IIP Digital: Yulia Khitrova. On the Cutting Edge of Business



Yulia Khitrova is one of the participants in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum’s Women and the Economy Summit, which takes place September 13–16 in San Francisco.

Washington — Yulia Khitrova decided to leave her formerly promising job at a public research institute in St. Petersburg and jump into Russia’s emerging business sector after the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991.

“These were exciting and fascinating times for the country as everyone was frantically and creatively trying to learn market-economy basics,” said Khitrova, who wanted to apply her interests in technology and innovation to business. After short stints in various companies, Khitrova, who has a master’s degree in engineering, joined Speech Technology Center Limited, based in St. Petersburg, in 1992. The company, founded in 1990, develops digital video and audio recorders, multichannel voice recorders for call centers, speech signal analyzers, and units that filter out noise and enhance speech. It has offices in five countries.

“It was a relief to be contributing to the development of something absolutely new rather than selling something created by someone else,” Khitrova said. She is now Speech Technology Center’s chief commercial officer and serves on the boards of Russia’s speech technologies consortium and St. Petersburg State University. She credits a Peace Corps volunteer who was a retired American business executive with helping the startup Speech Technology Center pinpoint its short- and long-term goals. The volunteer “was instrumental in helping us conceptualize exactly what kind of a company we wanted to build,” she said.

Yulia Khitrova
Yulia Khitrova

Khitrova said one of the main challenges in her job is predicting what customers will want. “To stay on the cutting edge, we need to do this every day. It’s a bit like Nostradamus meets Steve Jobs,” she said, referring to the 16th-century French seer and the co-founder of Apple Inc.

Khitrova advises women starting out in business not to be afraid of making their own way. “Don’t copy other people’s road to success,” she said. “Create your individual approach.”

“Most importantly, be respectful of your colleagues,” she said. The environment of Speech Technology Center is more like a family than a business unit, she added. As a company leader, she focuses on motivating her employees to maintain their creativity. “Imagination is an integral part of success in every endeavor,” she said.

Khitrova’s interest in innovation has made her want to know more about the latest trends in technology. “The summit,” she said, “will attract inspiring businesswomen from all over the world who have realized their business ambitions. These meetings will definitely give me new inspiration.”

She looks forward to sharing what she learned at the summit with other businesswomen when she returns to Russia.

Read more: IIPDigital, By Kathryn McConnell | Staff Writer | 08 September 2011