Continuing in our series of entrepreneur interviews from around the world, this week we look at the Russian business culture with translation specialist and Russian national, Sergey Rybkin.
What do you see as unique cultural characteristics of Russian people that are reflected in Russia’s business culture?
Historically Russian people have had to develop the vast areas of land in European Russia, Urals and Siberia. This has led to unique cultural characteristics. Russian people grasp for great projects and sometimes underestimate details. They have enough courage for setting the big goals at the expense of meticulous work on specific projects. They are used to working in severe conditions, such as Siberian frosts, and yet ignore home comforts. However, more and more Russian people become familiar with European and American business models. This mostly relates to the younger generation. Today’s Russian graduates and students of overseas and Russian universities will determine the future of Russia’s business culture.
In your opinion, what are Russia’s most competitive industries in world markets?
The most competitive industries in Russia are related to its ample mineral resources and traditionally high educational level. Therefore, they include oil and gas industry, treatment of precious stones and metals, aerospace industry, arms production, atomic industry. The high potential of scientific and technological community enables Russia to develop technological innovations. But the challenge Russia faces is being able to apply new technologies into mass production. The government understands the problem and supports the various modernization initiatives, such as the Skolkovo Innovation Center. The example of successful and competitive Russian industry without government involvement is the information technology industry. The Russia’s programmers are highly recognized on the world markets. The great competitive potential lies in the tourist industry of Russia with its various geographical opportunities, primarily, in the active and ecological tourism.
What is the best way to find potential Russian business contacts?
While Internet very quickly enters the lives of Russian people as means of business communication, personal contacts still play the great role. So the best way to find potential business contacts is to participate in business exhibitions, trade fairs, conferences, seminars and forums. As an example I can mention INNOPROM, the Ural International Exhibition and Forum of Industry and Innovation, which is held every year in my city, Ekaterinburg, and where my colleague translators help the foreign enterprises and entrepreneurs to find potential Russian business contacts.
What do you wish people knew about doing business in Russia before they arrive in country?
Visitors should expect high levels of hospitality of Russian business people. This hospitality is probably highest in smaller cities and towns. Hospitality includes drinking strong alcohol, such as traditional Russian vodka. Be careful and measure your capabilities in corporate parties to develop a truly successful business in Russia.
From your perspective, what’s the business climate like for entrepreneurs (supportive vs. unsupported, culturally accepted profession vs. not accepted, etc.)?
The business climate is still forming in Russia since the Russia’s economy is still in the reforming stage. The centrally planned economy has been transformed to a market-driven economy. However, the bureaucratic hurdles on the way to free enterprise are still strong. Nevertheless the Russian entrepreneurs step by step gain their recognition in the Russian society.
About Sergey Rybkin
Sergey Rybkin is an entrepreneur based in Ekaterinburg, Russia. Mr. Rybkin graduated and worked many years as an engineer and researcher in Ural State Technical University in Ekaterinburg. Starting in 1995, he worked as a translator for a local electro-technical enterprise. And since 2000, Mr. Rybkin has been working as a freelance translator for the clients throughout the world. Today he is also a senior lecturer in translation for Ural Federal University and an active member of Translators Union of Russia.