среда, 6 апреля 2011 г.

An interview with SKOLKOVO graduate Kane Cuenant

Here we present you the interview with SKOLKOVO graduate Kane Cuenant prepared by MBAconsult.ru
Their interview with Yuri Kovalev is available here

Kane Cuenant lives and works in Canada and yet for his MBA degree he has chosen a Russian business school. Now Kane is happy to share his impressions on SKOLKOVO studies.

Kane Cuenant
Education: BPh, Queen’s University, and MBA, Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO
Work experience: self-employed
Age: 28
Residence: Vancouver, Canada

MBA Consult: What brought you to the decision of acquiring the MBA degree?
Kane: Prevoius to my SKOLKOVO studies I already had some decent experience of work at both developed and developing markets. I needed an MBA degree in order to organize my knowledge in a more systematic way so that to implement it effectively in practice and become a real professional. This is what actually brought me to the decision of business education necessity.

MBA Consult: How did you choose the school? You didn’t even look at your home country business schools as well as at any prestigious American ones… How did it happen that you have chosen the Russian school?
Kane: That’s a good question. I am asked the same quite often but it isn’t still an easy thing to answer it. I had good chances to enter a few top MBA programmes and I have chosen the most practice-oriented one at that time (ant it is still the same now). If you look at the programmes in the developing countries such as India and China you would see that they are nothing but a copy of the American, European or Canadian ones. I was not going to receive an American or European MBA in a developing country, you know. I was looking for an original programme based on the genuine experience of working at developing markets.

MBA Consult: Weren’t you concerned with the fact that SKOLKOVO is a very young school – it had its first enrollment in 2009? Wasn’t it scary?
Kane: Probably such thoughts came to my mind in the beginning. But when you join a project you usually pay the highest attention to the people you’d be working with and to the resources you’d have an opportunity to use. In these terms SKOLKOVO is an excellent option. Lots of funds are invested in the school and many leading Russian businessmen and government officials of the highest level support this project. I had an honor to have Ruben Vardanian as my personal mentor (Ruben Vardanian is the President of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO and the Chairman of Board of Directors of “Troika Dialog” company – author’s note.) Each student had his personal mentor – one of the most successful businessmen in Russia or India, for example. I’m absolutely positive about this project having the most prosperous future.

MBA Consult: Do you remember your first impressions from coming to Russia for the first time?
Kane: When I arrived our school was still under construction and at first we have been accommodated in a luxury hotel. I don’t think this can be the way to get any comprehensive and true-to-life impression of the country. But what I can say with no doubt is that Russia is some absolutely different world compared to all the other countries I had been to. During the first six monthes I gained the really unique experience and opened so many new things for myself! Then I went to Kaliningrad to work on a project in the public and social sphere there – this was exciting! And what I appreciated most here is that everybody is so much eager to give you all possible opportunities for work, studying and personal growth – even the school administrative stuff, to say nothing of the faculty memebers and founding partners.

MBA Consult: What was the most impressive thing about the SKOLKOVO campus?
Kane: It’s enormous! Me and my classmates, we even had such kind of game – looking for some hidden and unexplored rooms here; that was our amusement just before our graduation. This campus is unique. I think it would get larger in time as new premises would be built – as far as I know the construction period hasn’t yet finished. And the Skolkovo innovation city is also developing rapidly - many companies are already planning to move there.

MBA Consult: What could you tell us about the study process itself?
Kane: The first four months are devoted to the lectures and that’s a pretty intense and tough time: so much work you have to do that there is hardly any place for anything but the studying. The theory is passed here much faster than in the other schools, and afterwards the practice begins – and that’s much more effective than reading books or building up theories. I think of this approach as the best one for developing markets. We didn’t sit at desks the whole day long but were doing real business in real circumstances – thus receiving the experience at first hand.

MBA Consult: What was the most defficult in studying for you personally?
Kane: As in any other business school it was really hard to cope with the day schedule, to take control of time, to set the priorities. As for me, the hardest days were thouse when I had to be an expert in class and to lead it.We studied in small groups, as there were only 37 of us. So it was often that someone of us took the part of being an expert in some sphere – finance, marketing, etc. These days were really tough, you had to work harder than usual, helping your classmates – and it didn’t matter if it was night or day. That’s a very hard but at the same time very interesting thing about the studying.

MBA Consult: What did you like most of all?
Kane: The main advantage is that so many resources are at your disposal. And it’s great that the groups are pretty small – everybody knows what you are involved with at this or that time; and that makes the studying process more flexible and personalized. The teachers know you and know your needs as well as the necessary factors that should be fulfilled for those needs. Often you don’t even have to propose or ask for something – they guess and give advice by themselves. And once you have received the recommendations there is much opportunities to build up useful relations. The campus is actually not only the center of the school but also of the whole innovation city. It was visited by groups of scientists from the Silicon Valley and heads of world’s leading corporations, Microsoft and Venture Capital among them. And once even the Russian President Dmitry Medvedev came here with the California ex-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. So here you are surrounded by the world’s renowned people and corporations. Just imagine: all those people find time to visit the campus where there are only 37 students – less than the number of the high guests. Such aquaintances are a great boost for the future businessmen.

MBA Consult: How did you feel like with the other students and the school staff? Is it comfortable for a foreigner to live and study in the school?
Kane: I can reassure you that all students’ needs on life and studying will be satisfied here. I felt very comfortable. The students are the main point of care and attention here; we always work together. The SKOLKOVO atmosphere makes it easy and comfortable to work and study here.

MBA Consult: The SKOLKOVO students live at campus. Did you enjoy the housing premises?
Kane: The housing is very good here. I would even say that it is much better than you can usually see in the American business schools. They have staff responsible for cleaning the rooms and concierge. Of course that is not the main condition for comfort but still that’s very nice. You wouldn’t see such kind of things in the Western business schools. Living at the campus is pretty much similar to living in a good hotel – everything is really decent.

MBA Consult: All in all, what expectations did you have at the beginning of your studies and did they fulfill?
Kane: You know, it’s hard to have any specofoc expectations when you are entering a programme like this. I just knew that I would be treated well and will receive grest experience, and in this sense it went perfectly well, I am sure. Many of my classmated have got even much more than they expected. I am talking about the constant communication with the CEOs, company owners and state officials. And definitely the colossal experience gained in the leading corporations of Russia, China, India and USA also adds great opportunities for future.

MBA Consult: What do you do now?
Kane: Together with my Russian classmate Arthur Baturskywe have launched a new project. Having spent the latest 6 months on that we have just finished the initial development of the idea and started the new business. It is connected with the “green housing”: we are planning to use new technologies and innovative products here in Russia in order to make the hosing more affordable and of the higher quality.

MBA Consult: Some concluding words about your Russian experience, please…
Kane: I’m sure I don’t have to tell you that everyting here is different from what it seems to be. One can gain either enourmous success or nothing, and it seemed to me that it is the weather that changes it all (laughing). This place is unique for work and career building. Despite all the hard times and problems I have met many people that should be admired for their work and the fact that they became successful.

MBA Consult: What would be your advice to those who plan to study here?
Kane: SKOLKOVO is a great school. My advice is to try it first-hand. Everything you are going to do during the studying process will bare fruits; you will receive great experience and networking opportunities. You shouldn’t be afraid of the fact that the school is too young still. The founders are really serious about the project; it has great resources and is supplied with everything needed – so that the world’s leading business schools could be jealous. So just go forward! And Good luck!

The interview is prepared by Arthur Arutyunyan, the MBA Consult reporter.

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