What is your educational background?
I have a Bachelors degree in economics from the Russian State Agricultural University. I also did a Masters degree and a PhD there too. It was during my PhD that I first went to study in Holland as part of an exchange programme for 3 months at Wageningen University. In 2009 I decided to return to studying after working in banking in Moscow for a few years and in 2010 I graduated from the Rotterdam School of Management with an MBA.
Did your time as an exchange student in Holland influence your decision to do an MBA there?
Yes, absolutely. I knew that the quality of life and style of living there is very attractive and when I was looking into the different MBA programmes available I saw that the level of the management schools in Holland was very good. The courses are all in English which is of course a major factor and the cost of the course was more realistic for me than in some other countries.
Why did you decide to study for an MBA? What did you hope it would give you?
It was the right timing for me during my career. When I was doing my PhD I was already working at the same time heading a project which involved collaboration between my university, Russian businesses and a research centre. It was the kind of job which combined the business and education spheres and was my opportunity to choose which area I wanted to follow in my career. In the end I chose the business route and began working at Rusagro Bank. I had a very intensive job at that time, often my day started at 7-8am and I didn’t finish until midnight - really! I thought; having a year out to do an MBA could be a good break from that lifestyle and I could return with new experiences and knowledge.
Do you think your MBA and international education has helped you in your career?
Certainly it gave me much more confidence in my knowledge and drive to move forward in my professional life. To work well with international companies it really helps to have an international background. And of course I got to improve my English a lot and meet a lot of new interesting people who have also offered help during my professional career.
Did you think about working in Holland after you graduated? Why did you return to Russia?
Yes, I did try to find a job in Holland quite early on, but I was not successful. I had one offer from a Dutch company, but it was to work in Moscow for their subsidiary. During the final stages I also found out that all their top corporate management places were already filled. I decided to take on an invitation from my old bosses at Rusagro Bank to work with them at their partner Sberbank in Moscow.
Do you have any advice for Russian students trying to get jobs in Holland?
Firstly - if you want to stay in the Netherlands you really need to learn Dutch! Certainly in many companies in the Netherlands the internal language is English, but at the same time Dutch is a huge asset for your CV, without Dutch you will struggle to get job offers. My second advice is to start looking for jobs early - during the middle of the final year of your studies (i.e at least 6 months before graduation). You will need some practice of the application and interview process as it’s a different style than in Russia.
Where are you working now?
In July 2012 I stared working for a subsidiary of the Dutch bank Rabobank in Moscow. It’s the same kind of work I was doing at Sberbank, based in the agro business, analysing credit risks, but it has a few different specifics. I was motivated to move because I wanted to improve my English language skills and was thinking about the possibilities for a future career in Europe and opportunities for promotion. This bank is much smaller in scale than Sberbank, but when you take into account it is part of Rabobank which has a triple-A rating, it is a good offer.
You’re employed in Moscow by a subsidiary of a Dutch company - does it feel like you are working for an international company?
On the one hand yes. You can feel that all the methods, the organisational style, the documents - it’s not Russian, and the meetings, conference calls and so on are in English. On the other hand all of our team in Moscow are Russians so things are a bit of mixture. I would say it is like; Russian culture with international rules. I think my decision to move was the right one even though my salary is less than before.
Is there anything you miss about Holland?
I can say for sure my two kids miss Holland a lot! We sent our kids to a Dutch school while I was studying in Holland. Of course in the very beginning for them it was very challenging, but after four months our daughter could already speak fluent Dutch. It was a great surprise - she even started writing and reading in Dutch before she did in Russian! Our kids also think the classes and activities were more fun there, less strict I guess. Dutch people are very flexible and tolerant, I miss that too.
Where do you see yourself in five or ten year’s time?
To be honest I would like to launch my own business one day. My dream business would be connected with the Netherlands, some kind of consulting company providing services for Dutch companies in Russian markets. I could invest my knowledge and skills which I have gained from being in the business, as well as my knowledge of Holland. My wife is an accountant and tax advisor by profession so I think it is something we could do well together.