe world witnessed the boom of software that is able to imitate human actions. For example, capture solutions, screen robots, or other automation methods provide business users additional customization options needed for their processes.  

2. Citizens/enterprise developers’ era. The new set of developers are sometimes not professional individuals, or working in the IT department of enterprises, despite creating automation inside the business environment. This means that they no longer want a general ready-to-use solution but are looking for personalized puzzles of software to set the system for their own business needs.  

3. This creates completely new business models for software vendors in collaboration with their channels to provide the customers with the right pieces of software puzzle necessary to solve the exact business problem. 


Be a Team Player, Exploit Risks, and Keep Innovating 

A strong leader herself, Helen has some tips for all emerging leaders. The first one is complete, not compete. It is fundamental to understand the interest of each party and while acting upon those interests, one can improve the existing ecosystem, be it demand for advanced IT solutions in emerging economies, or democratizing technology in a broader sense. Helen believes that it is paramount to avoid viewing other industry players solely as competitors, but instead consider them as potential partners. Especially in the highly innovative IT sector, there is a good chance that company’s technologies can be complemented and further improved with the knowledge of the “competitors” and vice-versa. Helen says that bussing leaders should foresee the benefits of working together; striving for common goals, while gaining their own competitive edge in business and it is all about fruitful collaboration. In other words, one creates a more opportunity-rich industry because of one’s commercial activity. One plus one equals five! Hence, instead of blindly seeking ‘disruptive innovation’, all should aim for ‘transformative innovation’.   

According to Helen’s next tip, two main components go into the equation: Trust and Respect. Even though they sound intangible, they are the most precious asset business can get. When undertaking a new commercial project, it is crucial to keep in mind not just the economic reward, but also take it as an opportunity to nurture new business relationships and build trust. Respect the counterpart and remember you are working together for a common goal, and both are on the same playing field. Productive cooperation, demonstrating strong commitment, and helping each other to prosper will make success inevitable for both sides. Helen reiterates that this is the only way to do thriving business in the long run. 

Helen’s last tip is based on a profound Japanese proverb, which accurately reflects her attitude towards any risk and any possible challenge she might encounter on the way. The proverb goes “Nana korobi, ya oki” which translates as “fall down seven times, stand up eight. Helen considers that risk is an integral element of success. As the world is going through a turbulent time, many are seeking stability, avoiding perils at any cost. Helen believes that this is a tremendous mistake done by millions of people today. According to her, there is no growth, no development, and no accomplishments without risks. On the contrary, stability and risk-avoidance leads to slow but sure decline. Helen asks the emerging leaders to not be afraid, accept responsibility for taking risks, and own the consequences because this is the only way to stay ahead of competitors and lead the way.