Chief Ophthalmic Technician at Mass. Eye and Ear, Shakhsanam Aliyeva, was recently honored through our employee recognition program as employee of the quarter! With her constant attention to detail and unquestioned integrity, she is a leader highly regarded by her co-workers. Shakhsanam grew up in Russia during the era of Syvatoslav Fyodorov, who is commonly referred to as the father of ophthalmic surgery. Inspired by his groundbreaking work, Shakhsanam decided that she wanted to become an ophthalmologist. She completed residency in his clinic in Moscow and while only in her second year of residency at Syvatoslav Fyodorov’s clinic, Shakhsanam was entrusted with managing clinics in three buildings that included inpatient, outpatient and international patients. The residency was followed by combined fellowships in Germany. She participated in major research activities and has been successfully publishing in European and American peer-reviewed journals. Further on, she was offered fellowship at Harvard Medical School and moved to the United States in 2008. Two-and-a-half years ago she assumed her position as Chief Ophthalmic Technician at Mass. Eye and Ear.
Shakhsanam describes her typical work day as far from typical. “No two days are the same. It gets incredibly busy here and I try to set goals for myself to achieve throughout the day, but everyone knows that my door is always open,” she explained. An open door is essential, because Shakhsanam is responsible for supervising, or as she would say, “mentoring,” a group of technicians she calls “the strongest, most cohesive tech team” that she has ever worked with in her long experience. Since being in this role, she has made it a point to provide the kind of leadership that leads to the self-actualization of her employees.
One of her nominators, Ophthalmology Manager Susan Sproviero, describes Shakhsanam’s style as a “magic combination of nurturing and firmness with the techs,” and says that she has “successfully encouraged many on the team to take and pass their certifying exams." The praise continues. “She has put much time and effort into ensuring that techs are paid generously and fairly and in return she has set service and productivity expectations for them. She has [also] initiated Tech Appreciation events to make them feel valued and recognized,” Sue said.
For the future, Shakhsanam explains that her dream is to “home grow” technicians and continue to expand Mass. Eye and Ear’s tech staff. “It’s not only about giving people a job, it’s about helping people to build a career and find themselves,” she explained.
Shakhsanam resides in Watertown, Mass., and spends most of her time away from work taking care of her 4-year-old daughter, Sophie. She happily mentioned that she is enjoying seeing Sophie growing and exploring a different culture than she grew up in and in a more active, self-assured, and curious way than she did. “It is the spice of life that keeps me moving,” she said.
Article written by Thalia Yunen, public affairs intern at Mass. Eye and Ear.