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The power of the Bagratuni Royal Dynasty for a new Armenia

2018-07-13 11:18

«De Facto » N 144 ( 05-06/2018)

A businessman from the Armenian Diaspora and founder of ‘Davtian International Limited’ (DIL), David Davtian was a student when the ambition to explore and find himself took him to different countries where he faced many challenges. But these experiences revealed his authentic path to success which he wants to share with his motherland and to use his skills and knowledge to invest in Armenia’s development. He regularly comes to Armenia to engage in different projects and develop patriotic activity.

As he is currently visiting Armenia, we took this opportunity to talk to him about his background, his accomplishments and goals and his pride at belonging to the noble Bagratuni Royal Dynasty.


Mr Davtian, firstly we are delighted to see you in Armenia and we’re proud to have a compatriot who has a company with such international prominence. You regularly come to Armenia to give lectures to young people and transfer your experience and knowledge, so what is the purpose of your visit to Armenia this time?

- Thank you so much for your kind words. My homeland is in my heart and blood and that longing brings me to Armenia several times a year, to my hometown Hrazdan and to my ancestral village Solak. But over the years my visits have become increasingly business related due to being an international specialist on business development and the founder of DIL. I began to receive invitations from universities to give lectures and conduct masterclasses and I hope to share my knowledge and develop the potential of young Armenians.

My current trip is for business but the recent political events taking place in Armenia, and the nationwide movement which I and the Armenian community have been following closely from abroad, compelled me to come earlier than planned to participate in the Velvet Revolution. This national revival is the reflection of the hope burning in Armenian youth and I’m gratified that everything went so peacefully and without losses, an unprecedented revolution in history.

-  We’ll get to the revolution later, but before that I would like to talk about the path you followed which was full of interesting and difficult moments, and it is noteworthy that your alert and curious mind set has enabled you to accomplish almost all your dreams. Would you tell me more about your journey to this point?

- I’ve lived an interesting life, facing new challenges every day whilst looking to find myself and my place by using a strong will to overcome despair and difficulties. Everything that I’ve accomplished today is a result of a difficult path that I chose to pursue voluntarily and with love.

I was born and grew up in Hrazdan town, Kotayki Marz, Armenia and my grandfathers were from the village Solak, which is the most beloved place for me, especially the Mayravank, inherited from Middle Ages, and its scenery is in front of my eyes every single day and accompanies me in my heart.

I was 17 when I lost my mother and it was a heavy and devastating blow to our family. My sister, my brother and I found inner strength to go forward and not to weaken in despair. It’s now 8 years since I lost my father and I miss them both every day.

I went to school Number 10 after Vl. Mayakovsky in Hrazdan, and at the same time I started swimming, competed in many tournaments and won many prizes and certificates. After finishing school my family decided that I should enrol at the ‘Armenian National Agrarian University’, known as ‘Yerevan Agricultural Institute’ at the time. It was not my choice but I persevered. I worked on a construction site to earn money whilst studying as I had a principle to never to ask my parents for money and from a very young age I’ve always found ways of earning an income.

After two years at university I understood that it was not the right place for me and I had an opportunity to go to Poland to engage in further construction work. Compared with the darkness and poor life conditions in Armenia, Poland was like discovering America! There was electricity, perfectly maintained roads and people were smiling. After two months of working there I returned to Armenia although had I already decided that I wouldn’t stay. I decided to begin my quest of finding myself and moving forward which would hopefully create a better life for me and my family.

My decision to leave Armenia wasn’t welcomed by my relatives, except my uncle who supported my decision. I went to Lvov, Ukraine, and from there to Poland where I made friends and found work to support myself. I learnt Polish in three months and speak it so fluently that people believe it’s my mother tongue! I then went to Germany and later to France. But I must say that after having travelled around most of the world, my soul, my mind and concern were always connected to Armenia. It’s with a heavy heart that I’ve viewed existing problems here and I have a strong desire to be of service to my motherland as much as possible.

Why did you want to serve in French foreign Legion? What did you achieve throughout those years?

- Military service was an important stage for my personal identity. I was 19 when I applied in Strasbourg to be accepted into the French Foreign Legion, which is a very difficult process. You are required to pass special exams and rigorous medical testing and to have a specific set of skills. Only 2 out of 40 applicants pass this stage and I was one of them. So I had become a contractual soldier for five years in a professional army and experienced warfare. I learnt Serbian and carried out several tasks working as an interpreter and driver and was responsible for providing security for NATO’s principal members. When we came back from the war, we were given a month to rest. I then took 3 months off during which I was able to think about my future and whether I should continue to serve or choose a different route. When I reported my decision not to extend my contract, it was accepted painfully since each legionnaire is a result of a great investment and training but my decision was firm.

During my military career, I was awarded 3 medals as well as the Legion of Honor, ‘Titre de Reconnaissance de La Nation’, which is the national medal in France. These awards are very precious to me because I had endangered my life serving in the Legion.

Later you acquired higher education specialising in International Business Developement, Administration and Management ’. What did you achieve after you had graduated and how did you decide to establish your own company?

- I was 24 when I left army and began thinking of creating my future. I was already quite mature, with a strong personality, fluent in seven languages and with military rank. Combining my personal qualities and aspirations I chose the field of international business and studied further in France and the United Kingdom.

My profession now provides me with opportunities to realize my dreams of achieving results, travelling the world, being financially independent and most importantly to have sufficient strength to be helpful to my country.

I’ve worked in different internationally recognised organizations so that when the time came to create my own company, I was ready.  In 2010 I established Davtian International Limited (DIL) in the UK, dealing with international business development, with a branch in South Africa and a connected framework of 18 countries around the world. There are many international companies that we collaborate with, such as Philips, and we provide approval to implement projects as well as professional advice for strategic development in new markets.

Currently I’m also involved in implementing educational programs as I’ve been invited to lecture in different countries to transfer my knowledge and experience to younger generations and those who want to succeed professionally and reach their goals.

You’ve noted that everyone can fulfil their dreams, can you expand?

Yes, and it’s not a fairy tale, but the result of a well formed plan. It’s necessary to achieve a high level of self-understanding and self-realization, to show prudence, great love and devotion to what you do, and to set a goal so that steps towards achieving it should be precisely and comprehensively analysed.

This approach guarantees success not only in business but also in public administration and life. While drawing up plans people often attach great importance more to the technical aspect of its implementation, rather than to strategy, which is a mistake. First and foremost, it’s necessary to draw up a strategic plan which should be based on clearly identified personal capabilities. Obviously it’s difficult to be correctly oriented without specialist assistance, but if you have strength and willingness to persevere on a long and difficult path of exploration such as I did, it’s possible to achieve any objective. It’s also worth noting that people fall into two categories: employees and employers. Employee types, regardless of where and who they work for, do it with devotion and their involvement is limited to that. But employer types are capable of thinking big and turning the fairy tale into a reality that exceeds expectations.

What projects did you carry out in Armenia over the past few years?

In the last few years I’ve been invited to Armenia to give lectures and to conduct masterclasses on ‘Human Motivation’ in business and broader contexts. I’m also involved in developing educational projects and it’s a great pleasure to communicate with young Armenian people, to see the sparkle in their eyes and have them bombard me with questions and that motivates me to continue working with them and to be useful to those building Armenia’s future. It’s a great honour for me to awaken youthful patriotic pride and to develop high levels of self-awareness, which is extremely important in achieving their goals.

I’m also collaborating with the ‘Women’s Development Resource Centre Foundation’ in Goris, whose aim is to create new job opportunities and income generating possibilities for women in the region. There are handicraft clubs at the centre, where skills and proficiency courses are regularly arranged for club members, as well as experience exchange meetings and sales exhibitions. My contribution of my knowledge and experience in the development of a Public Organization has been to provide business consultations on how to achieve financial independence and implement projects and to harness women’s potential and turn it into gainful employment. I’ve had meetings with club members, given lectures to raise self-awareness of rights and identify economically viable opportunities.

I’ve also provided support for the foundation’s ‘Wool Carpet’ workshop and the Goris Crochet Program in order to ensure their participation in the 2018 ‘My Armenia’ cultural festival in the USA held by the Smithson Foundation. As a result 24 women have worked for 4 months to create crochet animals, woollen garments, carpets and homeware which were exhibited at the sales exhibition in the US. I’m also supporting a new program ‘EU for the Shirak region: New workplaces due to wool production.’

During the educational projects framework, a two day qualification course was held on February 15-16th 2018 on the subject of ‘Developing Entrepreneurial Thinking’ as a collaboration between the ‘Union of School Centres’ (USC) and DIL with participating high school teachers and pupils from all Armenian regions.

Ruzanna Muradyan, the CEO of USC and a member of the National Assembly of Armenia, delivered the keynote speech and cooperation between us was formalised. At their request I’m now developing an extended course on entrepreneurship complying with international criteria which will be implemented within member schools of the USC. I’ve submitted a proposal to the Ministry of Education and Science of the Republic of Armenia and am eagerly awaiting their reply as I believe that developing motivation, study and life skills in the new generation will enable them to achieve their goals.

I also conducted a masterclass on ‘Management Proficiency’ at Yerevan State University at the Managerial Psychology Department of the Psychology faculty resulting in lively and productive discussions and debates.

You clearly appreciate high levels of self-awareness and I know that you’ve made an important discovery that you are proud of, would you tell us more?

- Last year I had genetic screening in an international laboratory where one of the professors is researching Armenian genetics and the test results were stunning and informative. He stated that I'm descended from the Bagratunyats Royal Dynasty and that I have many relatives in different countries all over the world. I was elated by the news which has helped me to understand myself and my ambitions and desires better and also explains my irresistible tie to Armenia and created another level of self-awareness.

Which are the current shortcomings in educational programs in the RA, in your opinion?

- I must emphasize that educational programs must be developed by professional and experienced specialists who are proficient in this field. But I believe that education shouldn’t be limited within the Republic of Armenia and high school pupils and university students should have an opportunity to study and live abroad thereby expanding their perspectives and enriching their lives and their country. It’s my great desire to establish a branch of my company in Armenia and to train and employ young Armenians, enabling them to interact and to work with our international partners. This will also promote tourism as our business partners will be interested in visiting and trading further with Armenia.

DIL is currently developing a resource to generate statistics based on client service quality assessments by using various tools such as online surveys. We use this in South Africa to provide objective results which every company needs to succeed and I’d like to implement that in Armenia too.

- As far as I know you also have other programs connected to Armenia.

- My greatest desire is to establish a subsidiary company in Armenia and to employ Armenian youth. After trainings they will be able to interact and work with our international clients and partners. It will allow them to gain an international work level, enhance their abilities and ambitions. All it will contribute developing our homeland. The project will most probably promote the tourism as well, as Armenia will be exposed to professional and cultural interactions with the rest of the world. We are an international business development company. One of our current projects in Africa is customer satisfaction survey. We develop it in South Africa for now. I think to outsource the support services to Armenia.

 

Mr Davtian, you’ve always been heavily involved in sport, particularly swimming. Would you tell me more about experience?

- Sport has always been an essential and important part of my life as it helps to relieve stress, to rejuvenate energy levels and to achieve physical and mental balance. 

It’s important to point out that the majority of successful businessmen are sportsmen, since sport strengthens spirit and resolve and teaches you to set goals and to achieve them independently.

When I came back to Armenia after 11 years away, I visited my Sports School first, which is a special place for me. The school had a new principal who I thought wouldn’t recognize me, but to my amazement he said my first name and last name as he knew me from photographs of the leading team members of the school. I was really touched and asked to be shown round the school which was unfortunately not currently in good condition. This made me very sad but I am determined to assist them in any way I can.

I’d like to implement a project similar to many international initiatives promoting ‘Healthy mind, Healthy body’ with tournaments held in cities and villages where different age groups can participate and improve their physical and sports skills.

Additionally, I want to organise an annual triathlon in my native village Solak, which includes running, swimming and cycling. Our village has a Testament Day, on which the local youth go to Mayravanq with a race to reach the church first. So I’d like to organize a magnificent sports event prior to Testament day in which all age groups of sport enthusiasts can participate and be part of a healthy and strong lifestyle.

Do your initiatives and willingness to develop projects have a connection with the revolution taken place in Armenia?

- It certainly does as my heart and soul has always been connected to Armenia and I will continue to strive to do something good for my homeland, my nation, and particularly for Armenian youth. Witnessing the wave of nationwide awakening and rising self-awareness, I was so excited and I cannot even fully express my feelings and emotions in words. It was a victory for youth and the future of Armenia. If a nation’s youth are oppressed then there is no hope but they overcame despair, developed freedom of thought and aspirations and were not afraid to fight for their future. I’ve been in Armenia from the beginning of May and was participating in the nationwide movement’s victory and my elation expanded when my friend Andreas Ghukasyan, an amazing person and a great Armenian, was released. All the above events have given me hope that Armenia will flourish and I have renewed motivation to implement further projects for ingoing national development.

What do you consider as the key to Nikol Pashinyan’s victory and how would do you rate the government’s strategy?

- I think there was a deep seated discontent in people that was accumulated over years and this explosion just needed a spark to catch on fire. That spark was ignited by Nikol Pashinyan who has excelled due to his strong will, typical of a person moving towards his goal with great confidence and patriotic fervour. People therefore believed in him and followed him. The government didn’t anticipate this turn of events and were not ready for it so Serzh Sargsyan’s resignation, which was a clever decision for him, was unexpected.

I’m not a political scientist but I believe strongly that if the events were moving in a different direction, i.e. if the government had used violence, then the international community, including the Diaspora which has a specific role in each country, would rise up to counter that.

Mr Davtian, you’ve mentioned that you’ve been able to accomplish your dreams, but do you have any more still to achieve?

- When I saw a plane flying overhead in the sky as a child, I dreamed of flying one day and travelling from one country to another. I also dreamed of being in Paris and this was also my mother’s great dream. I was 19 when I first visited Paris and many other countries after that. Having travelled all over the world I realized how important it is to have dreams and how powerful our thoughts are as well as the ongoing struggle towards future victories. Once when I was talking to my brother on the phone, he asked me how I was, and I said I was tired of moving from one country to another and of travelling so much by plane. He laughed and reminded me a story of our childhood where I told him about my dreams, the exact ones of what I am living now. It reminded me of how much I had experienced. As the man I am today, I enjoy giving, helping others and awakening hope and faith in them. With regard to my dreams that I have yet to realize, one of them is to help develop a powerful and vibrant Armenia, and the other is a wish to have a son.

Will you tell me about your family and your daughter Liza? Have you managed to create the Armenian spirit in her?

- I have a small but happy family, keeping Armenian spirit and traditions alive. My wife Lena is Armenian, from Gyumri, and she is also very patriotic and accompanied me here during the revolution. She is a stylist working in an innovative salon run by a prestigious South African stylist and we’re a harmonious and loving couple and it makes me so happy to see her love for my daughter, Liza. Liza is French from her mother’s side, but looks just like me and I ensured that she speaks Armenian and embraces her roots. She visits us for extended trips and we have happy and memorable times together. I wish to have many more children and I hope God will give us such happiness.

And finally, what expectations do you have for a new Armenia?

- I have great hope that we will finally witness the creation of a prosperous and powerful new Armenia that will benefit each and every Armenian. I want to meet Nikol Pashinyan and hear his plans for the development of my beloved country and to express my willingness to support him and be of service to my motherland.

This is the beginning of an exciting era and I am convinced that the future of Armenia will exceed our expectations.

 

 

Interviewed by Susanna Tamazyan.

Translator Heghine Harutyunyan.



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