понедельник, 25 июля 2011 г.

SKOLKOVO MBA Corporate module: "It is not easy to win the trust of Chinese partners"

We continue the series of our MBA students’ stories about their recent module in India and China. There they had all the opportunities to feel the peculiarities of work in emerging markets, develop new skills and learn to speak the same language with people of different cultures.

We are talking to Igor Korotkiy about his experience of a project in China. His team members were Alexander Kosenko, Manuel Ponce, Ekaterina Dolgosheeva, and Arevik Sahakyan.

- Igor, could you please tell us about the project in general? In which sphere did you work?
- We worked in a computer industry, for a large computer manufacturer. We developed a price monitoring system for them, i.e. an automatic system for market price tracking. Actually, we were to develop software but we didn’t have an IT specialist in our team. When we explained that we won’t be able to create a fully automatic system, the client asked us to conduct a market analysis and gather all the data for that industry in various countries. We conducted a large market research and compared our client’s positioning against their competitors in 13 developing countries. We gathered all the relevant information about the company’s positioning, its edges and weak points, studied trends and price readings. It was a desk market study. Basing on that data we built charts, constructed a model and gave some recommendations. Whereas the client needed the system that would do the same analysis automatically. So eventually we engaged an IT person for creating the system, and came up with the result that was needed.

- How was your work estimated?
- The client was really pleased with the result; I would even say that we have exceeded their expectations by giving them the system ready for work. The client assured us that our system will be employed for pricing strategy development.

- Great! And what about your own personal growth? Did you get any new knowledge while working on the project?
- The most valuable experience I got from the environment itself which was absolutely new and unusual. When communicating with the client we felt all the faces of cultural differences; the most vivid contrast was seen especially against our experience of working on public projects in Russia. The main feature of working with Chinese partners is that their trust level is zero – in the beginning. In due time though they start trusting you. For example, they even didn’t give us all the needed information about the company; but step by step, when they saw the results of our work and understood that we were really helping them and not spying – they gave us more and more data and materials.

пятница, 22 июля 2011 г.

Is it worth to buy a star employee by luring them away from your competitor? - an article by Helen Edwards

Here is the translation of the article by Helen Edwards, SKOLKOVO Library Project Manager, published on Slon.ru. The original text in Russian is available here.

Is it worth to buy a star employee by luring them away from your competitor? 
Though showing outstanding performance in their company, the genius employee may fade if shifting to the competitor.

Should you buy a talented employee by luring them away from your competitor? The employee themselves in most cases will be sure that their talent belongs to them and they can bring it to any company. Why not? Their success is fully their achievement, being a result of their knowledge and persistence. Well, some research show the contrary.

First of all, people’s success depends not only on their state of mind, but also on the way others – colleagues and bosses – treat it. This fact is proved by the experiment by Stanford scientists: the students of a computer class were divided in two groups. In the beginning of the class one group was told that the only thing that matters is the personal nature talents (in other words, they pictured a boss who doesn’t believe in the employees’ potential: “You are worthless anyway”). Another group was told that the only thing that matters for the goal achievement is practice. As a result, facing difficulties the first group students gave up much quicker than the second group ones: they thought they hadn’t enough nature talents for overcoming those difficulties.

среда, 13 июля 2011 г.

Advice on business literature from Helen Edwards

A new set of books selected by SKOLKOVO Library project manager Helen Edwards. We wish you an exciting reading experience!

1. Being the boss: the 3 imperatives for becoming a great leader
Linda A. Hill and Kent Lineback
Harvard Business Review Press, 2011.
xvi, 284 pages

What makes a great boss and how can you become one? After the initial discomfort of taking on a management role many managers become complacent and settle for "managing" in the worst sense - getting by. This book presents a model of managing self, network and team. The book follows the progress of a new manager, each chapter presenting him with a new challenge and discussing how to cope with it. There are self assessment questions aimed at developing self reflection, key to progressing on the management journey. The goal of this journey is to close the "opportunity gap"; the difference between current performance and the best the group is capable of doing.

2. Onward: how Starbucks fought for its life without losing its soul
Howard Schultz with Joanne Gordon
Wiley, 2011
xii, 336 pages

After many years of unprecedented success, in 2007 Starbucks profits stopped increasing. This book is the personal story of Howard Schulz who had stepped aside as CEO almost eight years previously but who then returned to deal with the crisis. He found that Starbucks had neglected its core business. Some innovations such as the introduction of breakfast sandwiches - with the all too often smell of burnt cheese rather than delicious coffee - detracted from the experience. Reviewing every aspect of Starbucks' operations, taking into account new customer expectations such as ethical treatment of suppliers and facing up to the competition, Schultz succeeded in returning Starbucks to sustainable profitable growth.

понедельник, 11 июля 2011 г.

Interpreter for scientists: How to persuade an oligarch to believe in an innovative technology

Here is the translation of the article about our graduate Artemy Subbotin's project, published in the latest July issue of Forbes Russia. The original PDF-version in Russian is available here.

“It’s too hard for investors and clients to speak to the scientists directly: answering a simple question, scientists give you too much physics. My role is interpreting for them.” Artemiy Subbotin looks more like a doctoral student of an engineering school than a business man. Still the metal quality control machine he is promoting will already be erected at the Severstal plant in Cherepovets this fall.

Artemiy graduated from MATI (Russian State Technological University) and was a typical IT-guy. He got an opportunity to work not only bits and bytes but with people when he was employed by MDM Bank as a manager for internal audit of business processes. In four years Subbotin became Head of IT audit department and understood that he wants to influence business processes himself. Having no experience he went to SKOLKOVO for an MBA programme. From the Boston internship, where they were told a lot about technological start ups, Artemiy returned with a precise goal – to engage in commercialization of scientific inventions. The industry for work wasn’t a question; in a business school every student has a mentor, and Subbotin was lucky to have the Severstal owner, Alexey Mordashev – so he focused his mind on the challenges for metallurgy. Among his acquaintances there were some people already investing in the technology for nondestructive metal quality control.

среда, 6 июля 2011 г.

SKOLKOVO MBA corporate module in China and India: first impressions

In late May SKOLKOVO MBA students returned from their two-month module in India and China where they worked on corporate projects dealing with the local companies’ specific business challenges. Now they are thinking of next projects, this time for Russian corporations, but still eager to share their impressions of this unique experience of practice-based learning.

Today we present the first story – by Maria Fomina, SKOLKOVO MBA student. Acting under the policy of confidentiality we can’t disclose the project’s details, but still the students will share their personal observations and impressions of the BRIC countries and some aspects of local business environment.

So we pass the word to Maria:

Beijing from within: some useful notes, some bookmarks, and some even notches telling about the Skolkovites’ stay in the den of the Asian Tiger.

55 Days of the Economic Miracle
55 – This is the number of days we spent in China, according to the Google Calendar that kept a watching eye on the SKOLKOVO module in Chindia (this is how we blandly named the Eastern BRICs – China and India).

The Beginning: A Ticket to the Silver-Winged Airplane
It is probably the worst bane for a young professional seeking to catch the wind of luck in global economy – to love travelling more than anything else in the world and at the same time to be deathly afraid of flying. Yes, it is only 7 hours of flying to Beijing; yes, together with leadership expert Prof. Pierre Casse and classmates who can sugar the pill; but flying is still scary!

At the registration desk each of us had to leave around 10 kilo of extra luggage. Among non-essentials I left the library’s “Culture Code” and Paul Harrison’s volume on marketing – now feeling myself skinned in the face of project work

I’m panicking; and falling asleep.

пятница, 1 июля 2011 г.

Lawrence Wright: Russian Science is Rich with Great Ideas but It Really Lacks Good Managers

Lawrence Wright, SKOLKOVO Startup Project Director, speaking about how to build venture startups on the Soviet legacy, why Russian scientists need no billions, and how to find a right entrepreneur for each inventor. The original text in Russian is available here

Is venture enterprise in Russia just a faded copy of the Western innovation mechanisms or is it quite a sustainable industry? Is it worth investing your life into venture startups here or is it better to try to force your way to the West and make money there?

Lawrence Wright is an American who is working on commercialization of innovation projects in Russian since 90s. This spring he was appointed as Startup Project Director of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO. Slon.ru decided to ask Mr. Wright about his view of challenges and opportunities for start uppers in Russia. He told us, why we need to invest not billions but hundreds thousands of dollars into innovative projects, how we can make business incubators efficient, and why our own innovations cannot outplay copies.

- To start with, I would like to ask you, why have you decided to work in Russia?
- You mean, not in this particular time – in general?
- Yes.
- Well, that’s a long story. I became interested in Russia when studying in the University, and even earlier. At school I had a teacher of Latin who also gave some Russian lessons. That was the time of Reagan presidency, and the President once had a well-known speech about the “Evil Empire”, speaking of USSR. I was curious of how an empire of evil can exist. I thought, so is everybody really evil there? But wait; there are children there, right? I became interested in politics and started learning Russian. I had good results and continued to study the language in the University. In 1987 with a group of students I visited Russia for the first time – we arrived to Leningrad. The group split up: the first part felt love and passion for the country, and the second part – rejection. I was in the first part.

I made good friends here. Then I started my doctoral studies. And after the collapse of the Soviet Union I got a job in a large American corporation dealing with high tech and engineering. I was with that company for eight years.