The SKOLKOVO Secret File

SKOLKOVO Campus was built as a ‘city within a city’. Its architecture is focused on solving specific problems: providing its inhabitants with everything they need to live and work, and making the time they spend at school as comfortable and enjoyable as possible. To that end, in addition to classrooms and auditoriums, the school offers a gym, a cafe and restaurant, a karaoke bar, and even a soccer field.

 

There are nearly 200 staff members and almost twice as many freelancers employed on Campus. The secret files of the school’s Human Resources Department doubtless include a description of the ideal SKOLKOVO Person. This multilayered, multidimensional portrait cannot be sketched with but a few brushstrokes. Every detail must be taken into account: professional experience, personal qualities, energy levels, even attitudes toward the world around them. These aspects play a crucial role in the selection process.

Witnesses, insiders, investigators, and spies planted by competitors agree that SKOLKOVO really does employ interesting, extraordinary people. They are painstakingly selected for their positions in the “city within a city”, and lovingly nurtured in the best incubators and nurseries of human potential.

For this reason, SKOLKOVO is proud of its talent. It proudly boasts about its people on its website and in the pages of business newspapers, on its Facebook page (also follow us on Twitter), and in independent publications. However, some of the SKOLKOVO people, due to the behind-the-scenes nature of their work, never step into the public spotlight. We want – in fact, we consider it our duty – to tell you about them.

SKOLKOVO is their “city”, their world. For them, the Campus is more than just a place of employment: it’s their worldview. Theirs are the brushstrokes that complete the portrait of the ideal SKOLKOVO Person.

We asked four Campus employees what SKOLKOVO means to them, and why they chose this “city”.

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Every morning, I come to work and stumble sleepily into the kitchen for a desperately needed cup of tea. The kitchen smells of Insolence by Estee Lauder. I know this trail of scent must belong to Olga. That means I’m going to take my studiously polished mug and brew my favourite tea – already warmed up – mixing it with the delicious milk the attentive Olga left in the fridge before the workday started.

The perfume was Olga’s birthday gift from her son. She is the mistress of our kitchen, our coffee lady. Olga has been working at the SKOLKOVO for nearly a year now. When she was applying for the job, she thought this would never happen. She responded to an ad, came in for an interview, and became our first-ever coffee lady. Olga loves working at the Campus. When asked why, she says, “I love the environment, and the people are wonderful.” And the work is interesting. Recently, for example, Condoleezza Rice visited the Campus with a group of Stanford students. Olga was invited to meet the high-profile delegation and prepare a room for their arrival. She says Condoleezza asked for tea, was very amicable and pleasant, and left crimson American lipstick on her cup. Olga doesn’t speak English. Once she realized there was room for growth, she decided to learn the language. She is currently shopping around for a good English textbook for independent studies. Soon, Olga will be leaving for a week-long vacation when her beloved granddaughter, barely a year old, comes to visit. A little over two decades from now, that same granddaughter will apply to SKOLKOVO.

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During my first class in the SKOLKOVO gymnasium, I asked about the effectiveness of new big-name sneakers, having fallen victim to the brand’s marketing. At the next class, I received an exhaustive printout of comparative advantages of this and other models, along with a benchmark of physical characteristics for the entire sporting footwear sector. A bit later, in the breaks between individual healthy diet consultations, it was explained to me how one or another parameter shapes the muscles, and how proteins undergo biochemical processes to turn into beautiful musculature.

Alexei himself wears a brand-name sneaker on one foot, and an elegant, stylish shoe on the other. More precisely, in his capacity as Manager of the Planet Fitness Club located inside the SKOLKOVO Campus, he spends a great deal of time with each of the club’s clients, making sure everyone gets the highest level of professional and moral support during workouts. He says it took him four years to create this project. And the passion with which he gives it his all is obvious.

The Campus’s sports centre is designed so that in order to reach the baths, you have to walk up the stairs that pass the workout rooms. I personally like to walk up and down the stairs barefoot, wearing a bathrobe. I don’t have to worry about the soles of my feet or my personal space, because I know for sure that the stairs are washed every time someone uses them, the level of cleanliness borders on obsessive, and the swimming pool has four different purification systems, instead of the usual two.

Sports complex employees call every client by his or her name, and can give you the key to your favourite locker. The complex opened its doors to its youngest clients yesterday. I make a mental note to ask Alexei during the next class whether he plans to install kid-size lockers. Children should also know that they are taken care of and welcome at the gym.

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Kristina bikes to the Campus every day. This is no exaggeration. She really does work every day of the month, taking a day off once in a blue moon. When I ask how she can bear it, Kristina smiles and says shyly, “I love it!” And we love Kristina right back. Every morning, she serves breakfast, then ladles out borscht for lunch. In the evenings, she switches to catering. Even on weekends, Kristina is here. And she’s always smiling! Served by her kind, optimistic hands, the food tastes better, her smile sweetens any mood.

Of all the student groups on Campus, Kristina’s favourites are the full-time MBA students. “They’re the closest to me in age,” she says, “I made friends with them right away.”

SKOLKOVO is Kristina’s first job, and she jumps at any chance to learn something new. Her optimism, cheerfulness, and readiness to meet every day head on, make her the ideal SKOLKOVO Person. “This is my life,” she explains, “my home.”

And when I get hungry for a more spiritual kind of food, I go down to the ground floor to listen to Shakespeare in his original language. It was Hamlet last week. And The Merry Wives of Windsor last month.

The ground floor is where the cloakroom is. Alexander works in shifts. In the breaks between hanging up people’s coats, he reads English literature. “So I don’t forget it” he explains. From time to time, he does some stretching. For his age, it’s pretty darn good.

Alexander spent the holiday season in a Santa Claus hat – along with his customary suit – to add to the holiday atmosphere, and fit in with the style of the decked-out Campus. Alexander prepares for important delegations ahead of time: he studies the details of each visit to make sure he is ready to answer any question his guests ask. Even in Shakespeare’s native language. He is, after all, the face of the Campus: a responsibility to take seriously.

 

For all of them, the SKOLKOVO Campus is an entire universe: a space they create and build together. Their attitudes to their work and their life, to the school and its philosophy, add the most vivid colours to the portrait of an ideal SKOLKOVO Person.

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  • jaket bayi carter
    23.09.2014, 08:00

    Hello! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a team of volunteers and starting a new initiative
    in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us valuable information to work on. You have
    done a wonderful job!

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  • Francine Cotroneo
    03.02.2015, 10:18

    hey! good article 🙂

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