вторник, 30 августа 2011 г.

The truth about SKOLKOVO MBA corporate module

Maria Fomina, SKOLKOVO MBA student, goes on with her impressions of working on corporate projects during the programme. Today she tells about her project within the Russian corporate module.

Anti-myth of the “corporative”: the truth about SKOLKOVO MBA corporate module
Author: Maria Fomina


The Project is done
One more landmark is achieved. The third practical MBA module has reached its completion with the reserve copies of our project papers and feedback forms sent to the MBA office. It seems that this post-equatorial stage of navigating in the corporate ocean and its Russian coasts turned out to be one of the most important for an MBA candidate.

Really, what can be more relevant for our career record than real experience of consulting the top-list Russian corporations and personal communication with their key stakeholders together with the project results’ presentation in front of their Boards? Indeed, that is an extremely valuable reputational asset both for future entrepreneurs and corporate managers. And my team was lucky twice! We were to work for one of the largest European banks, and this meant at least two things: 1) we had to master the “Banky” business (it sounds like the title of the famous book “Funky Business” – I hope you can forgive me for such a quibble); 2) we had a real-life business task, though a hard one to approach, – to manage changes in key principles of banking business model in Russia.


Long Live the Project!
To say that we were dazed by such a task would say nothing. But after sharing some encouraging words with each other (like, “it’s not the worst thing we had to deal with”) and having put a pack of prints about banking (that weighed the laptop bag for a couple of kilos) we went to challenge Stefan Dertnig, our corporate module director, with a million of questions. Having huge experience in strategic consulting and playing key role in the Moscow office of The Boston Consulting Group, Stefan told us in calm and firm voice that there is no task that cannot be solved with the BCG Matrix supported by the consultant’s inquiring mind.

Thus, having cleared our mind of doubts we spent a week working on the initial proposal for the client. It seems that we have studied every process that we associated with the banking business. Compared to that amount of work, I think even Moses’s wandering in the desert would seem to us as a short walk. We had to use critical reasoning and concentrate on the key points. With the help of the BCG manager and Stefan’s functional advice we managed to refocus our project scope to an executable list of jobs with clear KPIs. And everything turned out into a very transparent scheme: four key blocks for examining, four team members, several fundamental researches in the Russian regions, and a lot of numbers.

As we presented our view over the project work to the Bank’s Board of Directors, it was very nice to see that the Board members were really interested in an open and constructive dialogue. Since then we worked not in a “client-consultant” system but rather in an efficient dialogue of partners who have a mutual task. I think that this approach has helped us a lot to achieve the goal. And it was important, as one of our tasks was upgrading the efficiency of business processes at each level of the bank’s organizational structure – including the large (in terms of banking business) regions with established and conventional business practice.


A province-consulting
In order to study the features of regional banking we went to a so-called Volga Hub – to such cities as Samara, Saransk, and Nizhny Novgorod. In each city we met with the bank local management, conducted interviews with employees of different departments and gathered various business data. All that turned out to be not the easiest task, but still it was fun. Visiting “white collars” have never been in favor in the regions, so the first challenge for us was to build trust-based relations with the local offices. And here our talents of interviewing were more than useful.

Not less useful were the case studies and deep dives in Russian corporate management (by prof. Elizabeth Sadova) and in Change management (by prof. Murray Steele). Actually in order to cope with the tasks of these intense courses and follow professors’ requirements we had to come back to Moscow by turns. Fortunately, it didn’t affect our grades – we all got the highest marks for both courses.

As a result of our regional trips we had lots of data which became a structured report just in couple of weeks. And here again the whole project team (SKOLKOVO students, project office headed by Stefan and bank employees) worked together as a one to prepare the report for the final presentation in front of the expanded meeting of the Board of Directors.

We did it! And now we felt a breath of smooth ocean breeze against the background of hot Moscow summer: the next landmark on our MBA map is Boston, USA.


In the picture: Dmitry Yusov, Maria Fomina and Igor Korotky – during their trip to Nizhny Novgorod. Levan Nazarov carried informational and analytical support for the group from Moscow – that’s why we have a place for him in this photo too.

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