MBA at Saint Petersburg University

Luciano Hormazábal – Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile

Field of studies at SPbU: Master at GSOM



I came as an exchange student to the University of St. Petersburg, to finish my MBA. I’ve been here for a month now.

I had already lived in France and the United States, a few months ago I also went to the “Doing Business in China” program, where I had the opportunity to get to know Asia. I chose Russia as a destination because I wanted something different this time, and Russia seemed like an appropriate destination.

In general, the challenges have been few, but it has been difficult for me to adapt to the way of thinking of the people here, which is very different from ours. They have been living in capitalism only for a few years, so there are many things that we would consider “wrong” from our neoliberal economic perspective. An example of this is how in Chile people always try to be as efficient as possible, cutting off all possible costs and managing companies in a very petty way. Here it is very different, many times efficiency is perceived as unfair to employees, and is not the ultimate end when managing certain institutions.

There are many examples of this, the classic one is the immense bureaucracy that exists here. Every little thing must go through a committee and a thousand papers are needed even to make the simplest procedure. Naturally this bureaucracy permeates the lives of all people and one may feel that even in personal relationships you need to meet certain requirements so that they can trust you.

Additionally, I can mention the weather or the language, which for some people could be challenging. I consider it extremely important to speak the language of the country where you are going, my experience here would have been less enrichening if I didn’t speak Russian. I only studied for a couple of months and my level when I arrived was low, although now I can speak well. If I had to go back, I would try to learn more before coming.

Every day I go to the university, I study, and I meet my friends, I walk around this beautiful city and I meet new people. I just bought a philosophy book in Russian, so that will keep me busy for the next few weeks.

Many people have asked me about job opportunities, and that is a very complex issue for which I still do not have an answer. To work here you need to have a working visa, but it is difficult to obtain it. You can only get it if the company has special positions for foreigners and if they can prove that no Russian worker can perform that function.

Additionally, the possibility of opening your own company, for a foreigner, is not so easy either. This is something I am trying to find out, but even the Russians don’t know it very well, because as they have been in capitalism for a few years, the legislation regarding new companies has many gaps and even some contradictions.

Despite how difficult it has been, it has been an unforgettable experience. I remember when I was in Santiago and I talked with my colleagues, many wanted to have their own business, but finally few did. Many wanted to go on an exchange program and finally only a few did. The truth is that the risk is high, for me it had a very high personal cost, but the truth is that it has been worth 100%. If you want to stay in the place that you have always had, with the same family life, and have an average life, it is best to stay where you are now. But if you are willing to take big risks to have even greater returns, I invite you to go to Russia. If you want to develop, you need to leave your comfort zone.

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