Andrei Tokarev, EMBA student 5

I met Andrei on a mountain trail …

I could not resist writing this unusual sentence.  It is not that I often go tracking in the mountains, or that  Andrei is the most avid mountaineer, but nevertheless, this is how we first met.  In April 2012 we climbed to Everst Base Camp when we traveled to Napal with SKOLKOVO XL.

Andrei gives across the impression of quiet strength.  There is no aggression, no fuss. Upon meeting Andrei, I had no doubt upon that he would reach the summit.  This was my first impression, and I was right.

Nearly eight months later, in a quiet Italian restaurant, Andrei told me that when he worked at FESCO (a diversified transport group), colleagues in the industry called him «tuff guy». Tough guy. Andrei was based at the Vladivostok port and worked on building business processes.  After seven years of hard work the company based on a “patriarchal Soviet system” was transformed into a company using modern methods of management, with increased transparency which provided higher returns thus enabling shareholders to successfully sell their stakes. When the port became part of FESCO, Andrei was invited to work in Moscow as the Head of Port Assets covering territories stretching from the Baltic to the Black Sea and Far East.  Four years later — Andrei was dealing with the largest port facilities in Russia.

Andrei is intelligent and methodical. Although he has his own  opinions he also knows how to listen. When asked what he thinks his strongest trait is he said:

“Probably, common sense. I came into this job with no specific background.  This was absolutely atypical for the industry and more so for the company. My suggestions always relied on common sense, and therefore were largely understood and accepted.  I started of as the Deputy Director for Economics and Planning, which is a routine and quite an ordinary job. Towards  the end of my time, I was working on restructuring to create greater transparency, and control and prepare the company for sale.”

— And what was FESCO like?

“Common sense, and having a cool head helped my work in FESCO. I worked on transactions and improving corporate governance.  It was an interesting job.  Especially since their was no formal supervision and control in the company which is sometimes needed in order to implement your goals. If a day went by without any unpleasant surprises or bad news — it was deemed an amazing day.”  Against this background Andrey’s work to improve the production efficiency seemed routine. All in all it was a good experience.”

— Why did you decide to leave?

— “During my four years in FESCO, ie since he moved to Moscow, the imbalance between work and personal life grew.  I gave up my hobby.  I used to take  photos, and be an amature journalist. I realized that hardly saw my wife, children, or friends.   On top of this almost all the largest corporate projects were finished – we had sold, bought, and consolidated.

After a pause, he added that SKOLKOVO also helped him take a decsion in principle.

Sometimes we are so immersed in doing what we love that we cannot understand how it is possible to exist otherwise.  Often new things (in terms of SKOLKOVO, it it is meeting very accomplished and diverse people) allow us to look at things and oneself in new ways.

So thanks to  SKOLKOVO Andrei has left institutional corporate companies behind and joined the community of enthusiastic entrpreneurs who want to start a business and dream about making a a difference. (I apologize to all corporate types, nothing personal, its just that I can see more madcaps like me around).

Now Andrei is working on  several projects in the field of logistics and applying his  methodical experience, connections and knowledge.  Describing one such project he says:

«Its about just sending a container from China to Moscow. Very simple, secure, on schedule, the customer just buy a ticket and send a shipment. No special privileges for affiliated companies, no delays at the border, no fiddling with congestion in logistics centers.  We will provide convenience and a reliable element of infrastructure for the business. Hopefully this will help our market as a whole to become more market-based (we both sigh). »

I was pleased to find out about another «non-profit» (as Andrei calls it) project. Andrei also supports an alternate studio of music education in St. Petersburg. Among other things, students are taught to write electronic music. Less solfeggio and more creativity. Those in to music will understand that this project covers a gap between what classical training provides and what young people are interested in. Andrei supported this project because he liked the creativity, passion, and experiance  of the people involed in it.

— Big changes for the better can sometimes be triggered by small actions. I try to do trigger change myself, and also involve people.  Often change can start with us. One can build a playground for children … or a school … Or support a project and not go on about useless officials and but assert their rights. In general, I believe that one should take an active position in life.

Before traveling to the Himalayas, I had not met Andrei — even at the preparatory meetings he was silent.  Whats the point of talking if all the necessary information is already been given out.

That is, Andrei is not verbose. If you have a question – ask and its no sooner said than done.


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