Russian B-School Ready to Take the World By Storm

The Moscow School of Management Skolkovo will take in its first batch of full-time MBA students in January, and dean Wilfried Vanhonacker says that within the next 20 years he hopes to make Skolkovo one of the top schools in the world.

According to Ben Arisrecent piece in Business News Europe, Vanhonacker is the man to do it: he already set up China’s first business school CEIBS (China Europe International Business School) over a decade ago, which is now one of the world’s 10 best schools as ranked by Financial Times last year.

A top-notch business school in Russia is badly needed, Aris reports. A recent study by consultants McKinsey found that up to 80% of the gap between the US’ productivity and Russia’s was simply due to poor management. Virtually all of Russia’s top companies complain that the lack of good managers is the single biggest impediment to business.

Skolkovo will become fully operational at the start of next year when the first 45 full-time students enroll for the €50,000 MBA course. Just last week, the school announced its core faculty team. Learn more about this international group of instructors here.

“We call the program an MBA, but the product is unique and it needs explaining. It is not a typical MBA for the typical applicant,” says Vanhonacker. “We are looking for a more entrepreneurial type of person with energy and the desire to make a difference, as you need these qualities in the fast moving emerging markets.”

How is Skolkovo different?

Rather than stay on campus and pour over case studies, students will spend the first 12 months of the 16-month course on five projects that throw them into the real world. Their “exercises” are to solve real world problems in real world companies.

Also, Aris writes that the directness of the school’s approach is also reflected in its marketing campaign. Skolkovo is looking for unusual students; the school does not advertise in the mainstream international press (apart from a few ads in the Financial Times) and spends most of its time looking for students through social networking sites and similar forums on the internet.

Much of what the school is proposing to do is a pretty radical experiment in new teaching methods, Aris reports, noting that given Vanhonacker’s track record, established schools are keen to see if Skolkovo’s formula will prove successful. “We are being closely watched by other schools, especially in the US, as we are doing things they would like to do but can’t,” says Vanhonacker.

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