When business is not always just business. Interview with ILC's founder Valentina Dolmova

March 20, 2023

If you ask someone to describe Valentina, they will probably say something along the lines of: a good coach, a great entrepreneur, a kind-hearted and passionate individual, etc. But if you ask her to describe herself, things look way more interesting.

“Have you watched Frozen? Well, I am the snowman (laughs). Yes, I am Olaf but with a pinch of business!”

Silly or strange - you may think, but for those who truly know Valentina and her heart, that description is indeed a close to reality reflection.

Despite the humor and lightheartedness that she carries today, her story dives deeper than it may seem. She is, yes, a worthy of recognition coach, a passionate psychologist and a goal-oriented entrepreneur, but what people do not realize is that she became those things in the name of helping others.

Let me take you on a journey, starting from the beginning…

Most of us see the CEO of ILC International as a professional coach and entrepreneur. She comes across as someone with a strong sense of discipline and a calm mind. But was she always this way and if not - what built her characteristics?

Her development into who she is today is no “overnight” journey. A bit more than a decade ago, when she still lived in London, working in the investment banking world of consulting, at the age of just 23, she went through a severe burnout. Panic attacks, unexplainable and heavy arrhythmias, migraines, inability to walk in a crowded place were just some of the things that this involved. Back then she had no real idea of how much our minds affect our bodies. All she knew is that something is very much off. Valentina started paying the doctor regular visits thinking that she was physically unwell and searching for answers.

"Imagine my surprise and confusion when after I’ve described all my symptoms or ended up pale as a ghost at 2:00 am in a hospital bed, the doctors continued saying that my health was great!” Valentina recalls.

Realizing that her psychical health was not the root cause of what was happening, made her focus on the mental aspect of wellbeing. She wanted to understand what’s going on. Simple and plain. She needed answers. That is how self-help literature entered her life. The journey wasn't easy or straightforward at all - but it was something. Starting from heavy psychological books on depression and hard to grasp philosophies about life and its meaning, she dove in research. Somewhere among the pages, Val stumbled upon a title that changed everything. “Unleash the Power Within” by Anthony Robbins was her corner stone.

“I didn’t know that what I was reading is actually coaching. All I knew was that it was helping me! For sure faster than the clinical or purely therapy related literature did! It produced results.“ she shares.

She discovered first-hand that coaching carries the potential to help her and others in a practical way. It was about healing and evolving at the same time. Her perception of people, business and the challenges we face - transformed. Valentina shifted her beliefs and deepened her understanding of how complex people are. It gave her an opportunity to approach problems in an entirely different manner.

With full honesty, however, and on the topic of becoming a professional coach, she says:

“They call us “broken healers” for a reason, I think. Hardly ever life has been a bed of roses or a fairy tale when one gets introduced to coaching. Every coach has a history of significant hardships and U-turns before they became the people and specialists they are now. It is not enough to qualify with a degree. It is imperative that you apply what you read and learn about.”

And the creation of her company? Was it all simply a business venture with KPIs?
“Building ILC was an entirely natural process. When you start coaching, supporting others becomes a passion but above all – a duty. It is only logical to think of ways to reach more people and enable them to benefit from my knowledge and experience. If I wanted to have a meaningful impact, I needed to build something bigger than just a "one-man-show". That is how ILC was born!"

Through the journey of building her company, she gradually developed the entrepreneur within. Valentina doesn’t believe that entrepreneurs are born, but rather – that they are created out of life circumstances and refined through practice, bravery, and perseverance.

When I asked her what she thinks is her most valuable quality as a leader she said:

“I work with great leaders, who still doubt themselves every day. I personally have a lot more to learn and work on too. Nevertheless, and even though I will not become perfect any time soon, one of the valuable things I bring to the table at this stage of my leadership journey is the genuine, focused care. I care about the people who work for me and for those I work for. Do not confuse that with lacking business acumen or being involved in an unbalanced way. I simply walk the talk of coaching with all that it entails, aiming at making a difference in people’s lives.”

Valentina says that she wants to provide her team with the things that she needed to flourish and weren’t existing in other organisations. When it comes to her leadership skills, she fully believes in the saying:

“You can't be a good leader if you can't be a good follower.”

Having gone through the dynamics within investment banking, where climbing up the professional ladder is often the greatest achievement one can strive for, she promotes a different culture. One that is still hard-working, but also purpose driven, transparent,and ethical. Leading by example is a must.

Witnessing how the toxic work environments can literally ruin lives, she isn't afraid to swim against the current herself while also helping individuals and companies - achieve meaningful results.

Ms. Dolmova is one of the most hard-working and understanding human-beings that you probably would ever meet…

Whoever has had the chance to be her friend, speak or work with her, had inevitably sensed her ability to see things beyond the trivial and much further in the future. She goes deeper than the facial expressions or tone of voice. She sees you. And the most admirable part is that Valentina is genuinely patient. She wouldn’t judge or push people when they are not ready to talk about something or have problems they still pretend don't exist. Respect for the process perhaps and an understanding of how to expedite it without stressing people out. Who knows why? Perhaps a coach is a coach even when the workday ends…or maybe she knows what is to be on the other side - to have problems you don't understand yet, frantically searching for solutions that are urgently needed but not found yet...

In a nutshell, a true "broken-healer" and a leader with more than just a pinch of business in her blood-stream.

You can ask her directly on our website or via LinkedIn (@valentina-dolmova)

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Viktoria Vechernikova

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