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MBA At ESMT Takes Russian Life Insurance Expert To Silicon Valley!

Dmitry Krasnozhon wants to understand the finer points of European business and America’s Silicon Valley, and apply them in Russia

Dmitry Krasnozhon is a full-time MBA student at the European School of Management and Technology (ESMT) in Berlin, Germany and will graduate this December.

Originally from Russia, the 28-year-old studied business and international relations at the Plekhanov Russian Academy of Economics in Moscow one of the top five schools in Russia.

After graduating in 2006 he worked as a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) in Moscow acting as an adviser to Russian insurance companies. Dmitry then spent three years implementing the start-up of CiV Life Insurance (member of Talanx group AG) which had been chosen as the exclusive life insurance partner of Citibank in Russia. On returning to PwC Dmitry was an associate manager where he remained until he started his MBA.

Before his MBA Dmitry was working for prestigious multinational insurance companies. He says that he has always worked in insurance but the difference is that he was doing consultancy at PwC for insurance companies (working on strategy, operations and model development), but at CiV he worked on the client side, managing people and building up processes between insurers and partner banks.

Dmitry believes both have their benefits but: “if you want to be the best type of consultant you should have some industry experience, or you may end up being too theoretical. It is good to be a consultant seeing the big picture, but also to have hands on experience”.

The decision to do an MBA was a considered one: Dmitry wanted to be exposed to different cultures, close some of the gaps in his education (especially in corporate finance and organisational behaviour) and finally build up a network for the rest of his business life. He looked at all the major European business schools but avoided America as he considers their two-year programs “a luxury, as the opportunity costs are extremely high,” representing too big a break from one’s career path.

ESMT was his first choice. “It’s still somewhat of a start up and so has a special drive and atmosphere. Because there are only 40 students everyone gets personal attention from the faculty and MBA administration.

ESMT is also extremely well connected with the founding companies and so provides major competitive advantages”.

I wondered whether Dmitry had looked into the option of attending business school in Russia but he said the country doesn’t yet have the same level of quality teaching that can be found in Europe. “Skolkovo Moscow School of Management is up and coming but I wanted to expand my horizons by living abroad and meeting other people, getting a better flavour of the European market”.

For Dmitry the highlight of his MBA year was when ESMT’s MBA students were presented with an option for their international field seminar: they could either spend three weeks in China or three weeks in Silicon Valley. Dmitry chose Silicon Valley to spend time visiting start-ups and venture capitalists as “Russia is trying to replicate what Silicon Valley has been doing in the past 40 years and I wanted to see if this success was exportable. 

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The MBA group shot in Silicon Valley

“I am interested in high level processing between government and businesses. I wanted to explore the infrastructure of Silicon Valley”.

Dmitry has written a full account of his field trip to Silicon Valley on our website, you can read it here

The structure of ESMT’s MBA course impressed Dmitry as the program is so diverse. He explained that the first modules set up the agenda and introduce you to the world of management, and then it’s into “hardcore quants and corporate finance, statistics, the stuff you missed at school” followed by “the so called soft subjects such as HR and marketing”.

The field trip is a buffer between these modules and the consulting project that comes next and Dmitry says Silicon Valley was a brilliant time for reflection on the modules that had come before. The pace of the course is such that Dmitry reckons you could never become disillusioned. “At the point when you are sick of quants it just ends and it is straight onto something totally new!”

Dmitry is taking on a consulting project for a premium international automotive company (the name of which he could not disclose!). He says that ESMT did a great job of helping him find a client to consult: they put him in touch with them, found project sponsors and did “everything” to facilitate the introduction.

ESMT then checked to make sure the chemistry in the team was right for everyone. It’s this care and attention to detail that drew Dmitry to the school originally.

For the foreseeable future Dmitry would like to remain in Europe to, “get a good idea of the best practices in management, techniques of business in developed markets and then transfer these skills back to Russia”.

He plans to stick with the insurance market and, depending on what kind of job he can secure, would like to be doing in-house consulting and business processing for engineering companies. His dream company would be Allianz. We wish him good luck!

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