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Mikhail Romanov, '12

CFO, South Stream Project, Gazprom

Serbia

Nationality: Russian

"The MBA residency in Russia offered me a new perspective. I viewed my own country not as a citizen, but from an outsider's point of view. I saw how Russian economics, politics, and business compare on a global scale."

A Career Trajectory

In the Russian military, I was a professional officer and a specialist in aviation engineering. I retired from the military in 1992 to get my master's in finance with two degrees and two specialties. I have worked in finance since. Before starting the Global Executive MBA program, I was Deputy CEO and CFO at MGSN Investment Holding, a large real estate investment company in Moscow. After graduating, I became CEO of the division, MGSN Regionstroy. It is a great company, and I enjoyed working there - I had a great team and good relationships with my colleagues and shareholders.

After completing the Global Executive MBA program, I was interested in pursuing more international opportunities. In August 2013 I transitioned to the energy company, Gazprom, where I serve as CFO of the South Stream Project, and I work in the Serbian office with a whole new team. South Stream is Gazprom's first global project, and is a proposed gas pipeline that will transport Russian natural gas to Bulgaria and as far as Austria, Greece, and Italy. I am excited about working in a new team, on a new project for a larger, multinational company. It will also be challenging and will enable me to exercise the knowledge and skills that I gained from my MBA.

Learning in a New Language

English is not my native language, so communication was a challenge, especially during the first term of the MBA program. While some classmates needed only 5 - 10 minutes to read each case, I needed an hour. Although my reading speed was slower, my finance background and the support from my classmates and professors were extremely helpful. I'm more attuned to math, calculations and analysis than languages, but my English improved greatly, and it will be useful for me in the future. Despite the language barriers, I felt that I was still able to contribute to class discussions and team work.

Leadership Management

I never had any leadership training before the Global Executive program, so some of the courses were a new experience for me. I learned that each country and each company has its own management style. With my experience in the military and management in Russia, I am used to tough and authoritative management. But in the past 50 years, the global perspective of leadership has changed greatly, and is continuing to change. I learned that modern management focuses on serving as a leader and acting as a role model. This approach is not common in Russia, so it will be a challenge for me to change my habits, but it is a practice I want to implement, beginning with myself.

A Shared Perspective

The MBA residency in Russia offered me a new perspective. I viewed my own country not as a citizen, but from an outsider's point of view. I saw how Russian economics, politics, and business compare on a global scale. It was great that my classmates were interested in Russia and in my opinions of the processes and methodologies used in Russian business. Also, during two days of excursions in the country, I had the opportunity to make various arrangements for my classmates, like booking tours and picking restaurants. I enjoyed sharing my homeland with my classmates.