50 Global Armenians: Levon Esibov

Mediamax continues its "50 Global Armenians” project. Today we introduce you to Levon Esibov, our second hero, who lives in Seattle and works in Microsoft Corporation.

Levon Esibov
Levon Esibov

Photo: From Levon Esibov personal archive

Mediamax continues its “50 Global Armenians” project. Today we introduce you to Levon Esibov, our second hero, who lives in Seattle and works in Microsoft Corporation.

The general partner of the project is the Yerevan Brandy Factory, which “ArArAt” trademark  is positioned a global Armenian brand.

Levon Esibov (1969) was born and grew up in Baku. In 1992, he graduated from Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology. In 1998, he took his PHD in the U.S. University of Rhode Island in physics and computer technologies. He lives in Redmond – a suburb of Seattle – where Microsoft Corporation headquarters is located. He currently works in the company as Principal Group Program Manager – Levon is specialized in ''Cloud Technologies''. Levon married Lana Barkhudaryan in Moscow in 1990. They have two children.

Before going to study to U.S., Levon Esibov managed to set up his own small business in Moscow. In November 1989, he established ''TRUD'' engineering and industrial center which was specialized in tourism and operated up to August 1992. Levon left for the U.S. in 1993.

Getting the opportunity to go to the West, I applied for the Graduate School of the University of Rhode Island. We were refugees from Baku and an half of our family found themselves in Yerevan (my mother Nelli Zakharyan and grandmother Arev Zakaryan) and another half - in Moscow (my sister Lilya Esibova and aunts - Yelena and Tereza Esibovas). We queued up for the American Embassy in Moscow to leave for the States as emigrants. And I also happened to get the opportunity to fly to America but as a student.

America that Levon saw was not at all the one he expected.

I had rather a naive notion of America and I was taken aback by what I saw. We only saw America in ''Vremya'' TV program where they showed only poor quarters or New York skyscrapers. Maybe the greatest shock to me was to see that the most part of America is rather ''rural'' and the urbanized system which we see in New York is not typical to the most part of the country. When I arrived in the university located in a relatively small town it turned out that if you don't have a car you have to stay at home. However, it was not very hard to adapt to the new culture as Americans are mostly friendly to newcomers and they were very nice to me and my family.

Levon's son Alexander is 21 years old and the daughter Nicole-Arev - 8 . He says that many people are surprised at the big discrepancy of age. In fact, the answer is quite simple - emigration is a hard thing not only from the cultural but financial standpoint.

Photo: From Levon Esibov personal archive

I came here as a student with a wife and 3-year-old child. We lived on a scholarship which hardly covered food and lodging. My son studies at the Department of Bioengineering of the University of Washington and simultaneously works in the Research Center at the Seattle Children's Hospital – he studies genetic diseases.

Levon Esibov has lived in America for already 19 years and says that he is in full harmony – both with himself and surrounding world.

When we came to America, my son was 3 years old and he is like a typical American now. My daughter was born here. Children speak several languages but unfortunately they don't know Armenian. It's difficult for me to speak Armenian as well. Now we think over setting up an Armenian school at a church which has recently opened.

Armenian Apostolic Church of Holy Resurrection was built in Seattle only 3 months back.

When I moved from Rhode Island to Seattle in 1998, I started searching whether there are Armenians and Armenian church here. Armenians who emigrated often start seeking a church first – not as a religious but also a cultural center. It turned out that there was an Armenian church in Seattle. But the church didn't have its own building here – the Episcopal Church of Seattle gave us the opportunity to hold services in their building. We didn't even have a ''permanent'' priest: he flied from California each month specially to hold the service. A permanent priest, F. Eghia Isayan, who helped unite the community even more, was appointed in 2002. And I was ordained a deacon in 2003.

Photo: From Levon Esibov personal archive

The very first Armenian migrants in Seattle had a dream to build their own ''real'' Armenian church. Of course, it was very hard and expensive but gradually our church members raised the necessary money and bought the land in late 1990-s.

In January 2012, there was a grand event in the life of the Armenian community of Seattle – the construction of the new church which had lasted 1.5 years was over. For many Seattle-based Armenians including Levon the foundation of the church was the fruit of their labor of many years. It was then, in January 2012, that Archbishop Hovnan Derderyan awarded Levon Hye Spirit Award medal for his commitment to Armenian church and his contribution to construction and strengthening of Armenian church of Seattle.

Photo: From Levon Esibov personal archive

Archbishop Hovnan Derderyan came from California to consecrate the church. Catholicos of All-Armenians Garegin the Second is going to come to Seattle for the first time in the history. We expect him to visit in January 2013.

Levon has worked in Microsoft for 14 years – since 1998.

I have never thought of working in Microsoft. When I lived in Rhode Island – between Boston and New York – I had several job offers. My brother-in-law worked in Microsoft (I got acquainted with him in the Moscow Institute and married two sisters). He suggested me coming to an interview and on my way back to Rhode Island I knew for sure that if I get an offer to work there I am going to accept it. I was amazed by Microsoft staff - they put soul into their jobs. Just a couple of days later, I was accepted to work in Microsoft.

Generally, people working in IT sector change their jobs rather frequently – they move from one company to another or decide to start up their own business. Levon Esibov is a ''square peg in a round hole'' in this regard – he has been working in Microsoft for many years.

In this respect, Microsoft is a unique place. Here you can cardinally change the work direction without leaving the company. Over these 14 years, I have changed the departments for several times. First I worked in Windows Division (Windows 2000 DNS Server and Client, Windows 2000 Server Active Directory Replication, Domain Controller Locator). Then I was promoted to a Senior Program Manager in Directory Services Department and then worked in Windows Security and after that – in Cloud Solutions (SQL Azure). Over the past 6 months I head the Forefront Online Protection for Exchange team. Microsoft's fascination is in the fact that one can make his whole career here without getting pinned down to a single project or a technology.

Levon has never lived in Armenia and I wonder how he perceives and identifies Armenia.

Armenia for me is much more than the territory where many Armenians live. It's a place on the earth to which I have a special link though I have never lived there. When a man grows up, the feeling of home remains with him. I had such a feeling toward Baku till we were driven out of there. There is a joke in America: ''Home is where you hang your hat''. We have lived in Seattle for almost 14 years. Thank God, everything is ok here but we don't feel Motherland here. I think Armenia is the place closest to my Motherland.

Ara Tadevosyan


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