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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Kremlin MBA Program Gets 5-Year Extension

Oleg Korolyov / Vedomosti

Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko

A pioneering program created by presidential decree in 1997 to foster a new breed of business leaders was given a new lease on life on Tuesday.

"We are so impressed by the results that we've decided to extend the program until 2007," Deputy Prime Minister Viktor Khristenko told some of the 26,000 past and present participants of the program who gathered in Moscow to commemorate its fifth anniversary.

Created in 1997 by then-President Boris Yeltsin, the Presidential Manager and Executive Training Program has given thousands of young people from all over the country the opportunity to study modern business management techniques both at home and abroad.

Ilnur Taktabayev was one of the first applicants. Back in 1997 he was living in Omsk, had just turned 25 and had been working in a small real estate company for two years when he heard about the scholarship opportunity and decided to apply.

Now Taktabayev has a master's degree in business administration from the University of South Carolina and is a senior manager at a successful company in Moscow.


RSPP head Arkady Volsky

The program, financially supported by a combination of federal and regional budgets, big business and grants from 12 countries, is administered by some 2,000 employees in offices in 80 regions. A quota system ensures that people from all over the country are included -- with the government reserving 10 percent of the scholarships for its own employees.

Although wildly popular -- more than 14,000 applications have been received so far this year -- the $10 million annual contribution from the Russian side pales in comparison to the funding received from abroad. Germany, for example, has contributed more than $31 million over the last five years, while Britain has pitched in $10 million and the European Union $6 million. Even so, it is not enough to fund a Western-style education program, participants say.

To qualify, applicants must be under 40, have at least one year of managerial experience and pass four exams, including one in a foreign language. The program is divided into two parts -- theoretical business education at home and practical training abroad. Winners receive grants to study masters-level business courses for two years -- one at a participating Russian university and one either at a participating university abroad or as an intern in a foreign firm.

Oksana Grishina, 28, is the general director of Greenurbonet, a public relations company in St. Petersburg. Although she runs a company, Grishina said she applied for the program last year because she has an arts degree and lacks managerial training.

She was accepted and is now juggling her professional duties while studying in her first year at St. Petersburg State University. For the second year of the program, Grishina said she wants to study in Britain.

When finished, Grishina could join the hundreds of graduates of the program who are filling the ranks at some of the biggest companies in the county -- there are 75 at Severstal, for example, 60 at United Heavy Machineries, 59 at AvtoVAZ, 56 at Unified Energy Systems and 20 at Russian Aluminum.

Despite the program's success, however, it cannot meet a fraction of the nation's need, according to Arkady Volsky, the head of the nation's most powerful lobby group, RSPP, which unites many of the companies who have benefited the most from the initiative.

A lack of skilled managers remains one of the biggest problems facing Russian companies, Volsky said.

"We have a lot of entrepreneurs, but we don't have enough qualified senior managers -- we need at least a million and a half more," he said. "The results of the program is almost nothing compared to this amount, but it is a good starting point, because these people will become our base."