Meet Tatyana—Vice President, Credit Card Benefits at Wells Fargo.
I owe to my language skills every job I’ve had.
Languages: Russian, English, Spanish, French (fluent in these four); Italian, Portuguese (intermediate in these two)
Grew Up In: Suburb of Moscow, Russia
College & Majors:
- Master’s: Middlebury College – Spanish Language & Literature
- Bachelor's: Morningside College – International Business; Spanish
- as a high school student: United States
- as a college student: U.K.
- as a graduate student: Spain
- as a professional: France
Additional training or certifications: Numerous language courses at Alliance Française de Chicago; Italidea Chicago; Japanese Culture Center, Chicago. I am also a member of Board of Directors at WorldChicago.
How have your language and cultural skills supported and/or enhanced your professional opportunities?
I owe to my language skills every job I’ve had. Although my professional experience spans across a number of industries—including academia, educational publishing, e-learning, consulting, and financial services—my knowledge of languages has been instrumental in helping me stand out among other candidates.
For example, I got my latest job in credit card product development at a Fortune 100 company thanks to my fluency in Spanish, which other finalists did not have. Since U.S. financial institutions have to communicate about their products to Spanish-speaking communities in their preferred language and want to develop products that are helpful to this segment, there is a strong desire to hire professionals who are familiar with this population and who can speak the language. As part of my job, I get to advocate for Spanish-preferred communities every day and help my company develop credit card products that are the most helpful for them.
Since, as language learners, we tend to study abroad and travel, I learned how to listen to other people who are not like me and appreciate and get excited about different ways of doing things. The empathy I developed while making friends from across the world helps me to successfully lead projects at work, while forming strong partnerships with people who are different than me.
What advice would you share with current language learners or those considering studying a language?
Studying a language is one of the most beautiful things in life. It helps us connect with people who are different than us, learn to celebrate our differences, and feel part of something greater than ourselves. People who get to experience this first-hand are happy people because they are always experiencing the excitement and energy of new people and things.
Learn as many languages as you can and keep connecting with others who are different than you! Watch your life become more enriched every day.
It’s often said that English is the language of global business, and because of that, language skills aren’t necessary to succeed. Do you agree or disagree? Why?
I disagree because my personal story proved this to not be true. While you certainly can get by with only speaking English, you will miss out on being able to fully understand your target market in another country and on being able to form stronger and deeper relationships with your colleagues, partners, and clients from other cultures. I believe that without speaking the language of another culture, you won’t be able to fully understand its people. Try speaking to someone from another culture in their native language, and you will discover firsthand the magic of connecting with someone in their language.
Do you have an interesting, moving, or humorous anecdote featuring your language skills to share?
On a recent trip to Sweden, I went to the pharmacy to buy some toothpaste. I don’t speak Swedish but was sure to learn the basics for my trip. While at the register, the cashier and I greeted each other in Swedish, and said our “thank you/you are welcome,” also in Swedish. My son, who was with me, exclaimed: “Mom, the entire conversation was in Swedish!”
While seemingly insignificant, this experience made me feel like a local and that I belonged. This is probably why I love to travel—with just a handful of phrases, you can feel like a local, no matter where in the world you are!
Check out our Connect with Russian and Connect with Nordic Languages pages—or explore another language of your choosing—for information about university programs, scholarship opportunities, testimonials, and more!
Then tell us how you put your language skills to work @LangConnectsFdn on social media.
Know a multilingual professional who's using language skills in their work or career? Refer them to us for consideration in an upcoming Professional Profile.