03.04.2020Armenian by Birth
Born in Armenia, Artyom Shamtsyan bounced around different parts of his country and Russia as a child, even spending his fourth and fifth grade years in Algeria.
“It was stressful, but looking back, that stress helped me adapt to pretty much any environment. Now I can not only survive, but actually excel, in any new environment.”
It’s because of this that his perspective on repatriation is a bit unconventional. “I don’t think two or three steps ahead,” he explains, “once I was mature enough to make my own decisions, I simply thought ‘what is best for me right now?’ For example, I realized that for my higher education, Armenia was actually a pretty good choice.”
He ended up doing his Bachelor’s and first Master’s degree at the National Polytechnic University of Armenia, after which he moved to Rochester, New York, for a second one. Artyom’s pragmatic approach led to the opening of one of the first outsourcing companies in Armenia, where he stayed from 2005-2010. Going with the flow of his life, his next adventure took him to Kazakhstan, working for their government and leading their center of competence of e-government, before ending up in Boston for a few years. However, the connection to his roots was a constant. “The first thing when I went to a new town was to check if they had an Armenian church, an Armenian community, how active it was, and how I could integrate into it. And often I did end up finding that and meeting new people from the community. A place like Rochester, they have a very limited community, and in these cases you become a sort of storyteller about Armenia for them.”
Now Chief Innovation and Digital Officer at Repat Armenia's partner bank Ameriabank, Artyom became familiar with the institution while in Boston. Though he had already made the decision to move to Armenia with his family, he had not begun looking for work or actively applying anywhere. The whole thing was quite accidental. From there, the relationship took its natural course; he would be a good fit for Ameriabank and they would be a good fit for him.
The department and position didn’t exist prior to Artyom joining the team. He worked to build it from the ground up, gathering the responsibilities scattered across different departments. It was only when he joined Ameriabank that a centralized digitization and innovation department was set up. This move by the bank is unprecedented for Armenia - to set up pretty much self-sufficient, fintech company from a ground up. Moreover, that new entity is not constrained by internal automation pipeline only but is equally active in discovery of the next, breakthrough products and services for the local market and beyond, which by itself, is amazingly challenging and motivating.
“In general, the experience so far has been very pleasing, mostly for its personnel. The vast majority of the team believe in change and us working together to make it happen. The Amerians really believe that we can build this together. That’s a point I’d like to make to people in the diaspora or people in other countries: that there are many opportunities here in Armenia, in Ameriabank. My example is just one opportunity to do work on this kind of scale. It’s a challenge, but, today, this country needs people to take such challenging positions.”
The job in Artyom’s eyes is not only good for him and good for the bank, but also a contribution to the country in and of itself. “The Ameriabank these days plays an instrumental role in creating good for the people of Armenia,” he says. “And I want to amplify that.”
Outside of work, Artyom is an active family man with three kids. He sees Armenia as a great place to raise children, and views the prospects children have here as one of the country’s major upsides. “It’s a good place to be. So many new things are being built, and now you can find so many opportunities to make a difference, much bigger than you can elsewhere.”
For finding such personal success and contributing, there is no better place than Armenia, because what you are contributing to is your own people and your own nation. In a place like the US, even at an equal or higher level of achievement and success, the contribution just doesn’t taste as sweet. Anyone who’s thinking about making the move should come visit and see Armenia for themselves beforehand, Artyom suggests. You can read and research all you want, but actually experiencing Armenia is a different story. Everyone always raves about the food and nature, but certain aspects of the country are simply ineffable. It is these aspects, such as the nature of the hospitality here that will draw people in.
“Make the first step. Come Armenia, and you will be pleasantly surprised. Afterwards, you can decide on your next steps, but at least you will have made the conscious and informed choice.”