Spotlight on Russell Zehtab-Noghiu by Susannah Grant

This month’s Spotlight focuses on INC’s very own, multi-faceted, multi-racial, Community Relations and Advertising executive as well as educator, trainer, entrepreneur, mentor and champion of women, mother of 3, Russell Zehtab-Noghiu.

  1. You and your husband could be United Nations just on your own, can you take us through the 11 different ethnicities you have between you both.

Well my husband, Alain, is part Romanian, Hungarian, German, Jewish, Slovak and Russian. The latter is the nationality we share, as well as our Bahai faith.  Whilst I’m partly Filipina, Spanish, Iranian, Chinese, Turkish and Russian. We arrived in Madrid in August 2016, after having lived in Holland for 6 years.

  1. What was it like growing up in Central Philippines, has this had any particular bearing on your outlook of life as an adult?

Central Philippines is “the islands”, so we have the gorgeous sunsets and beaches. Being exposed to intense natural beauty, one then seeks it in all the places one visits. At the same time, we are exposed to the most severe typhoons and natural calamities. The capacity to arise and rebuild is built into the Filipino psyche. In the blink of an eye, a whole village disappears from the map, yet at the same time, everyone alive after the calamity, contributes to rebuilding the community in any way they can. So one sees the most humbling coming together of people.

  1. How did you adapt to living in Holland for 6 years?

The secret of living in Holland is “do not hate the weather or talk about it”. You carry on regardless despite the WINDS, RAINS, COLD and DARKNESS. Also, everyone bikes, so I had the best developed leg muscles in Holland ever, in my life.

While in Holland, we set up a public speaking training program for kids, which I have continued here in Madrid.  My children were the inspiration for this. They can talk my ear off, and during those rare moments when they share something significant, I am totally blown away by their skills. If they are educated and trained to speak with dignity, eloquence and grace, then they are ready to face the world….and so the work continues.

  1. What inspired you to set up Silk Mentoring?

I was lucky to have mentors in my life who were just awesome, strong and seriously tough cookies. I think all women should have a tribe of their own who support them unconditionally.

The Silk Mentoring program uses this platform as a tool for personal and professional development to help women determine their goals and next steps whilst empowering them in their command of English as a second language.

  1. I gather, having loathed camping you actually rather love it these days ….but are you a happy camper or more of a gorgeous glamper?

I am of the opinion that all women are adaptable creatures. Saying this, caravanning or camping is a shocking experience the first time, especially if you are used to a lot of space. Leaving your home and actually having only the barest of essentials makes one realize that many things are not necessary and they take up space and time.

  1. If you could wave a magic wand what would you do next in your life?

Wow!….I will definitely be on stage and sing with Madonna and George Michael…will be eating dinner in the markets of Tabriz and Tehran…scuba diving in Palawan…. listening to Rumi and Khalil Gibran whispering poetry to me. I guess that means in my next life, I am either a fairy…or I own that machine from Startrek.