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‘Being Able to Work in a Cross-Cultural Team Has Helped Me Build a Career’

‘Being Able to Work in a Cross-Cultural Team Has Helped Me Build a Career’

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The English-taught Master of International Business (MIB) programme is celebrating its ten-year anniversary. It has developed a tradition of succession: some of its graduates not only work in international companies, but are also employed as instructors on the programme. Three of them talked to the HSE News Service about the features of the programme that they believe are most important.

The MIB programme boasts its own applied scientific community with original methods and a team of practicing professionals who teach on the programme.

The core of the MIB programme comprises tailor-made courses developed by Academic Director Irina Kratko for future business internationalisation professionals: ‘International Business Studies’ and ‘International Business Consulting’. An important advantage of the programme is that it has its own methodological approach to the preparation of master’s theses implemented as part of the Research Seminar.

The programme has attracted some of its best graduates to teaching. They now successfully combine a professional career with their work as instructors, helping to keep the programme updated and providing first-hand feedback from businesses. Nikita Nazarov is an international trade manager at a major import-export Russian bank, Maria Pinson is a brand manager at an international FMCG company, and Anastasia Sadovnikova got her first degree in linguistics, then graduated from MIB, and now helps Russian companies to find foreign partners. Below, they share their impressions of studying on the programme and give some advice to its current and future students.

Nikita Nazarov, 2017 MIB graduate, manager for international trade finance and settlements at a major import-export Russian bank, lecturer of International Business Studies, instructor of an MIB research seminar, academic supervisor of Master’s theses

I embarked on the MIB programme because it is practically oriented and it allows you to combine work and study. I am 100% satisfied with my choice. The programme provides students with a unique mix of practical and fundamental knowledge. Everything I learned there has been very helpful in both my career and in life. I like the programme because it is an opportunity to learn from employees of international companies who find themselves in different situations in their daily work and can share this intimate knowledge with others. It was not very easy to immediately switch to the ‘jargon’ of professionals from a particular field, but it was necessary for further development.

My knowledge of internationalisation strategies and corporate finance are among the most important things I learned on the programme. They help me a lot in my current work. Skills for setting up new channels and negotiating with different counterparties or customers are of particular importance in the banking sector. When solving routine tasks concerning international settlements and export/import transactions in the current environment, I often use my student experience of teamwork, where I had to be creative and manoeuvre between different interests and opinions.

The most valuable experience I gained on the MIB programme is of course networking, which I’ve had since the first day of my studies there. The connections and good relationships I have made with my classmates have repeatedly helped me navigate difficult situations and motivated me to try out new things. Even today, they allow me to keep my finger on the pulse in many areas. 

Maria Pinson, 2017 MIB graduate, brand manager for an international FMCG company, instructor of an MIB research seminar, academic supervisor of Master’s theses

In addition to being an instructor of research seminars as part of the MIB programme at HSE University, as well as academic supervisor and opponent of graduation theses, I am also a member of the graduation, admission, and examination committees on the MIB programme.

Before applying to MIB, I received a Bachelor's degree in Economics from HSE University. During the four years of my undergraduate studies, my devotion to HSE University grew stronger and stronger. At the same time, I wanted to study something new in the next stage of my education to become a more versatile specialist. The MIB programme met all my needs, allowing me to continue my studies at my alma mater in the field of management, which was new for me. Moreover, I was attracted by the practising teachers, the opportunity to study in English and with students with different educational, professional and cultural backgrounds, and the convenient schedule, which allows you to combine study and work. To make sure I made the right choice, I took the elective subject ‘International Entrepreneurship’ taught by MIB Academic Director Irina Kratko while in the 4th year of my Bachelor's programme. I also attended the Open Day. The rest is history: not only did I enrol and complete two years of the programme, but I have been a visiting instructor for five years now.

Working in a team on numerous group projects was a kind of essential experience I got at HSE University. It is not the easiest task for natural individualists. Being able to work in a team, particularly a cross-cultural one, has helped me build a career. The experience of speaking in front of large audiences during individual and group presentations has also been useful.

I liked MIB mainly because my expectations matched the reality. The programme gave me what I had enrolled in it for, and even more. Firstly, I was able to spend a semester abroad in one of the world's best universities in the field of international business. Secondly, I am grateful to MIB for the wonderful people, many of whom I still keep in touch with.

As for difficulties, I would mention the high demands on the quality of the papers and presentations in the mid-term and graduation exams. Studying in the evenings on weekdays and all day on Saturdays is a challenge as well, but this lets you build a career in parallel with your studies.

Anastasia Sadovnikova, 2014 MIB graduate, Foreign Buyer Expert, Russian Export Center, academic supervisor of Master’s theses

As an international business professional, I look for foreign partners for Russian companies that would like to go international. This means I’m working in the field I studied back at university.

I had already been working for a few years after I finished my specialist degree when I realised that I wanted to get an additional business education. My main criteria were as follows: the programme must be practice-oriented; it must include a set of useful subjects; it must teach tools that could be used at work and provide an international level of education. The programme complied with all these requirements. Another advantage was that the training was in English.

I like the fact that HSE University puts a lot of emphasis on independent work. The teacher acts as a mentor, explaining the theory and giving tools, but students have to do most of the work themselves, being proactive and learning to find and use the material they are being taught.

For me, the hardest part of the MIB programme was studying accounting and corporate finance, as my first degree was in humanities—I am a linguist and a translator. However, a little bit of independent work and persistence as well as support from teachers helped me realise that I could master everything efficiently and then use this knowledge at work.

In my current work, I constantly use what I learned on the MIB programme about internationalisation strategies, marketing strategies, negotiation skills, and how to do business in different countries.

I would advise students of the programme not to be afraid of learning new subjects, no matter how difficult they might look at first. University is the best place to try out new things and make the most of the resources that university provides, including knowledge, workshops, exchange opportunities, etc.

Also, I urge everyone—especially those who already have work experience—not to be sceptical, not to think that you already know everything. Believe me, you have something to learn from every teacher, both in terms of theory and practice. Hearing, appreciating, and applying valuable advice is a very important skill that will help you in your work and career.

The Master of International Business Programme is holding an Open House Day on November 24th, 2022 at 7 pm. Speakers at the event will include the programme’s academic director, teaching practitioners, students and alumni. To attend the event in person or via Zoom, please register in advance.

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