Denis Ryzhov, EMBA-6

— I believe CURIOSITY is one of the most important qualities of a successful person. In my company this quality is paramount among our values. I always say to my staff, «Look around, get surprised, and search for something new.»

Denis Ryzhov owns a marketing communication agency that he founded in 2001. «What a persistence» — I was surprised — «this shows a person does business that he really loves.»

However, the fact that Dennis told me afterwards was both amusing and surprising — it turned out that he used to be a meteorologist! How did this happen? Denis joined a geography department at the MSU. He thought geography was about traveling. Maybe he wanted to discover a remote island with white sand? ..

However studies is the first year turned to be incredibly boring and complicated. Instead of traveling only minerals and a lot of numbers… And Denis received three fails he had later to retake. In the summer he had a practical assignment and here the picture suddenly changed. Curious Denis suddenly excelled in all the university subjects. Organized the work of various sub-groups (and soil science, and geomorphology, and many more), participated in almost all the events. The results were surprising and the professors were amazed. The MSU departments started arguing which direction Denis should go to receive further specialization. Meteorologists won but not for long. «After all it is not for me,» — said Denis, and decided to become a lawyer.

After a year of studies in the Academic Law University Denis decided to become a part-time student and went to Cuba to live. But before doing that he had even managed to work as a DJ and set his first small start-up to promote DJs in the Moscow clubs.

Cuba resulted in working for a successful Russian real estate developer. Denis traded forest, travel services and even spare parts for Soviet cars. It was not until the crisis of 1998 when the business went bankrupt and left the Cubans with broken hearts. Dennis had to return to Russia.

Then there was a marketing job for the Kremlin Cup Tennis Tournament organization. «This job was my first experience working with sponsors and event management. The company runs events throughout the year with a budget of more than $10 million!» After that came a short episode in a small advertising agency. And then, finally, freedom-loving and energetic Denis got ready for his own start-up in the business of marketing communications. This is how the Key Link agency appeared in 2001.

The path to the wishes was tough, as well as the start was not easy. For the first two years Denis almost worked in a car with four cell phones and three employees. When the car and the kitchen could not fit more employees they rented an office and settled down. Today the agency employs more than 40 people, runs projects in Russia and abroad.

— Dennis, why did you decide to go to study to SKOLKOVO?

— I wanted some new territory, as I was bored. Can’t I do anything else? I was racked with ideas, but many of them just stayed as ideas and became intellectual baggage. I was looking for new contacts, new projects. Or at least I just wanted to become a student, because I had barely had college life as began to work early.

— Are you satisfied with the results?

— My curiosity became even more practical. We are now developing a new project with my fellow students in the area of Internet technologies that is completely new for me. Too early to say, but I am very passionate about this project. And we also cooperate with some of my classmates in the area of my company activities. Knowledge — check. But prior to all of that it’s the community. Initially I came here for specific knowledge, and, in fact, the most valuable was communication. After all, getting into a group of forty different people significantly expands your horizons, develops your world, and widens your perception. It was very interesting to work with a coach. The coach helped learn to listen to myself, understand the internal motives and find the way out for creative energy. Also to balance my power and bring it to different projects, communication with my family and my son.

Dennis loves downhill skiing and traveling. While traveling he tries to understand how people live, work. Denis’s motto is «If you’re curious, you are relevant.» Dennis surprised me with a combination of continuity and dynamism. Which is curious. And relevant.


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