Andrey Shirokov

Executive director of «Russkiy Sever» distillery, MBA-Start 2011 graduate
I started to consider additional business education when I began to hold executive positions and noticed narrowness of my practical knowledge in business operations after 10 years of growing career. Monitoring of MBA programs showed that I had to spend about 2 years and from $10 000 (in elite Russian schools) up to $100 000 (western business schools).

Training can be conducted in three main formats: moving to the place of training (in case education is in European or American schools), that mean long break in your career, which I couldn’t afford; quarterly 1-2 week long educational visiting sessions, which could also impact on my current job and wouldn’t please my employers; or weekly evening classes in strictly defined time, which again is unlikely in case of my working schedule, which includes frequent business trips and high chances to move to another city for a long period. Therefore, options mentioned above didn’t work for me. In addition the price of «classical» variants was a serious problem for me and I didn’t want to risk my investments in education because of possible break in it. «Remote» variants existing back then offered mainly text mailing and combined a set of different courses without integrity or any weight (and it is a part of business education though).

Having studied MBA-start program offers I pointed out 3 main apparent advantages: 1) I could choose wherever I want to study, 2) I could choose whenever I want to study, 3) the price!

In my view, balance of video-lectures and electronic tests appeared to be very effective combination, and I started to study in September 2008 and graduated in April 2011.

Following the results I could tell that all 3 advantages met expectation 100%. The price for the whole course amounting to $ 3000 (in 2008) is absolutely reasonable for the scope of knowledge received and conditions of their delivering. During my study, apart from numerous business trips, I completely changed the place of residence, on-the-job as they say. Time was also very convenient for me. I studied when I was physically and mentally vigorous: sometimes during dinner, sometimes during business trips, sometimes — at night, following best student practice. Besides, owing to the flexible policy of the school it took me a year to write the thesis, exceeding all time limits: one day I was snowed under my work, the other day family circumstances appeared, or there were no ideas for the thesis. Dean’s Office always met me halfway and extended time frames for preparing my thesis. Thanks in particular for that!

Video-lectures are very interesting for the most part. Sometime I listened to them while driving a car. Then I read the text and after that passed the tests. Term papers are of practical nature, a lot of cases. Sure, something was more interesting and came easy to me; something was harder, for example, accounting statements and finances. But I understand that these are integral elements of business operations and this knowledge allowed me to feel more comfortable in my job.

There is permanent (and sometimes obligatory) possibility of virtual communication with fellow students during the study. And management of St. Petersburg’s branch of the school organized meetings of students in real life and invited us to additional lectures and presentations. Therefore, it was possible to meet in person and to establish business connections.

The theme of my thesis was related to the activity of my company. General Director agreed to review my thesis and in the end he gave me a good reference, and also showed respect for my drive for self-improvement. It could be coincidence but simultaneously with obtaining diploma I was appointed as the Head of a new production subdivision of the company — newly purchased distillery. My salary was increased not so much, but that’s just the beginning.

In addition to practical knowledge, one of the main results is victory over my own rigidity of mind and laziness, receiving degree I consider as another confirmation of my own ambitions and high self-esteem! Indeed, learning is light, ignorance is darkness!