After all, that’s where the greatest business growth and opportunities will be in coming decades.
For those of us not lucky enough to have been born in emerging markets like Malaysia, Nigeria or Russia, gaining the skills and experience we’ll need in an increasingly global and emerging-markets-focused business landscape can be a challenge.
Two years ago, when I was 29, I found myself working at a prestigious private bank while the U.S. financial sector and much of the rest of the economy crumbled around me. I looked at my surroundings and realized that if I stayed where I was I wouldn’t be able to develop my skills quickly enough, fail fast enough and win big enough to contribute to the emerging economic order in a meaningful way.
That realization led me to fly halfway around the world to join the founding class of Skolkovo, a new Russian business school focused on redefining the roles of entrepreneurs and business in rapidly developing economies.
What the school loosely marketed as an MBA program is really more of an incubator/boot camp for a new generation of young entrepreneurs who have little fear, are intrinsically global and thrive on uncertainty. If I’m making that sound too sexy, let me add that the first four months of the program are incredibly tough. In fact, I got more sleep when I worked for a start-up investment company in San Francisco than I did as a student at Skolkovo.
The Skolkovo program is designed to give participants the education, experience and professional network they’ll need to succeed in starting and scaling global businesses, with a heavy focus on doing business in emerging markets. It also takes longer and is more rigorous than U.S.-based incubator programs such as Y Combinator and the like, in part because the problems Silicon Valley entrepreneurs face are nothing compared with the corruption, history of mistrust, and underdeveloped infrastructure of many emerging markets.
Skolkovo’s mission is to educate and catalyze entrepreneurs in emerging markets, and many of my classmates went on to start companies in Russia, China and India. Though my decision to move back to San Francisco upon graduation and work for a U.S. startup went against the grain, my education at Skolkovo armed me with new perspectives on, and advantages in, doing business in an increasingly global environment.
Published 20.06.11 at: