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"I fell in love with the city, the people, and the opportunities that were open to me in Moscow"

Одна из наших студенток 1 курса, Аня Шивон Александер (США), поделилась впечатлениями о жизни в Москве и учебе на нашей программе.


   Current job
: English As a Second Language Teacher

   Prior education: Bachelor’s of Arts in Russian Language and Literature 
   from Boston University, Boston, MA 

   Professional areas of interest: Cloud Software Technology, Customer 
   Experience Management, Sales & Account Management 

   Languages proficient in: English, Russian

   Someone you admire: Anyone who has had the courage and    perseverance to start a new business and see it through to its full potential.







First of all, could you share with us, what was your motivation to pursue a master’s degree in Russia? And how do you find your experience of studying and living in Moscow so far?

I graduated from Boston University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Russian Language and Literature in 2012, and decided shortly thereafter to move to Moscow to teach English as a Second Language. In the 6 months I lived here, I fell in love with the city, the people, and the opportunities that were open to me in Moscow. When I returned to the United States to work in cloud software technology, it was with the knowledge that I wanted to find a way back to Russia one day. 

Three years later, as I was evaluating the next steps in my future – trying to understand where I wanted to be and what I wanted to be doing – a mentor of mine recommended that I look into Master’s programs. I started to do some research and came across the program at the Higher School of Economics. Though not the typical path for someone in the United States, it was a highly regarded school with a solid program and speakers from a diverse array of sectors. Not only would it give me the experience I needed in the business world, but also the opportunity to continue my study of the Russian language and to return to a city I loved. It was the perfect situation and has proven to be everything I could have imagined and more.

The experience has been incredible. Though the days are busy and often long as I juggle work and classes, the people and the experiences I have encountered so far make it worth it. Students from all over Russia, and around the world, have come together in this program and bring a wide range of perspectives, experience, and opinions that only serve to deepen the conversations and create an amazing learning and social environment.


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?

From the research I did before applying to programs, I knew that the Higher School of Economics had an excellent reputation in both Europe and Russia. It was a nationally accredited university with a solid program of courses and professors that held positions of influence within the community. By studying at the Higher School of Economics, I knew I would be able to combine quality of education with a program taught entirely in English (a must for me, as my Russian is still not fluent). With it's location in Moscow, and it's wide range of international partnerships and exchange programs, I knew it would give me the freedom and the ability to really explore the Master's program to its fullest (and it has yet to prove me wrong!)

 
Almost a year of studies at HSE MIB is over. How were your expectations met?

The quality and breadth of education that I have received so far at HSE has not only met, but exceeded my expectations. The teachers, the classes, and the other students continue to impress me more and more every day, and I am being challenged in ways I could never have imagined. The professors have significant in-field experience and a passion for the subjects they teach. The students come from a wide range of backgrounds, and discussions that begin in class often extend out beyond the borders of the university. It has been a steep learning curve over the last few months, and it is one which I am excited to follow through into the second year of the MIB program. 

Can you share with us some of the most exciting or challenging moments?

For me, personally, one of the most exciting moments came at the end of the first semester in our International Marketing Class. Coming from a Sales and Russian Language background, I had little experience with marketing, particularly in the context of launching a product in a new market. Our task for the semester was to design a Marketing Case that would win over investors to the funding of our project launch. In a team of 8, we worked throughout the months to draft and design a full plan that incorporated all of the theoretical marketing tools. It was an extremely challenging project, the extent of which did not hit us until the moment we failed our midterm presentation. Jerked into reality, we realized that with just two months to go, we would have to completely redesign our strategy and presentation from scratch if we were to have any chance of success. Our team truly came together during that time, and we spent weeks meeting in off-hours at a small table in the cafeteria as we built out powerpoint slides, designed and re-designed our product, and argued over key elements of the case. It paid off. The night we presented our final version to the class, we were awarded the title of “most improved” as well as winning the most investor votes of any team. There were tears of relief in all of our eyes as we left the classroom that night, knowing we had accomplished something that had seemed close to impossible just a few weeks before. 

Courses and lecturers you find the most exciting, and why?

For me, the Corporate Finance class has been the most interesting so far. I had always assumed that I hated the financial side of things – steering more towards a career in Sales, Account Managemt, and Customer Success. Accounting caught me off guard with how much I enjoyed having the ability to understand balance sheets and cash flow statements, but Corporate Finance truly put the whole financial business world into perspective. All of a sudden, the priorities and motivation of departments and people I had worked so closely with over the years were truly starting to make sense. There was rhyme and reason to processes which I had never before considered. And there was a refreshing applicability of the material to everyday life. Corporate Finance has been, hands down, one of my favorite classes in the MIB program thusfar. 

In your opinion, what are the most important and useful skills you acquire while being an MIB student?

For me, being an MIB student here at HSE means more than just acquiring the usual business knowledge and skills. I see this experience as being one that will allow me to gain experience in a global context, working and studying with people from all over the world, who have opinions very different from my own. In just a few short months, I have already found myself evaluating and rethinking the ways in which I communicate with and respond to people around me. I am so appreciative for the opportunity to learn from and with people who come from such significantly different backgrounds, and who are unafraid to challenge me on some of my more Western preconceptions.