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Spotlight Series: Leyla Alieva, CEO & Co-Founder, NEOL Copper Technologies Ltd

Leyla Alieva

ARTICLE SUMMARY

Meet Leyla Alieva, Co-founder and CEO of NEOL Copper Technologies Ltd. From financial management to pioneering in lubricants and now steering NEOL's global expansion, her career showcases the power of versatility and resilience.

After her degree in financial management, Leyla Alieva worked for over 12 years in Investment banking, private equity, alternative fund management before moving to top level business development and executive management positions.

Prior to co-founding NEOL, she served as the CEO of CUPPER Group, a company specialising in the development and manufacturing of lubricants and greases, where she gained two years of valuable experience.

How did you land your current role? Was it planned? 

My role as the Co-founder and CEO of NEOL Copper Technologies was planned. However, the way I ended up in CUPPER is a bit more interesting. In 2014 my husband Dmitry met an engineer, who was the founder of CUPPER Group, a science-based developer and manufacturer of technical lubricants based on its own alternative additive technology. The uniqueness of this technology, and the way it not only contributed to improved longevity and efficiency of engines and gears but did this in a way that is more sustainable and better for the environment, lead to my husband’s interest and investment in the company. This was initially a passive investment, as we were living and working in South-East Asia. However, in 2020 we returned and realised we needed to take a more active role in the company. CUPPER was looking to expand to the next level and needed to bring someone in to lead the process. Dmitry had a full-time job, and I had not yet found the right project for me after being in a personal growth mode for 6 years (i.e. acting as a full-time mother and wife). So, he offered me the position of group’s CEO. I stayed in that role for two years before we decided to take this wonderful technology global and start NEOL.

What are the key roles in your field of work, and why did you choose your current expertise? 

In this field of work, as an entrepreneur starting up my own company some of the key roles include attracting investment and talent, whilst building a brand and a business. I knew I had great potential and skills regarding initiating and nurturing projects, building very good teams, finding creative solutions, and strategies – all essential skills and roles in this field of work. There is a fine balance between looking for potential new investors, ideas and being open-minded, whilst still having a clear idea of what your business plan is and sticking to what you want, and feel is best. It is crucial that you are innovative as well as disciplined.

What are you most proud of in your career, so far? 

I am proud of being able to transition into a totally unknown field and make it my own. I’ve had to step out of my comfort zone and challenge myself, establishing a career in this field and industry. Seeing how it’s progressed and how much I’ve grown alongside my company has been incredible.

What does an average workday look like for you? 

My workday is combined by my two jobs, CEO of NEOL, and being a wife and a mother of three children. My day starts bright and early making sure the children are set for school. Then I have to fulfil my work plan for a day before they return home. There is always a lot of meetings and video-calls with my team and external counterparties. But I absolutely need to fit in some quiet time when I can concentrate and think. I also have to make sure I have some motivational potential leftover for my children’s prep work and creativity for a family dinner. As a CEO and a mum my workday never fully ends, but luckily, I get to do what I love and am passionate about.

Have you ever faced insecurities and anxieties during your career, and how did you overcome them?

Building a career has always been full of insecurities and anxiety for me. There were more when I was younger, and less now. I can’t remember the exact techniques I used to overcome them, but I know it’s always about changing the way you look at things and finding the right angle. By constantly expanding our picture of the world and developing a clear vision we can overcome our own limitations. It is important to work on developing your mindset and having the right outlook on things in order to stay motivated and driven.

Entering the world of work can be daunting. Do you have any words of advice for anyone feeling overwhelmed? 

Small steps taken everyday lead to big distances walked. Progress and result don’t always happen overnight, but it’s crucial to always remember that every little step taken is bringing you closer to your goal.

What advice would you give other women wanting to reach their career goals in technology? 

I would advise them to embrace their own unique journey and skills and appreciate their own individuality. It’s important to never stop learning and to be open to input, and creative ideas. Stay focused on what your goals are, and don’t waste your time on projects and efforts you know aren’t right for you. Stay focused and true to yourself, and don’t let minor setbacks affect your confidence.

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