Sputnik: Your school has a number of collaborations with eastern partners in Hong Kong, in India, we saw your collaboration with the Indian School of Business. Is it a coincidence, this turn to the East, or is it just part of your work?
Andrei Sharonov: It’s part of our work because we have both eastward and westward orientation and we’re looking for cooperation with first of all reputable business schools and in Europe we do cooperate with IMD swiss business school in Lausanne, ESMT European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, and we do cooperate with American business schools, in particular, Yale University School of Management in Berkeley, and we have decided to find similar, in terms of ranking, partners in the east, and we have paid attention at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology because it’s a very reputable and high ranked business school both globally and particularly in Asia and China, and their executive MBA program which was launched 22 years ago together with American partner Business School of Kellog University now is number one according to the Financial Times rating, eight times during last ten years, so it’s a very, very serious result. And we have decided to create an executive MBA program with them and the idea of this program is to create the first-ever program dedicated to Eurasia, Eurasia as a phenomenon, as a part of the world, as a group of projects, and a particular project is the Belt and Road initiative created but the Chinese leader, and this executive MBA program about Eurasia includes different visits to Eurasian and other countries. So besides Russia, Hong Kong, and China this program takes place in Kazakhstan, part of the historical silk road, India, and that’s why this Indian School of Business is our partner also, and then Israel, Tel Aviv University, then Switzerland, St. Gallen Business School, and the United States, it’s Haas School of Business, [University of California] Berkeley in the Silicon Valley. So we would like to create an opportunity for all the participants of this program to touch the water in terms of business opportunities among this big economic and political initiative - Belt and Road - and we would like to get a real international program with participation of people from different countries with exposure to different business schools, that’s the idea.
Sputnik: Business education is a highly competitive area, MBAs are popular all over the world and it’s changing rapidly, and the job market is changing. How do you manage to stay relevant? What kind of need technologies are you using, is it e-learning, is it something else?
Andrei Sharonov: E-learning, distant learning is a part of the curriculum and one of the forms delivering knowledge and skills to participants. And we use usually, and in this program, in particular, module type of program when people spend from 4 to 6 days per month on the campus and the rest they spend at their job place. So it’s probably the only way for many, many adults and managers to learn, only through module type programs. And between these face-to-face modules, people use e-learning, distant courses, pre-reading, so as many schools we do use this opportunity.
Sputnik: You mentioned recently that there’s a deficit of small and medium enterprises in Russia, can we learn from our Indian and Chinese colleagues in terms of promoting SMEs in Russia, what has to be done?
Andrei Sharonov: Probably these two countries demonstrate another pull of cases, they have much more SMEs compared with the average level, I can save so. So according to the OECD [Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development] statistics the average rate of small and medium enterprises impact into GDP, national GDP, is about 50%, from 45% to 55%, so unfortunately, in Russia we have this number between 20% to 23% during a couple of decades. So it’s not just one year, it’s quite a long period. While in these countries, in China and in India, this number is about 70%. And I think it’s one, not all, but one of the characteristics of the business climate in the country because particularly small companies are more sensitive towards this business climate, and if we see the lack in the number of small and medium enterprises it means that this climate is not very friendly towards this type of businesses.
Sputnik: A lot has been done in this direction, we’ve heard about the one window philosophy and providing all the documentation for small companies and entrepreneurs. What else has to be done? Is it tax incentives, government subsidies, or is it just government attention, new laws?
Andrei Sharonov: You know it’s not the first year or the first attempt to solve this problem and for many years since end of the 90s the government has tried to create a more appropriate, a more attractive environment, and now, if you would like, there’s a new wave, a new set of ideas, and one of the very, let’s say, activate ideas is regulatory 8.38 which means that the government is ready to cut off many outdated or excessive regulation norms to improve the environment, make it easier, more transparent, less costly, and it’s a good initiative, and we need some time to look at the situation and to see results, hope they will be more substantial than the previous attempt.