GSOM 2025 (English version)

“The transformation of business education is already a necessity today": interview with Anastasia Mikhalina

On February 19, 2020, the second meeting of the Strategy Commission under the GSOM SPbU Advisory Board took place in Moscow. The meeting was attended by representatives of the School's administration, faculty and partners of the School. We spoke with member of the Strategy Commission Anastasia A. Mikhalina, Director of Recruitment and Brand Development for the L’OREAL Employer Brand. Anastasia Mikhalina described what distinguishes the alumni of business schools from the alumni of other universities, what competencies a business expects from futurepotential employees, and what development prospects, in her opinion, can be strengthened by a business education and in particular, one from a school such as GSOM.

Is business education transformation a trend or a necessity?

The transformation of business education is already a necessity today. Education should be based on the needs of business, and ideally, on those of the world to come. In business, we are talking about the need for digital transformation: today specialists may not have a wide range of knowledge, but they must be able to quickly look for ways to solve problems and use new digital tools. It is not so important what the specialist knows or does not know, since the necessary knowledge can be obtained quickly, but it matters how he or she uses this knowledge to solve the problems that the university, business, or a system face.

Do business school alumni have knowledge, skills and competencies relevant for work in business?

If we talk about the alumni of business schools, they have the necessary knowledge: adaptive thinking, the ability to speak different languages with different audiences, and to solve non-standard tasks.

What competencies will business school alumni have to have in the near future in order to be in demand in the labor market?

One of the most important competencies, in my opinion, is the ability to quickly learn and relearn, as the present-day reality of business quickly becomes obsolete. Of course, it all depends on the specifics of the company. In one case, the situation might be changing very quickly, somewhere else — a little slower. At the same time, it is important not only to learn and relearn, but also to be able to change the surrounding structure, that is, to become an agent of change. Also very important are empathy and soft skills. When specialists understand what is happening around them, when they can see reality as it is, and know how to read the changes taking place, then they can quickly respond to them and offer constructive solutions.

How do you see the prospects for the development of business education in Russia? Which way will the changes go?

Russia has a very independent non-trivial way of developing business: a large industry sector, a difficult banking sector, and many other interesting industries with a unique context. Therefore, a business education must work with local, specific contexts and respond to their needs and requests. In Russian business schools, students receive knowledge based on Russian reality, they listen to the lectures of local business leaders, with real cases, actual success stories and failures that have occurred in Russia.

You have been familiar with GSOM for many years, do you see the potential in the School that will allow it to become an innovator in business education?

I believe that Olga Dergunova, Director of GSOM SPbU, has launched an important initiative: meeting with Advisory Board members, using external intellectual and entrepreneurial resources, taking into account the needs of companies and others. All this is absolutely correct. To build a high-quality process, you need to understand the needs and requests from all market representatives, and evaluate where and when the School is able to meet them, , and when it is already fully prepared to meet them. Having done all this, GSOM will become a more successful, competitive educational organization.