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.


First steps: at Guomao.
Beijing greeted us with a warm spring breeze. After March snowfalls in Moscow the weather temperature in the Chinese capital was pleasantly easing both mind and body. Our group of Skolkovites, tired of the flight but still hungry for cultural experience, was safely delivered to the hotel by a local night taxi. And after some short sleep, with our eyes half-closed and thus more similar to the local cultural landscape, we were staring at the heart of the business Beijing – the Guomao square (as we learned later it’s name is translated as The World Trade Centre).


I don’t want to offend either the World Trade Centre in Moscow or the Moscow-City, but the downtown of Beijing doesn’t let you doubt on the question, where the big guys of the world economy agree on future joint ventures and trade contracts. Broad streets, skyscrapers, white collars in a hurry to their 25th and 42nd floors – and all that steeped with the strong smog, quite sensible for the lungs, – this is the way Beijing appeared to us the first day we met.


Communism or Communitivism? Guys, we are a team!


The first project rule is: Never speak about the project. The second project rule is: Never speak about the project. I can only say that in the project we can’t speak about (as you may know, death penalty is still in use in China, and I don’t feel like testing if it is applied to the disclosure of insider information) I was a team leader. This great honor and huge responsibility has fallen on me as a heap of happiness in this project, probably the most difficult of all we are about to work on. This is not a compliant, rather a narrative call to tell you how our team was meeting the challenges of the emerging markets.

Legends may be told about the Chinese’ artifice and undefeatable trade vein (even though they live in a communist society); they seem to take the talent to sell snow to the Eskimos, or in our case – nonentity to the Europeans, with mother’s milk; and all this in a cloudy light of linguistic barrier. Chinese online did help me feel some language confidence. (Really, Anton, without you it would be very sad.) But still my “ni hao” and “sesi” couldn’t hide a Yankee in me, and the locals tried to send me home again and again. And given that we had little hope for English in everyday life and negotiations as well, we had to spend a lot of time examining the information we gathered for the project.

Please don’t think we could have got embarrassed by such a small thing. To the strong communist ideology of the capitalist society we have opposed the best managerial practices developed in the conditions of global economy. And in spite of being cut from facebook and twitter our team managed to create an efficient community for generating the project solutions.

It’s time now to name the heroes. Mark Zotkin and Anssi Jokinen were in charge of the orderliness of our strategic thought; Vyacheslav Golubev and Eliza Fisherman – for marketing decisions (which was important as the project was mostly about marketing issues). The work was driven with the help of Beijing office of Ernst&Young and Mr. Sam Park, SKOLKOVO Director of the Chinese corporate module. Their help was truly invaluable. According to the client’s feedback our group has managed to structurally analyze the challenges and span a bridge between the operational tasks and company’s strategic development goals and corporate values.

We do hope that the project will be developed further! In spite of a very strong desire to return home which we all began to feel at the equator of the project, Beijing does have some captivation calling you back. Let it be for a short time; let it be for a new project; but this city has that drive and energy of a metropolis I love so much in Moscow.

That’s it. Now it’s time to get prepared for the next trip.

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