'Studying a language and learning such a versatile culture to the core has been very unique'
Lucas Roorda, MIB alumnus 2017, shares with us his amazing experience of working&traveling in Russia
First of all, thanks for inviting me to this interview. I’m glad to share my experiences. Prior to the MIB-program I studied for one semester at Plekhanov University as an exchange student. The exchange program was part of my bachelor in Amsterdam and I participated because I wanted to live in a different culture for a while. After the exchange program I understood there was so much left to discover in Russia.. its history, politics, language, culture and of course the beautiful places.
This was a good reason to come back for my Master’s degree and in 2 years I have developed myself in many ways. The unique blend of studying on a high level, studying a language and learning such a versatile culture to the core has been very unique.
Why, out of all the master’s programs offered by the leading Russian universities, you decided to pursue Master of International Business at the HSE? To what extent your expectations about the program have been met?
Good question. The reasons for me to come back to Moscow were not just about discovering Russia. After the program I wanted to fulfill some kind of role in business where I could use my Russian and knowledge of the country, besides my skills in business and finance. After reading about many programs, the MIB-program was my favorite. Here I could develop a variety of skills in an international sphere where students consisted of a variety of nationalities. This also fit most to my future goals, so I was happy to be accepted to the program.
Looking back on the program, I can say that my expectations were exceeded. This was mostly because it turned out that I could really shape my own skill set through the elective courses and academic paper and thesis we had to write. Here I could really focus on topics that I wanted to work in after the program, so I specialized myself in blockchain technology related to finance.
Also, HSE provided me for 2 years with great Russian language lessons. I started on the lower-intermediate level, but through stepping up each semester I ended in the advanced courses.
In your opinion, what are the most important and useful skills you have acquired while being an MIB student?
One of the most useful skills I developed during the program was to learn how to study. Through the broad scope of the program I came in touch with many fields of business I had never even thought about, and although I won’t be a specialist in many of these fields it is super useful to understand key concepts of these parts of business. The study provides you with a lot of materials, and it is up to yourself to study these in depth. The fact that each course is taught by specialists from the working field gives you a unique insight from high-level positions.
Besides, the program brought me in touch with many Russians who are now good friends, and without the program I’m sure it would have been more difficult to get acquainted with locals. This helped me to understand cultural differences and develop my Russian.
Speaking about your career path, we know that you have some significant achievements and opportunities. Would you, please, share with us your story.
Haha, news travels fast. While studying I was looking for opportunities to work and I received some very good offers from different countries, but not exactly something that suited my skills (Russian, finance and blockchain). Therefore, I decided to go for a job in London in finance. I could on the side keep my other skills up-to-date and always move away from the 9-to-5 job if I would want to. But, it took the company in London a long time to deliver me the contract. So during the time I was waiting for the contract, some guys from a startup in Amsterdam approached me (Kryha.io), as they heard I specialized in blockchain technology and studied in an international sphere. On the day I met with the guys in Amsterdam I also received the contract from London, so it was a weird period of making important decisions about the future. After writing down all the pro’s and con’s of both jobs on a piece of paper, I decided that the choice for Amsterdam would be better. Here I would be challenged more and there was a chance of moving back to Moscow at a certain point, as Moscow is one of the biggest hubs in the world for blockchain technology.
In Amsterdam we worked with the innovation labs of big companies as KLM, Shell and FedEx, but also with the government, Dutch defence and municipality of Amsterdam. Here we would build up knowledge, elaborate on use-cases and eventually, our programmers would program the designs we made.
After several months of working in Amsterdam I noticed that my skills in finance could not really be expressed in the job as we focussed more on use-cases in supply chain management and government. This was also the moment that I met a friend of our investor. A Russian mathematician from MSU who lived in the Netherlands for 10 years and worked there as a hedge-fund manager. We got acquainted and our visions on finance and blockchain were similar (E.g. ‘We don’t need centralised agents in financial markets’). We met few times more and decided to work together. The startup from Amsterdam also supported this, because they would have a bridge to Moscow. So there I am, back in Moscow.
What are your plans for the future?
In terms of work I hope to stay here for the next 2 years at minimum. We are developing financial derivatives that are initiated, traded and settled on blockchain technology and this brings many challenges. Besides, we have many plans for developing the company in several directions.
It’s hard to say if Moscow is the city where I’d like to stay forever, but the city is lively and I enjoy it here for now. Furthermore I want to develop my Russian, and of course find a Russian wife!
What would you say to the current and future students of the MIB program?
First of all, enjoy your time at the MIB program! Many of my classmates can acknowledge that it was a very special time.Besides enjoying the time, try to have a plan for the future. It will help you to focus your efforts in the right directions for the time after the program. And of course, follow your heart!