среда, 14 июля 2010 г.

Strategists and Strategy

We're happy to introduce Professor Paul Verdin (SOLVEY BUSINESS AND ENGINEERINGSCHOOL), who has visited The Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO recently.We managed to speak to him on the completion of a regular module of the program “Business leaders” organized by SKOLKOVO for Gazprom Neft.

- How do you like Russia, Moscow, What is your impression of the capital?
- Well, I’ve not seen much more than the airport and the hotel. So I cannot say much about that.
But I can say precisely – Moscow makes an impression of a very busy city with a lot of traffic jams. (laughs)

- You worked in a lot of famous business schools, and now you are at SKOLKOVO. What
can you say about the school, the program, maybe, the students?
- Well, I think it’s very professionally run. I think the students are certainly comparable to what
I would train in other business schools. The only difference perhaps is, of course, that here
almost all of the participants are Russian, whereas in most business schools we have a more
international mix of participants. On the other hand, it’s explicable of course because the
program was developed for a Russian company.

- You are Professor of Strategy? Why did you choose this direction?
- Well, I think it’s the most interesting field that brings together all the other areas. There are no
ready-made answers in this area. I like to be creative. Moreover, you have to be creative in
Strategy to question things. You have to be able to link different fields or different areas of
management, where they all come together. I think I’ve chosen Strategy because I don’t like to
be limited by one technicality or by one discipline.

- And why did you start teaching?
- I’ve been asking myself that question. Sometimes I think I started teaching by default. Because
there was a job I liked, but not enough to be doing it all the time. I’ve done consulting, I’ve
worked in organizations, and I’ve done many projects in big companies. But I’m always looking
to develop new ideas, and I think that’s what I can do when I’m teaching. It forces me to think
originally. I’m not very interested in routine.

- Do you learn anything from your students?
- I certainly learn something all the time from the students: from the questions they ask, from
new knowledge I get from the companies they are in. And in fact another reason why I’d like to
work with companies is that they are very specific, because there you really get to see the
differences, the nuances, they are rich in details. I’d like to be involved in the process, to be
much more case-oriented and customer-oriented than to be discussing various theories.

- Can you give some practical advice and recommend some specific journals or books to
read?
- First of all it’s highly important to stay in touch with what’s happening. I recommend
international financial press. I could not do without the Financial Times or without
CNBC TV, business news. There are a very few books or journals that I can say “Well,
that’s the only one you should read”. But it’s not enough. Try and pick up things from different
areas. Personally I like Fortune magazine which is not very academic. There are very interesting
case stories. I see my role as a teacher to put things into context. So when a student asks me
what book to read, this one or that one, I say I do not know of one book that says it all. I think we
have to help people find what they are looking for. And in these cases I would recommend 2 or 3
or 5 books rather than one.

- Are you planning to visit SKOLKOVO again?
- I’d be happy to come back.

-Thank you for finding time for us! Hope to see you again.
-Thank you!

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