Russians get down to business
Students from Moscow State engage faculty, executives during NU program
How do Russian and American businesses compare?
"Same models and tools, but different interpretation," said Russian business student Victoria Psaryova.
The 20-year-old Moscow State University undergraduate joined 24 of her colleagues and their teachers at Northeastern for a two-week High Technology Business Course that combined class work with tours of area businesses.
Business professors Daniel McCarthy and Sheila Puffer organized the course, with help from other College of Business Administration faculty and staff.
The course, which ended Thursday night with a dinner at the Faculty Center, marked the first of what is hoped will be ongoing exchanges with the Russian university, according to professor Oleg Vikhanskiy, dean of MSU's school of business administration.
"The program, which took almost six months to prepare, consists of classroom instruction, visits to Boston-based companies and business trade associations, and extensive cultural excursions," Vikhanskiy wrote in an e-mail.
"After discussing cases in the class, students went to companies and met with main characters from the cases," he wrote. "It serves as a bridge between academic programs and applications — real business practices — and, I believe, gives a lot of inspiration and motivation for future achievements."
The group visited Charles River Labs, Clean Harbors, Evergreen Solar and IBM Software, all of which have executives with an alumni or faculty relationship to Northeastern, noted McCarthy. They also attended a conference of the US-Russia Business Council of New England, a group with which McCarthy and Puffer are affiliated, and met with faculty and administrators at Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Northeasterrfs signature melding of academic and practical experience drew praise from the students as well.
"What really impressed us most is a sophisticated combination of theory and a practical part presented in each lecture," said Natalia Zaytseva. It was a great pleasure to be educated by professors who are constantly involved in business activity and moreover run their own companies."
The students "all spoke English very well," said Puffer, "and many of them were very effective in participating in our case discussions."
Vikhanskiy, who taught at Northeastern in 1992, pointed out that the students — most of them in the United States for the first time — weren't in Boston merely to work.
"The cultural part of the program can't be overestimated," he wrote. The students, who stayed in university housing on Columbus Avenue, had "a unique chance to learn the culture of this country and to experience the American style of life. And I am happy that they did it in Boston, a town with a rich history, great people and a multinational quarter-million-student community.
"We are especially happy to have been here on July 4, the most impressive and important American national holiday," he wrote.
Psaryova called America "a hospitable country," and fellow student Zaytseva said Northeastern gave her group "a warm welcoming."
Puffer and McCarthy, who have worked for years with Moscow State University faculty, said MSU professor Alexander Naumov — who has also taught at Northeastern, and who coauthored a book with Puffer — proposed the program earlier in the year.
But Northeastern has had a formal partnership agreement with MSU since 1990, Puffer said, and even earlier than that, Vikhanskiy and Naumov, the associate dean, created MSU's business school by modeling it on Northeastern.
Several Northeastern journalism students attended classes at MSU in 1990, and over the years four MSU students have earned their master's degrees in business administration at Northeastern.
"The main obstacle" to more exchanges "has been that not many of our students speak Russian," said Puffer. "But we're looking into possibilities."
McCarthy said business Dean Thomas Moore will soon go to MSU, and "expects that there will be more collaboration beyond what we've done personally. ... He's pretty aggressive to expand our international initiatives."
The professors praised the help of Carolyn Boviard in the office for corporate programs at the College of Business Administration, and M.B.A. student Margarita Hunter, a Russian native who worked with the visiting students.