Russian-born Max Khismatulin is studying a full-time MBA at Cranfield University School of Management in the UK.
One of his earlier jobs involved medieval history teaching, and he spent time mentoring teenage boys from diverse backgrounds in the US.
When he moved back to Russia he joined a start-up construction firm, before moving to KrovTrade, another construction business. His department bloomed into a separate company with more than 100 employees. KrovTrade construction projects included building a helipad on the Vysotsky skyscraper in Ekaterinburg, the highest building in Russia outside Moscow.
When he finishes Cranfield’s MBA this year, he hopes to move into a senior position within the construction sector.
Where did your career take you between your undergraduate degree and your MBA?
I was born in a small city called Nizhny Tagil, Russia, and after my undergrad in history I joined the International Camp Counsellor Program to work as a teacher in the Southbridge Day Camp, near Boston in the US.
My role involved mentoring and counselling teenage boys from diverse backgrounds – including the Bronx in New York – designed to help them address and overcome behavioural and moral issues.
Upon my return to Russia, I joined a start-up construction firm focused on office and private housing design and refurbishment. This was a big change from my previous life as medieval history teacher.
Two years later I was heading the construction department in a well-known regional firm called KrovTrade. I spent seven successful years in numerous complicated yet fascinating construction projects, such as helipad installation on skyscraper Visotsky in Ekaterinburg, and general contractor work on the water refining block at Surgut-2 Power Station in the north of Russia under extreme weather conditions (-35 degrees).
Under my leadership, the department grew from twelve young professionals to a large standalone company with over 100 employees.
Why did you decide to begin an MBA program?
Prior to the MBA all my business experience had been obtained on the job. Nine years of project management and business development taught me lots of practical things, but I always felt I lacked a structured understanding of the theories and concepts that govern business.
After much thought, I decided that joining an MBA program was the best option to bridge this gap.
You have experience working in the US, UK and in Russia. What made the UK stand out as a business school location?
Three criteria influenced my choice of business school: Firstly, I wanted to spend a year in country where English is the first language, which also provided the opportunity for travel, making new friends and managing projects with local companies.
Secondly, I did not want to spend more than one year on an MBA program – my choice was narrowed to European business schools because most American programs are two years long.
Finally, the British education system is well recognized around the world.
What made Cranfield stand out from other business schools?
The Cranfield MBA is one of the oldest and most prestigious programs in the UK. It has produced a great number of prominent and influential leaders in various industries. Its high standards guarantee excellent levels of teaching and networking.
We have access to professors that are easily approachable and eager to share their knowledge with students.
What do you hope to do once you have completed your MBA?
The MBA provides a unique opportunity to explore various sectors and locations, and it opens up different possibilities to us.
I’m looking for new challenges in construction-related projects. I am attracted to new, beautiful buildings, and transforming infrastructure brings me so much satisfaction.
I am sure the new management and leadership skills which I developed at Cranfield will help me get my dream job in construction – at a more senior level.
What surprised you about studying at Cranfield?
The Cranfield MBA program has a well-balanced cohort in terms of nationalities and professional backgrounds, and is deliberately small in size.
This year we had around 70 very bright individuals whom I have come to know very well. In comparison with schools that have 200-300 students in a cohort, we have a very tight-knit and friendly environment. I never expected to make so many friends, who have now become my new family.