Russia’s Premier Business School: Ready For ‘The Next Level’

Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO

When Yuri Levin took over as dean of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO in late 2020, he offered a vision: “MSM will become one of the leading educational institutions providing training for a successful career in the digital future.” Less than a year into the job, Levin is making good on that promise.

One of the leading business schools across Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States that includes much of the former USSR, MSM SKOLKOVO announced on Saturday (September 18) the launch of its new 10-year strategy to coincide with the business school’s 15th anniversary. The three-pronged strategy includes a plan to hire more than 30 international business professors over the next 10 years.

“It’s been extremely busy,” says Levin, a professor of management analytics at Queen’s University Smith School of Business in Canada, of his first year on the job in Russia. “But at the same time, it’s been rewarding. Not for a minute have I regretted my decision to join the school. It’s a welcoming country, it’s a welcoming school. And we have many ambitious plans.


Yuri Levin. Courtesy photo

SKOLKOVO is a joint project of Russian and international business. Founded in 2006 and financed by private investors, the school does not use any public funds. The school’s priorities are defined by the agenda of business transformation, fast-moving economies and innovative educational models. SKOLKOVO offers management education programs and leads research projects aimed at fostering “better understanding between Russia and the world.”

SKOLKOVO has more than 3,300 graduates of its degree programs — MBA, EMBA, and HKUST-SKOLKOVO EMBA for Eurasia — and entrepreneurial programs: Practicum, Global SHIFT, and Startup Academy. Those numbers are dwarfed, however, by more than 34,000 graduates of its executive education programs for public and private sectors.

“We are changing the format of our MBA program,” Levin says. “In addition to general management, participants will be able to specialize in one of the School’s three focus areas: digital transformation, sustainability, and social innovation — the hallmarks of modern graduate business education. The school is also launching several new programs including Master in Management Analytics, Master in Sustainability Management and Master in Social Innovation on top of the traditional MBA. The goal is to prepare functional leaders with deep understanding in these key areas.”


MSM SKOLKOVO’s flagship EMBA and MBA programs have seen record enrollment in 2020-21. SKOLKOVO Executive Education programs, ranked number one in Eastern Europe by The Financial Times in 2020, grew by 20% despite the COVID-19 pandemic. MOOVE — a joint program of SKOLKOVO & MTS, a Russian mobile company — is in high demand among STEM graduates.

No wonder the school is planning to hire — and in some cases lure — a small army of new professors over the next decade. Under Levin’s plan, new profs would make up 30% of all the school’s teaching staff by the year 2025, and 50% by the year 2031.

“The school has accomplished a lot and is now ready to move to the next level,” he says.

In fact, Levin says, the new faculty hiring at MSM has already begun..

“We’ve just hired five new faculty members in the areas of sustainability, digital transformation and analytics from the top global business schools,” says Levin, who earned his Ph.D. in Operations Research from Rutgers University in 2001 and was named to Poets&Quants‘ 2016 40-under-40 list when he was a professor at Queen’s in Ontario. “For the first 15 years, the school used what I would call a brokerage faculty model, like that of Duke CE. To build research, we need a solid base of full-time faculty in the focus areas, so in the future our model will combine resident full-time and visiting faculty from global business schools.”

With its new hires, SKOLKOVO is constructing the first pillar of its three-part strategic plan: intellectual leadership in digital transformation and sustainable development — in Russia and beyond.


SKOLKOVO has two other strategic goals for the next decade. First, it seeks to become fully “customer-centric” by offering life-long learning solutions, which means “increasing satisfaction of students covering their full education life-cycle” and “becoming a platform for talented people that supports diversity and contributes to their success.”

Second, the school aims to combine sustainability, growth, and experimentation and “become a leading Russian provider of technology-enabled education in management and business.”

The school is seeking to achieve 3.5 times growth in earnings to reach $200 million by 2024. Can SKOLKOVO generate that much revenue?

“Our revenue increased by more than 20% in the pandemic year,” Levin says, adding that for the last 10 years the school has been in the black. “For the current year, we have an ambitious target to grow by 35% and we’re progressing really well so far.”

See the next page for a Q&A with Yuri Levin, rector of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO, edited for length and clarity.

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