‘A True Leader Is Someone Who Strives to Make a Better World’
Ten years ago, HSE University established a Joint Department with McKinsey&Company, a global consulting company. McKinsey partners teach three courses in the programme, and they intend to expand their collaboration with the university. Vitaly Klintsov, McKinsey Managing Partner for Russia and CIS countries, spoke with HSE News Service about why he likes teaching and what qualities make a modern leader.
System of Values Rather Than Recruiting
When ten years ago we set up the Joint Department, we had the following idea in mind. In the 1990s, the majority of our new employees were graduates in physics and mathematics, while in the 2000s, people who had graduated from HSE University became the focus of our attention. So we thought it would be the right thing to establish our own department here to get our ideas and values across to HSE students. We are deeply grateful to HSE Rector Yaroslav Kuzminov for putting forward the idea of setting up this department. We didn’t do it for recruiting purposes. We only wanted to teach students. Although McKinsey hold special recruiting events for HSE students, our graduates do not have any advantages.
Our department has always been an independent one, and it is very popular among HSE students. We began by launching one course called ‘Leadership as a Personal Strategy’. We then moved on to add another two courses—‘Functional Management’ and ‘Competitiveness of Industries’. However, our first course, ‘Leadership as a Personal Strategy’, remains our essential and most popular one. The course aims to familiarize students with the contemporary interpretation of the concept of leadership.
A true leader today is someone who makes systematic efforts to make a better world. Psychologists believe that people who do this account for an average 4% of the total population. Personally, I think this percentage is much higher at HSE University, and it is especially high among students of our course. Our second course, ‘Functional Management’, aims to help students understand how a corporation operates. Students can do this by studying each individual function, including strategy, marketing, procurement, etc. Finally, we use our third course, ‘Competitiveness of Industries’, to analyze the performance of several key economy sectors, such as oil and gas, construction, telecommunications, etc.
We are impressed by the students who enrol in our courses, including those from other universities. They are equally well prepared and eager to study. This motivates us a lot because it makes our job really rewarding. We have to limit the number of students in our courses. Ideally, there shouldn’t be more than 50-60 people. This enables us to communicate individually with each of them. The lectures are long, each of them lasts four academic hours, and we set out some time for discussions and brainstorming. The lecturer encourages all students to take part in the discussion so that everyone participates. The vast majority of students are eager to share their opinions. We also organize team activities, including working with a sparring partner, which is quite a rare studying approach.
Our students have a lot of homework to do, but we don’t want them to waste too much time on it. For instance, when I ask them to write an essay, I tell them this essay should be no longer than one page. This enables me to give feedback to each student’s work. Sometimes the essays I receive are excellent. I usually evaluate assignments according to a scale of 0 to 20 points, but sometimes I give scores as high as 25. I remember some of those essays very well for their original thought and cogent style. I read strong essays aloud to the students every once in a while, without mentioning the author’s name of course. We receive students’ feedback after each lecture. Students can assess our work as teachers and provide their comments. This is very helpful, although it is not quite easy to earn a high score.
Our department has become a valuable asset of HSE University, and the university has provided us with a very comfortable working environment. After completing one of our courses, students often choose other programmes we offer, which is a good sign. So far we have focused on, if I may put it like this, in-depth development of our courses—in other words, updating and expanding our programmes rather than launching new courses. We add some new data each year. For instance, the examples we used for our Functional Management course ten years ago are substantially different from those we use now. Today the topics related to digital and big data are among the key areas of our studies. We have established a very strong Digital and Big Data Division at McKinsey over the past decade. We continue to update and develop the content of the courses we teach at HSE University, shaping the agenda for the future.
Vitaly Klintsov, McKinsey Managing Partner, Russian and CIS
Vitaly graduated from the Moscow Engineering and Physical Institute (MEPHI) and the University of California, San Diego. He joined McKinsey in 1997. Vitaly leads large-scale transformation projects for public corporations and major companies in different industries. He has extensive experience in developing competitive strategy and organizational capabilities, major project optimization, developing corporate culture, and encouraging innovation.
The HSE Academic Council has approved the establishment of joint departments with five institutes of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) at the new Faculties of Chemistry and Biology and Biotechnologies of HSE. Students will gain access to laboratory equipment and learn how to conduct research and develop new technology and medicines.
The joint department with SAS at the HSE Faculty of Computer Science aims to support educational programmes in data analysis and enrich teaching and learning with business expertise. The Higher School of Economics is the first Russian university to have founded a joint department with SAS.
HSE and Moscow Exchange are founding a joint Department of Financial Market Infrastructure at the Faculty of Economic Sciences. It will bring together HSE lecturers and Moscow Exchange staff. Students will be offered new courses and will also have the opportunity to participate in project work and undertake internships at the Exchange.
Evgenia Kondrashina graduated with honours from the International College of Economics and Finance (ICEF) bachelor’s programme in 2005 before going on to receive her master’s from the London School of Economics. An excellent student, Evgenia for a long time thought that the next logical step would be a prestigious career at a top English consulting firm, but the idea of following in others’ footsteps doesn’t make everyone happy. Evgenia deviated from this trajectory and found herself in one of the world’s leading orchestras – the London Symphony Orchestra – where she continues to work today.