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About Success Builder

How do you find your place in life? How do you find something to do that both comes naturally to you and makes you happy? The answer is that you have to apply the knowledge you’ve gained from university and from life itself correctly. The Success Builder Project features HSE University graduates who have discovered themselves through an interesting business or an unexpected profession. The protagonists share their experiences and lessons learnt and talk about how they’ve made the most of the opportunities they were given.

Management specialists consider modern bank management to be one of the most difficult professional fields out there, especially in Russia, a country where the economy changes rapidly and forecasts are hard to come up with. At the same time, however, it is an incredibly interesting place to learn as you go, enter uncharted territory, and sometimes even break the rules. HSE Banking Institute graduate Mikhail Rozin, who is currently a senior vice president at the Russian Regional Development Bank, sat down with Success Builder to discuss what makes education in Russia just as good as in the West, how being a good actor can help you manage a bank, and why a banker became a flutist.

Did you always know you would one day work in banking?

No, but I came to HSE’s Finance and Banking MBA programme with 10 years of experience working at banks, and I had a clear picture of what I wanted and why I needed to be in this programme in particular.

What pushed you to continue your education?

I started working in the banking sector in 1994, and since then my work has focused on financial markets, trading, and asset management. I was a trader for a long time, which gave me some good experience. But while this experience can serve as a good foundation for professional growth, it is sometimes necessary to systematise this experience, acquire new knowledge, and obtain relevant information on modern trends in the business. This is why MBA programmes exist. Foreign programmes are definitely more prestigious, but if you want to learn, you shouldn’t put off your plans just because you don’t have the time or money to study abroad. You can also get an excellent, modern education in Moscow, and it’s a great place to improve your professional competencies. This was exactly why I decided to do the Finance and Banking MBA at HSE.

What exactly is the difference between an education in Russia and an education abroad?

A few years after HSE, I got into the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. Over the course of 13 months, I flew to Chicago several times and spent a total of two months there. Honestly, I don’t think that my experience was enough to make an objective comparison. The topic is worthy of researching more seriously though.

For me personally, both programmes were an excellent push for development, and they enriched my previous knowledge considerably. Of course, the quality of your education is important, but what’s more important is a person’s attitude and approach towards learning. You can go to some of the best universities in the world and take nothing from your studies, just like you can learn more than ever in some of the contemporary programmes that Russian universities offer. In addition, the business environment is more aggressive in the West, which is why specialists from the banking sector constantly have to keep moving, growing, and competing. In this sense, we have something to learn from them.

Any experience can be important in a manager’s career, and failures help form a leader just like successes do if a person is prepared to admit their mistakes and work on themselves

Have you ever worked for a larger international bank? This is typically an important factor for growth.

Unfortunately, I’ve never worked at a global financial organisation. This truly gives you a powerful boost forward, but there are countless other factors that help form highly qualified specialists, businessmen, and leaders. Everyone achieves his or her final result individually. I know a lot of professionals who have never worked at a global bank, and they are still capable of competing with their colleagues from abroad.

How important is it for a manager to have business experience and experience working with their own investments?

Everyone has to work with his or her own investments, no matter how large or small. As soon as you have what would be considered ‘extra savings,’ you immediately start searching for an investment idea. It might be simple, like depositing the money in a savings account, or it might be more complex, like investing in a business that brings you profit.



is how much an MBA graduate’s salary increases around the world on average. In Russia, this figure is 150% given general career growth opportunities



Almost the same thing happens on a professional level, but the size of investments and the level of responsibility are different. Experience running your own business, like any business experience, is helpful for managers. It helps them perceive things objectively, view tasks from different points of view, and more easily find common ground with clients and partners.

I’ve spent almost my entire professional career at banks and various companies working as a manager, but I remember that there was a period of time when I had decided to work on my own project. I realised rather quickly that I wasn’t ready for that work format and returned to something I was more used to. Any experience can be important in a manager’s career, and failures help form a leader just like successes do if a person is prepared to admit their mistakes and work on themselves. You also have to have personal qualities that allow you to transform your experience into individual or team-oriented successes.

If you have the internal qualities of a leader, maybe you don’t need to go back to school?

School is an integral part of success in today’s world. The banking business is particularly dynamic, and competition is fierce. Someone is always trying to get ahead of you, which is why you always have to be at your best. School systematises your thinking and gives you an emotional and intellectual spark. Even if you’re already really successful, you can’t submerge yourself in this comfort and calmness. This stops you from growing and makes you less interested in innovation. It slows down your reaction time. You can’t stop or else you’ll be forgotten.

How has education affected your work?

Education always shows you how theory works in practice. You take on a new view of ordinary things, and you think of untraditional solutions. New opportunities arise. Talking with teachers and students, exchanging your opinions, discussing the real-life successes and failures your classmates go through, dissecting cases containing examples of famous international companies – this all inspires you, expands your consciousness, and shakes up your work routine. Putting new knowledge into practice is of course a huge advantage, and if such an opportunity arises, you have to take advantage of it.

Photo by Mikhail Dmitriev

Do you participate in your employees’ lives as far as career growth is concerned? Do you determine who gets the green light and who doesn’t?

Any team’s goal is to achieve results. Career growth will follow if you show commitment and achieve your objectives. The people who come work at a bank or company for no other reason than to make a career of it are ineffective in my opinion. You have to have the right motivation. You have to be engaged in what you’re doing. Career growth as a central professional goal – that’s not the right motivation, and this kind of person is of no use to the team. You also shouldn’t be afraid to save your team from demotivation as well.

There are always more people who deserve advancement than there are top positions, but if a person is capable and fully committed to their work and to achieving results, then this person should be viewed based on their professional qualities and not on the position itself. And you always have to find the opportunity to reward such individuals fairly. This is what I try to do as a manager.

Have you ever asked yourself if you’re doing the right thing?

I’ve been lucky in that regard. I love my job, and my track record suggests that I’m on the right path.

Which banking divisions in particular currently need young professionals most?

Young professionals with an excellent academic background and a fresh take on things are needed everywhere. What’s most important is that they have the desire to work, develop in different fields, and gain professional experience. It’s important to take advantage of the differences in how different generations think. Businesses always need creative and fresh solutions, even when a system is already well established and runs like clockwork. In order to keep up with modern trends, you have to understand where the new generation is headed. After all, this is the generation that will soon define both consumer demand and ideology.

To what extent is creativity valued in an industry as conservative as banking?

It’s hard to think of something in place of banking activity itself, but the format in which new products and services are sold is regularly being rethought, and this paves the way for constant innovation. Everything is now moving towards informational and financial technologies, which is why banks have to form their strategies by looking towards the future and taking into account the trends that are being formed. They also have to bring in professionals who come from the so-called ‘professions of the future.’

The people who come to work at a bank or company for no reason other than to make a career of it are ineffective in my opinion

As for the banking services market in Russia, what makes it different from the rest of the world?

I don’t see any fundamental differences here. Each country is unique and has its own legislation, but as concerns the services and the quality of a product, the approaches are the same everywhere. The market has been globalised for a while, and the things that are in demand spread across the world very quickly. Banks all over the globe are quick to copy one another’s successes, and this is a factor in winning the battle for clients. If there is something unique here, it lies in philosophy, culture, and the national mentality. This is the same for any business.

Do you try to share your knowledge and experience with the younger generation?

I am always ready to share my experience, especially since there are a lot of interesting events that have taken place in the modern history of financial markets. But my audience is limited to my colleagues, and because of that, the process of sharing and exchanging experiences is always mutual. If we are talking about a broader audience, then not everyone is prepared for the role of mentor and teacher. You have to have not only knowledge, but also talent to go along with it so that you can keep an audience’s attention for several hours. I don’t think business lectures are really my calling.

What if a businessman were to take acting classes?

Why not… Sometimes a person just needs practice. An instructor is like an actor on stage, and he or she must keep the room in suspense. It’s like a theatre of a single actor. But yes, acting classes would certainly be helpful, and not only for giving lectures. The work of a manager is always to talk to people, and they have to be able to take advantage of different situations to present certain qualities that will be most helpful in solving a problem, all while factoring in the ‘artistic material’ being presented and taking into consideration the characteristics of the audience.

In fact, on my second day at the University of Chicago, they took our entire group, which consisted of students from all over the world, to the university’s theatre. We took an acting class and were then broken up into smaller groups. Each person had a specific role, and each group put on a short play for our classmates. Despite the huge amount of stress everyone was under, especially me, everyone got along. This ended up being one of the most effective and memorable classes I’ve had.

How do you unwind outside of work?

Nothing reenergises you quite like taking a good, long nap or spending time with family. Something else that helps me recharge is yoga, and I also play the flute, which airs out the lungs and mind. The musical vibrations also help calm my nerves.

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