EVEN before our online interview Sasha Kazantseva-Miller has fixed my Microsoft Teams problem, and offered reassuring words ‘it’s a learning journey, be easy on yourself. I’ve resent the link, it’s not very obvious how to do it, I can show you next time we meet in person’.
I had wondered if some of the other States members would have felt intimidated by her impressive curriculum vitae; after all she has worked in different continents for global brands such as Google and L’Oreal, she has started up her own businesses, she is multi-lingual with fluency in three languages, and if that is not enough she also represented Guernsey in the 2017 Island Games volleyball team.
However, this force of nature said that while her corporate background was helpful, there was a lot to understand in her new job.
‘When you’re in the public domain working in government you do operate on slightly different conditions and parameters. It’s not just about profits and realising return on investment and things like that, you do have to balance a bigger spectrum of priorities and interests and capital.
‘It’s about financial return, but also social return, environmental return and human capital return, and when you’re in government you have to look at maximising all of them.
‘In corporate often you’re looking to maximise the financial return. So it’s useful, but I’m also humble enough to realise I have a lot to learn and it’s not just about transposing the lessons from corporate to government.’
On Economic Development, and the Development & Planning Authority, Deputy Kazantseva-Miller said she was loving the intellectual challenge and the variety of topics.
Regarding priorities she rattled off a long list of initiatives that she is working on alongside others, and the word that kept popping up was ‘digital’, in particular: a digital framework, digital skills, and better broadband internet connectivity for businesses and homes.
An enterprise plan is also on the agenda to stimulate local entrepreneurship and innovation, and a revamp of Skills Guernsey.
The blue and green economies are other matters on Deputy Kazantseva-Miller’s radar, looking at how the island can tap into the economic opportunities in sustainable, cleaner technologies.
‘Action not words’ was her election campaign motto and she was delighted that ‘action today’ has become a general motto for the whole Assembly, and said she could see the commitment to that ethos from all of the States members. ‘I think it’s been very positive so far, perhaps partly because we haven’t voted on anything too controversial yet. I think there was some interesting debates around minimum wage and the Budget in November, but apart from that there hasn’t been anything controversial.
‘I’m sure there will be more controversial topics where there will be very different political views, but I think so far there has been a genuine desire to work together and to listen, so hopefully that continues.’
Known usually by the single name ‘Sasha’, she is now learning to play the piano accordion, but she threw her head back and laughed when I suggested she was the Madonna of the States.
‘At some point last year I did consider whether I should drop my Kazantseva surname and just adopt my English husband’s surname, but then I realised that I am absolutely still Sasha Kazantseva, I should be proud of that and I should embrace that, it’s just part of us being an international society and embracing diversity and change.’