вторник, 29 марта 2011 г.

An interview with Yuri Kovalev, SKOLKOVO MBA graduate

Today we are happy to present you the translation of the interview with Yuri Kovalev, SKOLKOVO MBA graduate, published at www.mbaconsult.ru

Yuri Kovalev
Education: Moscow State University, Faculty of Computational Mathematics and Cybernetics; Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, MBA.
Experience: own business – Internet sites and systems
Age: 28

MBA Consult: What brought you to the decision of acquiring an MBA degree?
Yuri: This decision was defined by many reasons. The diploma itself never was a goal. I just realized some time ago that the knowledge and skills I had were not enough to gain real success in business. Also, negative economic situation surely was one of the determing factors. I have my own business and when it was seriously hit the global crisis, I must say, I was lost. To keep moving forward in that situation one needed to come up with something new, to find more points of reference, to know and understand the world’s experience and international business. Thus I decided to enter SKOLKOVO business school in order to acquire confidence in my future and develop my business. It may sound smugly but that’s true.

MBA Consult: You were among the first graduates of the school. Why did you choose the Russian school that just started its operations then?
Yuri: I always planned to work in Russia, and still do – this was the main reason to choose SKOLKOVO. Of course I had some concerns regarding the fact that the project was just started up, but at the same time I saw that it involved serious resources – as it is supported not only by the Russian government headed by President Medvedev but also by the most influental Russian businessmen.
First enrollments’ students knew that many of the operations were not set up yet. In our group we had a special committee that helped us bring all our complaints and proposals together with all the factual validations to the relevant stakeholders. We discussed the pluses and minuses of the education process and tried to find appropriate solutions. Actually this process is still going on and we, the first graduates, do take part in similar discussions with the current students. It turns out to be a very interactive cooperation.

MBA Consult: And what about you preparation work to enter the school. How was it going on?
Yuri: I would say, it was a rather disordered process, though very much in line with my character type. I had to pass the logic test, the English language test, make a video-interview and a video-presentation of my business idea. Plus I was to meet the school founders and stakeholders. English, maths and logic were not that hard for me but the videos were much harder – I was to present two videos, an autobiography and a presentation of my own business idea. As for the interviews with the school founders, I thought of those as of a great chance to talk to really smart and successful people.

MBA Consult: Western business schools’ graduates say that they hardly found time for sleep during the first 3-4 months of studies. Was it the same with you?
Yuri: Absolutly! We all lived in a frenetic pace. We were studying theory and solving numerous cases. You could meet half of the group in the corridors at 3 a.m. – everybody kept doing homework, calling at one another, consulting – despite the fact that the next day classes started at 9 a.m. That was fun, you know! And I’m sure that such a typical and frequent situation brought all of us together.

MBA Consult: Fun? But wasn’t you thinking of quitting all of that and make your life easier?
Yuri: Of course, I was. I think it would be strange if I didn’t; hesitation is a pretty natural thing. Yet it was much more good things about the studies than bad ones. So many great memories! For instance, when we worked on the task of conveyer belt optimization we made this conveyer belt out of A4 paper sheets laying them out right on the floor. We kept running with those sheets, arguing about the practicality of some ideas. And the fact that all of that was going on in the night time, made this experience so cool!

MBA Consult: Tell us more about the studying process, please.
Yuri: The studying process can be devided into 6 key steps. First, we studied theory for four months. Then the projects start: two months for public projects (work with the government or state-related organizations); two months for corporate projects in BRIC countries (in large Indian or Chinese corporations); than back to Russia for two months and corporate projects in Moscow and Russian regions; than two months in USA working on start-up projects; and finally the last two months you spend on developing and setting up your own start-up project. Around 80% of the faculty members are foreigners. The whole studying process is in English.

MBA Consult: Which course you especially liked?
Yuri: Definitely the Negotiations course. We played the game in which we all got some information and had to make the deal. Nobody knew which information the others possessed, and this made the whole process really interesting. After such games we discussed each and every case, talked about different possible solutions in order to understand what was right to do and what was wrong. This course was one of the most interesting for me, as it touched upon the psychological aspects more than the techniques ones – and that was great.

MBA Consult: What is the percentage of foreign and Russian students in the class?
Yuri: In my class we had approximately 75% students from Russia and CIS, and the rest were foreigners – mostly from Finland, USA, Germany, Brazil and Australia.

MBA Consult: SKOLKOVO business school has a spectacular campus. What surprised you most when you came there for the first time?
Yuri: I was impressed by the immensity of the building as well as by the new approach to supporting the studying process. They made a school that can be compared with MSU by its scale but fully devoted only to business education – that’s impressive. You would be astonished by the innovations at campus. For example, the walls in the classrooms are painted with the special paint that enables you to write on them with a marker and then to erase it with a sponge. They don’t have the blackboards (as we mean it) at all. The lecturers have touch screen monitors at their tables which project at the walls. It’s easy and quick to show the presentations to students. There are lots of such minor things that may seem unimportant at the first sight but altogether they give you this feeling of innovation.

MBA Consult: Does the school campus have its own housing block?
Yuri: Sure it has. You know, I have an appartment in Moscow, but still I preferred to live at campus – it is much more convenient. All the students can live in the hotel specially built for them. The rooms are comfortable enough with everything you need and of good quality. I had an opportunity to compare our housing facilities with those in Harvard, and I can say without overdrawing that ours is much better. In Harvard you would have a tiny room (1-1.5 * 2 m. size) with a bed, a table, a chair and a wardrobe. It can’t fit more than one person. Whereas we had a full-sized separate room for each student with a bathroom, a couch for resting and a wonderful view. My windows faced the Moscow region countryside – it was beautiful, though surely not like in the Balchug hotel where we started.

MBA Consult: Does the school have a career center? How would you estimate its effectiveness?
Yuri: As for me, I didn’t use the school’s Career Service but I know from my classmates that a great work was held with recruiting firms and corporations in terms of the students’ job placements – and in the individual way for every student. Most of the leading Russian and multinational corporations as well as the founding partners’ companies can be found on the recruiters’ list. Almost all of my classmates are now either working on their start-ups or in the corporate world. As far as I know, out of 40 students only 2 now are still searching for job.

MBA Consult: What are you plans for the future?
Yuri: I am now thinking of switching the spheres of my business. Some of my ideas are already set up in reality. I received many opportunities at SKOLKOVO for this. If you have a worthwhile idea, you have all the chances to meet those people who can help you bring it into life. Now I am launching several projects in different spheres. Some of them will probably die, but some will definitely succeed. Space sphere for example: I am inclined to persuade the Defence decision makers to implement new management technologies into the space related projects.

MBA Consult: What is your advice to those who are now choosing the school for their MBA?
Yuri: You should by all means decide what are your needs and goals. If you plan to build your career up abroad, than SKOLKOVO education wouldn’t be enough – you will have to receive some additional education abroad, as our school is very young and even despite great education and PR is still not that well-known in the world. On the other hand, if you are planning to build your career up here in Russia – than SKOLKOVO becomes an ideal option. Everything here serves that goal. I think there is not a single business school in the world which can have such powerful resources and unique opportunities for working in Russia – again, even if it sounds smugly.

The interview was prepared by Arthur Antonyan, the MBA Consult journalist.

1 комментарий:

  1. NICE BLOG!!! Education is the process of bringing desirable change into the behavior of human beings. It can also be defined as the “Process of imparting or acquiring knowledge or habits through instruction or study”. Thanks for sharing a nice information.
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