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Wilfried Vanhonacker, Dean of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO

  1. What is special about the idea behind SKOLKOVO?                                                                      



There are a number of reasons why SKOLKOVO was created, and why so in  Russia. The founders behind the project recognized that there was a real need to modernize education and that the educational system in Russia was not preparing the needed talent. It is widely considered that if Russia’s goal is to develop as a modern economy, it needs to diversify its industrial base, to go beyond natural resources. In order to achieve that, the SKOLKOVO founders concluded that what was needed was to stimulate innovation and entrepreneurship in Russia, and for these capabilities to be implemented through a unique education model.

From a psychological point of view, since the 90’s an inherent distrust is known to exist among Russians and this educational project was also surmised as a bridge through which Russian people enhance communication and develop trust amongst themselves and the international community. On a more global scale, there was a bold school of thought that management education had to be changed, and not only in Russia, but across the globe. And Russia, with its vast ambitions and resources, would have an opportunity to lead that change.


  1. How does your full-time MBA program differ from MBA programs in other schools?


It was only in our third year of existence that we started the first class of our full-time MBA, and this was because we wanted to do something unique. In our mission we claim that we’ll develop entrepreneurial leaders for fast-moving economies; therefore our clear focus is to nurture individuals who have a clear leadership potential, are willing to take risks and have an entrepreneurial flair, and who have the ability and drive to take challenges head-on by treating them as opportunities. Additional to these requirements, one of our unique qualities as a business school is that during the admission we actively look for very different backgrounds. We maximize as many variables as possible in our selection, providing us with the perfect environment to simulate challenging fast moving environments and in which innovation and creativity are stimulated.

The structure of the program is also unique: we combine lectures and exercises with real project work at corporations in China, India, the US and Russia. In terms of core pedagogical philosophy we are advocators of experiential learning and project based learning. We have changed the traditional model of bringing students and reality to the classroom, to taking students into reality to gain real, hands-on experience.



  1. What can foreign students gain during the program?


The program offered by SKOLKOVO is not for everybody. MBA Students wanting the traditional corporate career, such as in investment banking or consulting, are advised that our program is probably not the best for these particular goals. However, if an individual wants to make a difference, is not afraid to take on the challenge in a difficult environment, I think we’re a very good program. We really teach the students how to manage projects, how to take risks and manage responsibilities. Students will walk away with key project management skills, exposure and experience in emerging markets, access to expert networks in emerging markets, and will have gained custom-designed leadership mentoring and development.


  1. Let’s talk about the first MBA class and their results. Did you meet your expectations?


Our first MBA class boasted 37 graduates in December 2010. One third of them were international, including students from India, Canada, and the US. We had set out our goal that upon graduation one third of the students would start their own company. After graduation more than half of the students started their own companies. It’s much higher than our goal and significantly higher than in any business school in the world. We currently have six of these projects that were started, in our incubator on campus. We continue to support our students even after their graduation. I know of at least 3 of the companies that have raised significant venture capital and private equity funds.


  1. Lets dream a little bit. How do you see the school in the next 5-10 years?Skolkovo_coverMBABrochure'11


The school has already drawn a lot of attention, not only in Russia, but also globally. Three years down the line, we find ourselves in a very different environment from when our first MBA class began. Russia is evolving and future wealth will be coming more and more from emerging economies. Soon we’re going to have an engineering and science campus across the street, and major global and domestic corporations are going to set up their laboratories there. I have no question in my mind that we’ll be one of the leading business schools in 10 years, particularly in innovative pedagogy. We will be known as the ‘game changer’, the catalyst in changing managemeeducation. We will be known as a benchmark for business schools of the future, and the place to go to for a network of entrepreneurial leaders in major emerging markets. As Steve Jobs once said, “Why be a sailor if you can be a pirat"


  1. What about your students, where will they be in 10-years time? 


They can do anything, trust me, our students really can! During our projects we send them to different countries, they work in different environments. They work for the government, because the government plays a critical role in any country, they learn to understand public-private partnerships, and through practice they study the mentality and structure of stakeholders. It sometimes does happen, that after all the experience and exposure, those who thought that they were entrepreneurs have concluded “not exactly for me”, while others, who had thought, “I’m a corporate animal” discovered that they actually have something entrepreneurial driving them. So our school not only gives skills and knowledge, it also gives you a chance to test yourself and understand, who you really are. And that is the philosophy of the whole project…




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Why did you choose SKOLKOVO?


The second MBA class began their studies in August: 33 students from 12 countries joined together in the world of SKOLKOVO! Read today in this issue of Go Inside SKOLKOVO why they chose the Russian business school and what expectations they have of the programme.


Vyacheslav Golubev


It wasn’t that long ago that I had doubts about the whole idea of MBA education... I didn’t see the point of studying cases that were not applicable in Russian reality!


But 18 months ago, having seen information about SKOLKOVO, I understood that it was for me and about me. In the first place, I want to live in Russia, to build and develop business in this country and for this country.


In SKOLKOVO I found the reflection of my thoughts. I understood that I would be able to learn a lot, work on projects in different countries and, of course, learn from the founding partners, the people who created the school.


And I cannot complain. When so many interesting and talented people with good ideas and potential are gathered together in one place to fulfil themselves – this is practically priceless.


If one speaks about expectations from studying at SKOLKOVO, then above all I would note a change in worldview. The exchange of experience and ideas with interesting people, the lectures of the best international teachers, work on big projects, meetings with noteworthy and high-achieving people, an atmosphere of creativity and work – all of this cannot help but affect one’s worldview.


Here you begin to believe that you can change the world. And we can do it!



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