Eugenia Goh is an international studies major at the University of Denver. She studied for a semester with SRAS in Kyrgyzstan on our Central Asian Studies course before transferring to Moscow to study for another semester on our Russian Studies Abroad course.
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Living and Working in Russia:
By Eugenia Goh Jia Rong
In addition to practical information on how to apply
their new Russian skills and international experience
post-graduation, students also dived into beautiful
and delicious Georgian dishes!
On May 11, 2012, SRAS hosted another successful seminar on the ins and outs of living and working in Russia – and the practical and professional opportunities that a knowledge of Russian and international experience can offer.
Current students had the opportunity to meet with expat professionals and business community leaders in Moscow over a lovely Georgian meal. These speakers discussed and actively answered questions about their personal and professional experiences in Russia. Each represented one of many diverse fields; they shared their rich experiences and wonderful anecdotes – much of which can be said to be unique to the Russian experience. That evening, other topics of discussion included the various visa, housing and work options available, and the business climate and opportunities open to foreigners in Russia.
Chet Bowling, Managing Partner of Alinga Consulting Group, gave a broad overview of the business climate in Russia, which he sees as promising, citing overall country GDP growth rates and industry data. We were given an overview of the personal and corporate tax structures, and the different legally distinct ways for a foreign firm to enter the Russian market.
Erik Anderson of the US Foreign Service talked about the various career tracks within the foreign service as well as the application and assessment process involved.
Josh Wilson, the Assistant Director of SRAS, briefed us on the types of visas available to foreigners, how to find housing and work, and other Russian residency requirements. He and Kim Frankwick, an SRAS intern, also shared their personal experiences from the process of attaining residency status here in Russia. Mrs. Frankwick additionally discussed her current job search in Russia and experience volunteering for various non governmental organizations in Russia.
Cam Blaithwait, an Australian entrepreneur, runs two successful businesses in Moscow - Moscowsuites.ru (a real-estate firm involved in the serviced apartment sector) and The Garage (a nightclub and restaurant) as well as being involved in many other business projects in Russia, from investment to helping Facebook make a successful launch into the Russian market. It was interesting hearing about the path that led him to Moscow, some of the challenges he faces as an entrepreneur and foreign resident of Moscow, and how he balances the running of the businesses and his other professional endeavours.
From the NGO sector, we were joined by Eric Schempp of PH International, who also discussed his personal story and a bit about what he does, which is seek and disperse financing for charities in Russia.
Finally, Elizabeth Bagot, translator and editor at the Russian news agency Interfax, spoke about how she went from studying abroad with SRAS to a landing a full-time job in Russia. Interestingly, she made the contact that led to her first job offer at SRAS's Living and Working in Russia Seminar two years previously!
The evening was full of interesting information and delicious food. We learned from Cam and Chet some of the logistics of getting a new business off the ground in Russia's often complicated regulatory environment. We learned that in some cases, it is both legal and highly recommended to launch a business and start operations before officially registering a company. Only when the idea has proved itself to be successful, should one begin to undertake the official process of setting up a corporate entity in Russia. It served as a reminder that the Russian market operates quite differently from what we expect from the West. While the seemingly lax regulations can be worked to one’s advantage, there are rules and laws to abide by. Cam also emphasized the need to stay on top of changing regulations, and to keep your business clean by getting all necessary forms and approvals, and paying all taxes. This is especially true of foreigners doing business in Russia.
Veteran or newcomer to Russia, nobody is unfamiliar with Russian bureaucracy; the speakers regaled, with wry amusement, stories involving forms, government agencies, inexplicable rules, and countless waiting hours. Yet, everyone made sure to reiterate that despite the initial barriers involved in living and working in Russia, if you decide to commit time, money, and a touch of tenacity, the potential rewards are multi-fold. With that thought, the evening drew to a close, and we parted ways, invigorated by all the possibilities that Russia brings.
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