29 March 2016
Meet Anna Prokopenya of the Champions Trust
“Confectionery is the great link between science and art. Now I am a pastry chef and my way is the sweetest way in the world.” Anna Prokopenya, WorldSkills São Paulo 2015 Champion
Originally from a small town in the middle of Russia, Anna’s dedication to her skill has taken her across Russia and around the world in pursuit of sweet excellence. Her journey began when she enrolled as a student in St. Petersburg State University of Trade and Economics to become a Pastry Chef. The pinnacle of her development was WorldSkills São Paulo 2015, as she represented Russia in Pâtisserie and Confectionery.
Although her family doubted at times that her choice was the correct field, combining artistry with science has lit a spark in Anna that can be felt every time she talks about her craft. Anna explains that “my family would have preferred I studied math, chemistry, or music, but I didn’t want my profession to be based on what other people think is prestigious.”
During her first two years of college she excelled in her studies, but others around her felt that she was wasting her time, and her talent. That is until she began her WorldSkills journey at a regional competition, then she earned a gold medal at the Russian national competition and a spot on Team Russia to compete at the 43rd WorldSkills Competition. The most remarkable moment for Anna at WorldSkills São Paulo 2015 was following the last day of the competition when she was congratulated on being a professional. This experience solidified for Anna that following her passion was the key to finding the profession that was perfect for her.
Even after Anna’s dream came true of competing in WorldSkillsSão Paulo 2015, opportunities continued for her to develop her craft when WorldSkills Russia supported Anna to attend a confectionery school in Barcelona, Spain lead by Chef Maria Selyanina. “Everyone dreams about meeting a mentor, whose work inspires and whose professionalism is not questioned,” explains Anna. “Before WorldSkills I would not have dreamed of studying in Barcelona because it was so far away. One week of training there gave me as much knowledge as months of working on my own.”
Now as a representative for Europe on the WorldSkills Champions Trust, Anna is focused on staying engaged with the WorldSkills movement.“WorldSkills not only made my dreams come true it made possible for me to travel, to get international experience and to know the greatest professionals all over the world. I continue to grow - even after the competition!” said Anna. “Now I want to develop projects, that can change people’s lives like WorldSkills changed mine."