Dmitry Letov: Ignorance of Difficulties Gives Rise to Heroes


RD Group has completed one of its most important projects – the construction of UWC Dilijan College in Armenia. Dmitry Letov, Project Manager for the construction project, spoke about the awards presented by the country’s president as well as the difficulties and triumphs experienced during the project.

– At the opening ceremony of UWC Dilijan College on October 11 the President of Armenia Serzh Sargsyan presented you with the Medal of Appreciation. What does this award mean to you?

– This medal was earned by the entire team. The project truly was a very difficult one, and each of us gave 100%. It is particularly satisfying when our work is recognized at such a high level. It sets a new benchmark, and we are ready for it!

– You have said on multiple occasions that the construction of the school in Dilijan was a challenge for you and the entire team: the difficult weather and hydrogeological conditions and also the fact that it is in a seismic zone. What was most difficult in this project? What are you most proud of?

– The most difficult thing was to create in a new place and in a short timeframe a working team out of a group of very different and unacquainted people. I think that we succeeded in doing so 100%, although we did have to say goodbye to a few employees.

Here I would like to thank my colleagues from the central office of RD Group for their support, in particular, Oleg Zhukov, Alexander Margulis and Sergei Zubkov. Their professionalism and support were very helpful and guided the work in a most effective way. A special thanks to Gagik Vladimirovich Adibekyan for his wise advice and colossal experience.

– Thanks to the construction of the school in Armenia more than 1000 job were created, and 99% of the employees were residents of the country. What is your secret for creating an effective team from scratch?

– There is no secret. We simply brought together the best people and understood that we were facing a task that is unique in its scale and significance. This wasn’t a shopping center, business park or residential building but rather a systemically important project which is intended to facilitate the strategic development of the country. And those are not just some big words. If we stop to think for a minute and ponder the meaning of this project, then we realize how profound it is and how much it will do for Armenia in 20-30 years’ time. That is a completely different level of thinking and vision.

– UWC Dilijan College is one of the flagship projects of RD Group, and you were the one entrusted to lead it. In your opinion, what kind of experience should a top manager have in order to bring to life such complex and large-scale projects?

– There is a good saying: ignorance of difficulties gives rise to heroes. This is the largest project in Armenia of the last 20 years, and no one in the team had experience in the implementation of such projects considering the volume of work, timeframe and expectations for quality.

We should not have any illusions. The construction of UWC Dilijan College is not so different from other projects: many times I heard pessimistic forecasts from experienced colleagues, many things went wrong and there were times when it seemed that everything was working against us and the project. There were complaints about the timeframe and the budget, we had an enormous responsibility before the client, subcontractors failed to do their work on time, and there was the dilemma: should we give them another chance or lose more time looking for other contractors which might not be any better, and so on.

I think that the most important thing is to continue believing in your success. There is the concept of congruency. If you do not sincerely believe in your own success, then you will not be able to convince anyone else. People can feel it under their skin if you do not believe, regardless of how convincingly you speak. The project manager must always believe in the success of the project or he must step aside and let someone else lead.

I remember in the midst one of those difficult periods when everything was going wrong. I was riding in the car, browsing the internet and happened upon a video called “A Parable from Ruben Vardanyan”. I won’t say what it is about but I would recommend everyone to watch it, and I have repeatedly seen that the wisdom there works. And in general, this project is a good cause, so we also had help from above all along the way.

– For nearly two years you have worked on the construction of UWC Dilijan College. Now the project is completed. What’s next? Do you already have some plans for the future?

– My next project is a vacation, and then we’ll see what’s next.