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The goal of Project 5-100 is to maximize the competitive position of a group of leading Russian universities in the global research and education market.

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Business Professionals to Add to Project 5-100 Universities Staffing Pool

July 2, 2015

On 30 June, the University Club 5-100 met for the first time. The University Club is a new program launched by the Project Office for the purpose of developing an external managerial pool for universities.

Elena Chernyshkova (Deputy Executive Director, Project Office) opened and announced the latest results of Project 5-100. She spoke about the current lack of competent managers in several areas which are essential for the universities’ future success (information systems and databases, HR, PR and branding, commercialization of research, and fundraising). As a matter of fact, it is the present dearth of external expertise and involvement of competent top managers that motivated Project management to set up this Club. Chernyshkova has promised Russian businessmen, “We are going to create a comfortable and stimulating environment and format for your cooperation with universities. The universities will have the opportunity to learn about your vision and experience and to discuss their most pressing problems with you; while you, on the other hand, will have the chance to learn more about the universities.”

Having noted that a reform of the managerial/governance system is one of the most important goals of the Project, Chernyshkova warned: “It is hard for the universities to accept an outsider from the business world”. Other speakers at the meeting also spoke about the challenges faced by managers in universities. “Universities usually have functional line managers who come from the same branch of science”, said Yulia Grinkevich (Director for Internationalization at HSE). She added that in a traditional university system, management is undervalued because often university managers are regarded as people who are doing this job only because they failed in their academic career.

This was confirmed by Sergei Pavlenko (Board member at PMCG) who has considerable experience in education: “If both inside and outside a university the management function is considered to be worthless or is entirely ignored, it means that this organization willingly deprives itself of approximately 95% of the tools required for future success”. To make matters worse --according to Anton Lopukhin (Acting Provost for Strategic Development, Russian State Social University) - the business processes suggested or implemented by management in universities often become mere formalities and have no real value.

Yulia Selyukova (Head of University Marketing and Development, Project Office 5-100) noted a key factor of university management: “The biggest difference between universities and corporations, for example, industrial companies, is that the stakeholders (professors, employees, students, donors, employers) usually come with a high intellectual level. These people cannot be managed within a framework of rigid functions. It is essential for all of these groups to be aware of and to share the mission and strategy of the organization. Therefore we can -- and must -- build value-based management; a university is a very emotional environment, an emotional brand, where it is important for people to share the same values”.

Anna Chernova (Head of HR of the School of Law, Lomonosov Moscow State University) gave an example of the building of an effective management system: “Regardless of what KPI system you create, you must have people who are capable of performing”, she said. According to Chernova, during the process of assembling the current strong administrative team almost 90% of the employees were replaced.

Considering the specific nature of a university environment, the speakers advised business people to start their cooperation with universities as advisors to rectors, or as consultants, or as members of supervisory boards, so that first they can gain experience and, perhaps even more importantly, the trust of their university colleagues and thus earn their positions of being true team members.

The meeting concluded with a discussion of the future activities of the University Club 5-100. Regular meetings, seminars and theme sessions are set to be organized. In addition to that, Club members have already received invitations to attend various events at HSE, TSU and UrFU.

Participants in the meeting share their impressions:

Anna Chernova (Head of HR, School of Law, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Club expert): “The first meeting was very fruitful. At minimum, we managed to speak about the main problems faced by Project 5-100 universities and share our experience of work in universities: what challenges – and often their subtle nuances --we are dealing with. It was useful, I think, to be able to share our opinions on these matters”.

Olga Vechtomova (HR Director, RosAtom Overseas): “I think it’s a great format: you have an opportunity to listen to your colleagues and share both your mutual and different realms of experience. I think that this format and the plans presented by Elena Chernyshkova will be valuable for the Project. As an HR Director, I am excited about the development of education in the country, the HR potential, and the opportunity to mold our future job candidates. I might further add that, as a mother and citizen of Russia… someone who lives here – I’m excited about the opportunity to shape the future of my children in such a positive way”.

Mikhail Kuznetsov (Executive Director, Association of Corporate Director and Managers, member of the Supervisory Board of OJSC Moscow Credit Bank): “It is important that this is a gathering of people who care, who really want to add something new to the university environment and to stimulate positive changes. I really want to help the Club and the entire 5-100 movement. I think that in time --when we get to practical tasks and priorities-- each one of us will begin to view ourselves as being in a definable relationship with a specific university or at least involved in a certain kind of cooperative process with that university. The first step has been taken”.