I hire people brighter than me and I get out of their way. - Lee Iacocca

References and testimonials

Rafael Pashayev

Rafael Pashayev

Client as Country Manager, Nestle, Azerbaijan, and General Manager, Red Bull, Azerbaijan


I have known Ilham Hajiyev for over 15 years. As a client, in my previous roles of Country Manager, Nestle, and GM, Red Bull, I worked with him on several recruitment projects including the regional – very successful – one. Also at certain point, in 2019, I had a chance to cooperate with T&I as a candidate evaluating new career opportunities: he was supportive and insightful at that period of my career. So I’ve seen him acting from both sides of the recruitment table.

As a client, I was very happy with his performance. Ilham’s professional attitude and reputation stands aside in the market. He is very good at execution of highly confidential and sensitive searches. He is committed, focused, reliable and valuable. He showed highest degree of integrity all these years. He tries to maximize the value for his client. Being modest, kind and open, he manages nevertheless to keep professional distance with his network.

Ilham does not look at a new search project as just ‘another one from many’, even if he knows the relevant talent pool very well. He does invest time in talking as much as possible with a client to understand better the search context, and needs, challenges, expectations and aspirations of a hiring manager. He is not afraid of asking questions. During a search process he takes into consideration many soft issues. He pays attention to motivational and corporate fit of a candidate, corporate culture and atmosphere, potential pitfalls, etc. If necessary, Ilham is ready to go extra mile to get the best value. He is also respectful and fair with candidates, trying to get a ‘win-win’ solution, giving valuable advices. Also it worth mentioning that Ilham is always keen to learn more: he is never satisfied with ‘status-quo’ knowledge regardless of his experience and age. For a generalist, his track record in FMCG sector, and its understanding is pretty strong. I know he has successfully executed also the cross-border FMCG projects in other markets of the region. In our organization, at Nestle, his placement of Country Manager for Georgia lasted for more than five years, and was a turn-around for our operations in that market. It was very challenging position to fill then due to certain reasons. My boss, late Jean-Michel Puyserver, our Regional Director at Nestle, was extremely happy with that placement.

To conclude, I have been impressed with Ilham’s professionalism, reputation and wealth of contacts in the FMCG sector of the region. I can say, without hesitation, that he has exceeded my expectations in all the situations that we have come across together in the past 15 years. I wish him good luck and look forward to our cooperation in future.