Varvara Reva started with Kiwi.com as a travel consultant. Two years and two promotions later, she couldn’t be happier
Happy-go-lucky – these are the words that spring to mind when I meet Varvara Reva for the first time. She has pink hair and a tan from a recent trip to South Africa; she talks a lot, laughs a lot, and smiles through the whole interview. Of course, happy-go-lucky are the wrong words to choose; they imply that someone doesn’t have a care in the world. And Varvara is clearly a very driven woman.
Varvara has worked for Kiwi.com for two years. Her first position was as a travel consultant while the Moldovan studied tourism management in the Czech Republic. At the time, Kiwi.com’s customer support department was small – only 30 people – and, almost immediately, Varvara was promoted.
“I worked as a travel consultant for two months and then was moved into training – so it was super fast,” Varvara says. “I can’t imagine that it would happen in any other company than Kiwi.com. And it changed my plans for the future because I thought that I wanted to continue studying but when I started to work as a trainer, I realised that I’d wanted to do this job for a long time.”
Moldova is one one of the former Soviet Republics, and it lies landlocked between Ukraine and Romania. While life has improved since the fall of communism, the country has not developed at the rate of some of the other eastern bloc countries.
The work is mostly in agriculture, or in the cities there is maybe a job to be found in a small office or bank. Varvara says: “We don’t have any big companies, nothing at all. I don’t know what I would do there. I think I would just work in a bank which would be super boring I think – I always imagine this grey office and everybody’s just wearing grey.” If this is the case, Varvara’s pink hair would certainly stand out.
But it is a beautiful country of rolling, green hills covered in vineyards. Moldova is famous for its wine, and its huge wine cellars. “Wine is what we are most proud of,” Varvara says. “And my family are winemakers. My great-granddad started this tradition. He bought a vineyard and we’ve made wine for four generations now. Every time my friends visit this is like the coolest thing I can offer them – my dad’s wine”
And the Czech Republic is famous for its wine too? “Yes, of course. I love the Moravian wine as well. It’s different from ours – we make dry wine and here it’s more a sweet wine but you can’t compare them. When I’m at home I have this pride that it’s our own wine. It’s the best wine in the world and you can’t really compare it to any other.”
As well as being vintners, Varvara’s parents are architects and run their own business in Chișinău, the capital of Moldova. They grew up under communism and Varvara says that they are “super open-minded” and never restricted her or her brother.
I ask whether this may be because of what they experienced in their own youth: “I think, yes, it definitely has something to do with this,” she answers. “They saw all the Soviet countries but they never had the chance to go further. Every time I am travelling now they tell me how happy they are because they never had these opportunities.”
While she was studying in Brno, Varvara spent a year in Rovaniemi, a city on the edge of the Arctic Circle in Finland (“It’s the home of Santa Claus!”), on the Erasmus programme. But it is her recent trip to South Africa that she is most excited about at the minute.
Recently, Kiwi.com opened a new customer support centre in Durban – and the new staff needed training. Varvara was one of the team sent there for a month to carry this out. “Oh my god, it was so amazing,” she says. “It was just a perfect experience. We went to Cape Town on the Cape of Good Hope where the Indian and the Atlantic oceans meet. We were standing there and this small tear just ran down my cheek. It was so beautiful.”
She says that the new team were so excited and attentive during the training that it was some of the most fulfilling work she has carried out for Kiwi.com. “I would turn around and they would all sit up. Like everyone was ready to write down every word I said. They were so attentive and ready to learn.”
Many of the South African staff have never travelled out of Durban, let alone set foot inside an airport. There were tears whenever they were told that four members would be visiting the Czech Republic to meet the rest of the company.
So that they can experience flying, and the hassle of getting through an airport, the rest of the South African team will receive weekend breaks in Cape Town – a two and a half hour flight away.
Now, Varvara is back in Brno and working on keeping her South African tan. She has been promoted again and is getting to grips with her new job as a development specialist. This means that she is working on making sure that Kiwi.com’s staff have the opportunity to grow within the company, and don’t need to look elsewhere for new opportunities.
“It’s all about the career path and creating individual development plans for people,” she says. “I really want everyone to stay and really want them to be successful. It’s what I was missing in training – coaching and support after people go onto the floor. So now it’s all about personal development, coaching, support and mentoring.”
After finishing university, Varvara had never planned to stay in the Czech Republic. She had wanted to move on and study or find work elsewhere. But at Kiwi.com she found her calling – and her new role is apposite. Varvara started on the call floor and she has grown and developed with the support of everyone around her. Now it is her turn to give everyone else the same chance.
To apply for a job with Kiwi.com, visit Kiwi.com/jobs