Zulfiya Shigabutdinova: the woman who loved life…

The team of TAIF JSC remembers the colleague who became a victim of COVID-19

Zulfiya Shigabutdinova: the woman who loved life…
Photo: From the Shigabutdinov family's personal archive

Her favourite job, with which she tied her fate more than 22 years ago, happy family where she was a wife and mother of two daughters, and huge plans for life that are not destined to come true. The team of TAIF JSC mourned Zulfiya Shigabutdinova — the head of the foreign economic activity service of the production and commercial department, whose life was cut short by coronavirus.

Burning out in less than 2 weeks

Nothing yet foreshadowed trouble at the beginning of June. Zulfiya Shigabutdinova, the head of foreign economic activity service of the production and commercial department (PKU) and, as the head of the department Leonid Yegorshin called her, “the keeper of calm in the team”, worked enthusiastically, solved the tasks set, made plans for the future. With any, even the most difficult and painstaking work, she coped with external ease and pleasure. She always worked in such a way that she infected everyone who was nearby with enthusiasm.

“We were sure that everything would be fine: her mother and father had coped this insidious disease. She took care of them. She was sure that everything would be fine, she was sure that any trouble could be dealt with," Venera Mustafina, the deputy head of the Production and Commercial Department of TAIF JSC, said, holding back tears with difficulty.

“She used to say: my body is strong, I am a healthy person in life. Since there is an epidemic, it means that we will all get over it, gain collective immunity, and everything will be fine," recalls Inga Ataullina, the marketing and sales specialist of the 1st category of the PKU.

Zulfiya Shigabutdinova loved her daughters very much. Photo: from the Shigabutdinov family's personal archive

During the first week on sick leave, Zulfiya Shigabutdinova actively communicated with colleagues by phone. Not used to sitting around, she solved current issues, gave advice, instructed, helped. Every morning she started with correspondence with two colleagues who fell ill at the same time with her: she asked how they were feeling, tried to support them.

“She still had current work issues. She constantly got in touch with employees in the department, consulted, controlled her direction," Venera Mustafina recalls about the very recent past. “We weren't worried about her at all. We were sure that everything was fine. Then the deterioration began. She stayed in the intensive care unit for 4 days. And then she was gone…"

“It was a shock for us… She was a person who could not eat, could not sleep, could not drink, and at the same time, be in a wonderful mood and amazing performance. And then, when she failed... we did not expect it," another employee of the department, Nelli Tukhvatullina, says with a tremor in her voice. This is probably the first and only time when Zulfiya Shigabutdinova failed to cope with a problem.

Deeds speak for her

“She loved to live properly. This was her main credo. The right thing is to live in such a way as not to harm others. Work in such a way as not to let others down — colleagues, friends, managers… She did everything with such great pleasure that it was impossible to separate: what she liked and what she didn't. She loved everything. She was distinguished by unique modesty, and for this, she was very much respected. It was comfortable to work with her. And she loved to live…"

Zulfiya Shigabutdinova could make the most difficult task an exciting process and involve the whole team in it. Photo: TAIF JSC's press centre

The head of the production and commercial department of TAIF JSC, Leonid Yegorshin, did not agree to an interview immediately. The meeting was held behind closed doors. A man should not show tears. But what to do if it is simply impossible to hold them back.

“For Zulya, there were no insignificant matters in anything at all... in this, she was probably unique. She translated any work, any task into pleasure. Not in a routine, but so that you can do it with pleasure. And the result, of course, was the best. She went from a simple employee to the head of foreign economic activity service. But she was not a careerist — she did not expose her unique abilities, did not strive to go up the career ladder. We were the ones who insisted that she agree to be the boss, because she could succeed at any assignment, lure everyone into performing any of the most difficult tasks so that people themselves did not understand how they managed to do so much in a day and complete the assignment in the shortest possible time... She knew all the subtleties of the work of commercial management and, of course, generously shared her experience…

This conversation was very difficult for Leonid Yegorshin. It was clear that both he and the entire department had lost not just a colleague, but a very close person.

Zulfiya Shigabutdinova's deeds speak for her. Photo: TAIF JSC's press centre

“She never boasted of the work done and success. Deeds speak for her. We all strive for this. And Zulya was a bright representative of this our motto. How did she manage to do everything: to combine work and family, while being completely immersed in the work…

She wanted to become a doctor, but graduated from the mechanics and mathematics department

At school, Zulfiya Shigabutdinova did not even suspect that she would connect her life not just with communicating with people, but also become the best specialist in production and commercial management of one of the largest financial and industrial groups in Russia.

“But she first wanted to become a doctor. After all, Zulfiya's mother passed her working career in medicine. After school, she wanted to go to a medical institute, become a pediatrician. But at some point she changed her mind and went to the mechanics and mathematics department," Venera Mustafina recalls the story of Zulfiya Shigabutdinova.

Zulfiya Shigabutdinova with Venera Mustafina. Photo: from the Shigabutdinov family's personal archive

She even took the first steps on the way to the profession of a doctor. When she was planning to go to a medical institute, she had an internship at the hospital at the educational and production combine at school. She worked as a nurse.

The head of the department also knows about Zulfiya Shigabutdinova's childhood dreams and plans. And he sees nothing surprising in this.

“She always wanted to share warmth. The warmth of the person who strives to help people not only physically, not only to 'prescribe a pill'. She tried to help mentally. Another unique quality of her is that she always found the words that were appropriate in a particular situation," Leonid Yegorshin notes.

We met in Karsar

For Zulfiya Shigabutdinova, the production and commercial management of TAIF JSC was not the first workplace. But it was this company that became her home. Before that, there was Karsar PLC -one of the very first divisions of TAIF Group. At that time, the republic was just beginning to build international relations, and as a result, a structure was needed that would take up the registration of customs operations and deal with declaration issues.

“She worked at the registration site. As a declarant. As an ordinary specialist. At that time, we used the services of Karsar for customs clearance of import and export of goods. Her consultations were very useful for us, because there were no information resources, such as the Internet. She accompanied participants of foreign economic activity to the release of goods, and this was not a simple process, it was necessary to pass five stages of customs inspection and an explanation with customs inspectors," colleagues share their memories.

“That's where we met Zulya. She came to Karsar as a declarant in 1993, and I was already working there. We had a good team there, and she joined it very quickly. The first thing that attracted attention in her was that she was always very kind, huge eyes, a charming smile, a beautiful, melodious laugh, and willingness to help people. We had a lot of clients, including those whose documents were incorrectly issued, and there was a very poor knowledge of the language. Not every declarant was ready to take up such a job. Only Zulya had the patience. And they went to her: “Sister, please help," also barely holding back tears, Marina Abdrazyakova shares her memories — current chief specialist of corporate property and investment management of TAIF JSC. The friendship that began almost three decades ago, time only made it stronger.

“She always had interest in her eyes. She tried to understand or make an impression not formally. She had it. And not only in work — the willingness to show concern, to help.

One of the characteristic features of Zulfiya Shigabutdinova is the sincere desire to help and the willingness to bring any matter to a logical end. Photo: Realnoe Vremya's archive

Amazing efficiency, diligence, responsiveness, and honesty. It is just impossible not to notice so many positive qualities in one person. When the production and commercial management of TAIF JSC began to grow, when the question arose about the selection of specialists, Zulfiya Shigabutdinova was one of the first who was offered to become part of the large team.

“There were specialists in TAIF, of course. But with a growing sales market both internal and external, we needed more people to manage. We needed the best ones. And the experience of girls like Zulfiya was invaluable for us. I had seen Zulya more than once before and knew what she was worth as a professional. I can say that we have never, not for a second, regretted it. For some time, she was a specialist in foreign economic activity, which was close to her previous job. Then the question arose that the department needed a senior analyst and the choice again fell on Zulfiya. It was a completely new direction for her, but she coped with it perfectly," Leonid Yegorshin said about this period. He also added: “She knew how to work with taste. She did it in such a way that we were captivated and fascinated by how she coped and wondered how a person who dreamed of becoming a doctor could work so easily with huge amounts of information, streams of numbers.

There were no minor details for her

Everything that was entrusted, and what Zulfiya Shigabutdinova undertook, very quickly became a perfectly debugged mechanism without false modesty. She delved deeply into all the nuances, in the shortest possible time, becoming a real expert.

“She always thought big. She could see the whole picture: how this or that action, the execution of a contract, an agreement could affect the result of the company as a whole. I can say that she was a ready-made leader. She underestimated herself a little with her natural modesty, but I myself could definitely recommend her for any position within our department and was sure that there would be no shame," Leonid Yegorshin emphasises.

And she was also surprisingly able to win people's favour.

“This is the uniqueness of Zulya: she did not have difficult counterparties, difficult negotiations. If there was a difficult conversation, it was literally the first 15 seconds. Then she could win favour of a person in such a way as to direct the conversation to a corridor favourable to both sides and in strict accordance with the requirements of the law. The conversations and negotiations were always held in a positive and constructive manner," Yegorshin recalls.

Zulfiya Shigabutdinova was very attentive to her colleagues and specialists of the supervised enterprises of TAIF Group: she helped, explained and advised on any issues and at any time. Under such tutelage, yesterday's newcomers quickly gained experience and became highly qualified specialists.

Zulfiya Shigabutdinova was highly responsible for personnel issues and took an active part in the formation of young specialists. Photo: TAIF JSC's press centre

She also did not know how to ask for herself, but she always stood up for what was needed for the common cause and the employees of the department. But even then she didn't ask. There was a reasonable necessity in her voice.

A loving wife and mother

Zulfiya devoted all her free time to her family — her parents, her beloved husband, two daughters, eldest Amina is now 20. She's a student. Youngest Guzelia is 13. She liked to spend her free time with numerous relatives and friends.

“She loved all her relatives very much: her parents, brothers and sisters, whom she has many. She loved everything around her. Friends. We were friends not formally. She invited us to her wedding, too. I was present when the family created. Back in the days of Karsar, we spent a lot of free time on trips to nature. When she got married, she had children, nothing changed. And Zulya is one of the links in this chain," says Marina Abdrazyakova.

One of the most favourite hobbies of the Shigabutdinovs family in their free time is travelling. Photo: from the Shigabutdinov family's personal archive

“She loved her very much and put her soul into daughters. She constantly occupied them with hobby groups with additional classes. But she never forced them. She allowed them to choose what they wanted to do. At a fairly mature age, she mastered driving a car just in order to have more time to do for the family, for the parents," Venera Mustafina recalls.

Zulfiya's husband Marat is an enthusiastic fisherman, and his wife often accompanied him with her daughters. The family liked to travel. On weekends or on vacation, they could get in the car and go to get acquainted with new places on the map of Russia. Or go abroad. But even there, she was constantly in touch, ready to respond at any time and take an active part in solving the next difficult tasks.

“I'll retire and I'll have time for everything”

“Zulya lived for her work. Her work, family, parents were in the first place, and only then she herself," Venera Mustafina told about the priorities in the life of Zulfiya Shigabutdinova.

But she had hobbies and plans. Inga Ataullina shared with them.

“Zulfiya said that she loved to read very much. But there was no time or energy left for this. She used to say: 'When I retire'... She has a large library, and she said that she would definitely reread all these books. And she also wanted to learn the Koran. After all, she always observed Muslim traditions.

The Shigabutdinovs' family had plans for the future, was building a new house and preparing for the upcoming housewarming. Photo: from the Shigabutdinov family's personal archive

“She was always an open, cheerful person. Even when she was observing fasting, and someone had a birthday, she came, congratulates, sat with everyone. She was just with us. And it was also very comfortable to be silent with her. If there is no mood to talk: we sat, were silent, but as if we had a conversation. I have never met such people in whom there would be a combination of so many positive qualities. Why do the best leave?" Nelly Tukhvatullina is bitterly perplexed.

“We have lost the unique person... Zulfiya was one of the most useful people for our management and the company," Leonid Yegorshin is sure.

“I lost a real friend. I lost one of the best people in my life. It is very difficult when such people leave," Marina Abdrazyakova could not keep her emotions under control.

The bitterness of irreparable loss

The deputy director general of TAIF JSC for production and commercial activities — first deputy, Rustem Sulteev, who oversees the company's management, in which Zulfiya Shigabutdinova worked, remembers her with warmth and sadness.

“The departure of Zulfiya Nailovna Shigabutdinova was an irreparable loss for our entire team. We believed and hoped to the last that she would be able to cope with the disease, we fought for her until the very end, but the situation went according to the worst scenario. Zulfiya was not just a professional, she was the soul of the team. We will remember her as a modest, friendly, at the same time, very hardworking person and a highly qualified specialist. It's hard to talk about it in the past tense, it's a pity," Rustem Sulteev said.

The staff of TAIF Group oand the editorial board of Realnoe Vremya online newspaper express their deep condolences to the family and friends in connection with the untimely death of the head of the foreign economic activity service of the production and commercial department of TAIF JSC, Shigabutdinova Zulfiya Nailovna.

We grieve with all our hearts together with you, we share the bitterness and pain of the irreparable loss. The bright memory of the kind and sincere person will forever remain in our hearts.

Arseny Favstritsky
Tatarstan