Russia’s first business school: ready for the “next level”

Moscow School of Management. Architectural Digest photo

When Yuri Levin took over as rector of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO in late 2020, he predicted: “MSM will become one of the leading educational institutions providing training for a successful career in the digital future. Less than a year after taking office, Levin is keeping his promise.

One of the leading business schools in Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States which includes much of the former USSR, MSM SKOLKOVO on Saturday (September 18th) announced the launch of its new ten-year strategy to coincide with the celebration of the 15th business school anniversary. The three-pronged strategy includes a plan to hire more than 30 international business professors over the next 10 years, with an ambitious goal of gender equality: 40% of the teaching staff will be female professors by 2025 , and 50% by the year 2031.

“It’s been extremely busy,” says Levin, former professor of business analysis and artificial intelligence at the Smith School of Business at Queen’s University in Canada, of his first year working in Russia. “But at the same time, it’s been rewarding. I did not regret for a minute my decision to join the school. It is a welcoming country, it is a welcoming school. And we have many ambitious plans.


Yuri Levine

SKOLKOVO – “Silicon Valley” in Russian – is more than just a business school; it also creates joint educational programs and carries out research projects aimed at fostering “a better understanding between Russia and the world”. Founded by a dozen businessmen in 2006, it has graduated more than 3,200 through its degree programs – MBA, EMBA and HKUST-SKOLKOVO EMBA for Eurasia – and its entrepreneurial programs: Practicum, Global SHIFT and Startup Academy.

These numbers are, however, eclipsed by the school’s alumni in corporate programs – there are more than 34,000 – and the nearly 10,000 graduates of its Step into School Development programs, educational programs for leaders. strategic schools. MSM has also graduated over 3,200 of its B2C programs and 7,200 of its B2B programs.

More and more programs are being added all the time, says Levin.

“Overall, despite another Covid year, the total number of programs has increased,” he says. “The development of the school’s online programs has contributed to this growth. The number of programs increased from 135 last year to 148.

As part of its new 10-year strategy, the school is adding an open enrollment program for sustainability leaders and revising its MBA to focus more on sustainability, innovation and digital transformation – hallmarks of the school. modern higher education in commerce.

“We are completely changing the format of our MBA program,” says Levin. “Our MBA program was generic. Now we will focus. Our MBA format will therefore be as follows: people take general management courses, then they will specialize in the school’s areas of intervention: digital transformation, sustainability, social innovation. The idea, the goal is to train functional leaders in these areas.

“We believe that sustainability is something that should be built into the strategy. ”


MSM SKOLKOVO’s flagship programs saw record enrollments throughout the 2020-2021 fiscal year, with 88 trainees in the school’s workshop, 71 students in the EMBA which was ranked number one in Europe from the ‘Is by The Financial Times in 2020, and 67 in the MBA program. MOOVE – a program where students launch projects and add cases to their portfolios, run by SKOLKOVO & MTS, a Russian mobile communications and financial services company – broke last year’s record with 44 listeners in the classroom .

No wonder the school plans to hire – and in some cases attract – a small army of new teachers over the next decade. According to Rector Yuri Levin’s plan, new teachers would represent 30% of all teaching staff at the school by 2025 and 50% by 2031.

“We feel like we’ve accomplished a lot, but now is the time to look ahead and we would like to take this school to the next level,” he says.

In fact, says Levin, the recruitment of new faculty at MSM has already started.

“We have just hired five professors in the field of digital transformation and analysis from the best business schools in the world,” says Levin, who received his PhD. in Operations Research from Rutgers University in 2001 and was appointed to Poets and Quants‘List of the 40 under 40 of 2016 when he was a professor at Queen’s in Ontario. “NYU Stern, NCI, Queens University in Canada. So again for the first 15 years the school used what I would call a brokerage faculty model. It’s like CEIBS in China. We’re going to bring in professors, we’re going to bring in guest professors from the best business schools, to bring the school to the next level. To develop research, you need a solid base of full-time professors in our areas of intervention.

With its new recruits, SKOLKOVO will be able to realize the first part of its three-part strategic plan: leadership in digital transformation and sustainability – in Russia and beyond.


SKOLKOVO has two other main goals over the next decade: customer focus and lifelong learning, which means “to become a platform for talented people who support diversity and contribute to their success. “; and Sustainability, Growth and Experimentation, which requires “providing financial sustainability and space for experimentation” and “becoming one of Russia’s leading providers of technological education in management and business”.

To achieve the first goal, the school aims to increase the salary growth of alumni to 80% and to increase by 75% the number of alumni who have been promoted or changed jobs to a higher position in the two years. As stated in its new 10-year plan, the school also wants to increase by 75% the number of alumni who have started their own business or achieved the growth of their current business in two years after completing their studies, and increase the number. of corporate clients having achieved the objectives outlined in their contract by 90%.

The second objective is a question of income. The school seeks to achieve 121-fold growth in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) from 2021 to 2031, to 1.091 billion rubles, or nearly $ 15 million at the current exchange rate, by the end of 10 years. One way to do this is to expand its sales geography: the school intends to promote its educational programs both in the regions of Russia and abroad, adding one city per year in the main regions: St. Petersburg, Ekaterinburg, Novosibirsk , Rostov-on-Don, Kazan and Vladivostok. The school expects to generate additional income of $ 2.5 million per year in each region.

Can the school generate so much new income? It’s already on its way, says its rector.

“Our income has increased by over 20% during the pandemic year,” said Yuri Levin, adding that for the past 10 years the school has operated independently within its budget. “I know that the profits of most of the world schools have gone up because their costs have gone down. So I specifically focused on income. So in a way we’ve grown quite a bit. For next year, we have an ambitious growth target of around 35%. And our exercise has just started at the beginning of July, but we are progressing very well.

See the next page for a Q&A with Yuri Levin, Rector of the Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, edited for length and clarity.

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