Chief Operating Officer
What do you do professionally?
I am Chief Operating Officer at Open Joint Stock Company "Gloria Jeans" (GJ) in the Russian Federation. We are the largest fast fashion retailer in Russia and Ukraine and operate stores in all 11 times zones of these two countries, soon to expand into other parts of the world.
What is the most enjoyable part of your job?
I get to work with people from all the neighboring countries to Russia. Fashion is sexy, complicated and fickle. This makes offering great customer experiences, offering amazing products, social/mobile technology, supply chain and stores a daily venture. We have grown 77.6% last five year CAGR, so there is lot of cleanup work to do. But, it's all so thrilling.The beauty of retail is that we are very close to the community. All six of our stores in Chelyabinsk were damaged in last week's asteroid crash, but we were able to get involved and help the community. In total, we distributed 65MM rur ($2.1MM+ USD) worth of warm garments to people who lost much.
What is the biggest challenge you face?
Culture and language in this part of the world are the biggest challenges I face. We are still coming out of the "government pretended to pay us, and we pretended to work" mindset. Incentives mean different things in this culture, and the old bag of tricks from the west does not necessarily work in building a high-performance organization here. And, how I wish I spoke Russian!
What sorts of interesting places has your position taken you? Do you have a favorite?
My current position has brought me to Rostov on Don. I never dreamed of coming here, much less coming to Russia! But, it is a fascinating place, a city of more than a million people, with some very decadent places that you generally do not see in the emerging world. Also, Rostov is an important place in terms of the coalition victory in World War II. People here are very proud of the sacrifice their heroes made for us all. My wife, Amber, says walking through the streets of Rostov is like walking through Vogue magazine, with all the super-model beauties around. Many Miss Russia winners in the last decade have come from Rostov apparently. It's hard to pick a favorite, maybe Durham!
What is the best professional advice you've received?
Success is not all it's cracked up to be. There are so many examples of this, in famous celebrities in sports like golf and cycling, etc. So, it's always good to ask "why" you are doing a project or assignment. And there has to be meaning, more than just money, success, fame or material things.
Aside from your current role, what is your dream job?
I really love what I am doing right now. It's a wild ride to say the least. Just recently, I got accepted to do an online Doctorate in Theology at Duke. I can hardly wait to start that and be back at Duke, at least virtually.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love time with my family. One of the nine golf courses in Russia happens to be in Rostov, and I take full advantage of that when it is not 43 below zero! We work with the Salvation Army here in Rostov. There are over 500 medical students from Africa, India and Indonesia that are getting trained here. It's an incredible opportunity to be involved in training the future leaders of the global south through the work Salvos are doing among them.
What is the most important thing you learned during your time at Fuqua?
There are many ways to solve a problem, and that an optimum solution gets derived by listening to people from diverse backgrounds, experiences and career families. No matter how good you are at something, you can always learn from others.
Who was your favorite professor?
It is hard to pick one; Preyas Desai, Peter Wilson, Vish Vishwanathan and John Coleman have definitely left a memorable mark for one reason or another! Seriously, I love all my professors now.
What is your favorite Fuqua memory?
Hard to pick between Prague and Hong Kong! It was amazing to land in different parts of the world and see familiar faces. That feeling of camaraderie was so strong. Craig Swill was there when some team members dropped out of the class in the middle of the Home Depot case study. Although, we don't see each as often, he is still part of my life journey support system.
What does Team Fuqua mean to you?
When you put Victor Wilson, Lanny Schiller, myself and other A-types in the same team, what do you expect? It was difficult "team," but an extremely sharpening and intense but rewarding experience. I got my best grades out of that team experience. And, to this day and due to that experience, I pick team chemistry differently (intense over friendly), and enjoy rewards every time.