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13 April 2018

Meet Anna Prokopenia of the Champions Trust

As a pastry chef, Anna Prokopenia believes she can tell a story with a dessert, and share untold mysteries with the creative inventions she whips up in the kitchen.

Now, it is the story of WorldSkills that the 24-year-old Russian wants to share, by continuing her role as a returning member of the WorldSkills Champions Trust.

Anna first carved her name out in her home country in May 2014, competing in the Pâtisserie and Confectionary Skill in the National Competition, before taking to the international arena at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015.

"I remember I was dedicated to giving as good a performance as I could,” she recalled. "It was my chance to prove that I hadn't chosen this profession by chance - that I had an actual talent. And the Competition was a door, which opened for me, and behind this door there were a road, full of difficulties, but which led me to the profession I enjoy today.”

Anna says after embracing her chosen career she has never looked back, saying her craft lights a spark inside. 

"I like the way food, and especially desserts, can change life in a small way. I can tell a little story with a dessert, share a mystery with someone."

"I can even draw a portrait of a person with flavours. In another way, the health of people depends of what they eat. Therefore, I am responsible to how they look and how they feel. 

"Cooking is something between art and science. I enjoy balancing in the middle.”

Originally from a small town in the middle of Russia, Anna studied in St. Petersburg State University of Trade and Economics to become a Pastry Chef. After her WorldSkills experience, Anna decided to continue her education and study Biotechnology at St. Petersburg Polytechnic University. 

When she is not in the kitchen or classroom, Anna dedicates her spare time to help improve the world through the power of skills by spreading the WorldSkills message. 

"I train Competitors for the next Competition in WorldSkills Russia,” she explains. "Sometimes I work on small projects such as making the desert menu in a restaurant, or sometimes making master-classes.”

Going one step further, Anna earlier this year decided to focus on staying engaged with the WorldSkills movement as a returning member of the Champions Trust, having already served a term after WorldSkills São Paulo 2015.

"At the beginning WorldSkills Champions Trust was an opportunity to stay in the movement - to stay in the family of professionals,” she explains. “And staying was a natural choice. I feel that I still have work to do, that I can connect ideas from previous group to enthusiasm of the new group." 

"The first term of WorldSkills Champions Trust amazed me how quickly a group of people could become good friends. I had wonderful experience of knowing a lot of people from other countries, other cultures. I really enjoyed learning accents. I hope that in the next two years I could learn how to present and implement our ideas even more effectively."

Giving back is important, says Anna, as she believes participating in a skill has changed her life.

"Skills made me feel that I can build the world with my own hands,” she said. "I never have a question 'why I do this job?', because I feel that I belong to a community of creators - people who like seeing a difference they make.”

"Vocational skills are perceptible and real. It is not an easy way; it takes a lot, but result is tremendous. Skill is a creation in everyday life - seeing a final product is a huge benefit of skills. 

"I believe that there is an art in every trade. And choosing a trade means people will meet your art in everyday life."