London Business School’s New Dean Was Once Forced To Flee Vladimir Putin’s Russia

Economist Sergei Guriev has been named the next dean of London Business School. He will take over from Francois Ortalo-Magné at the start of the 2024-25 academic year

London Business School has chosen a new dean: a world-renowned economist and Russian expatriate who fled his home country more than a decade ago after months of an ominously mounting investigation by Vladimir Putin’s police.

Sergei Guriev was named LBS’s next dean on Friday, January 26. He will begin his role, as well as a professorship in economics at the school, at the start of the 2024-2025 academic year. The renowned economist has long been a thought leader in the study of the economics of development and transition economies, LBS says in its announcement, as well as “political economy of populism and autocracy, the role of social media, long-run development and structural transformation, corporate governance and finance.”

Guriev also knows about life under an authoritarian government. He can speak from personal experience about it, having fled the country of his birth in 2013 after a “frightening and humiliating” interrogation.

FLIGHT FROM HOME 

According to contemporary reports in The New York Times and elsewhere, in 2013 Guriev, then in his ninth year as rector of the New Economic School in Moscow, served on a panel of economical experts who critically assessed Russian position in the case of Russian oil giant Yukos. That drew unwanted attention from Russian authorities.

According to a story dated June 3, 2013 in The New Yorker, the authorities’ focus was Guriev’s “participation in a panel of experts that conducted an independent probe of the Mikhail Khodorkovsky affair. Khodorkovsky, once Russia’s richest oil tycoon, was deemed a threat by the Kremlin; he was tried and convicted in 2005 and again in 2010 on charges that included fraud, tax evasion, embezzlement, and money laundering, and has been in jail for over nine years. The panel’s report, issued in December, 2011, confirmed a broadly accepted opinion that Khodorkovsky’s prosecution was unfair and unlawful. This February, authorities began questioning Guriev; he grew increasingly alarmed. In late April, Guriev’s investigator came to his office with a subpoena for several years of personal e-mails. The risk that he’d lose his freedom felt serious enough for him to flee.”

Guriev fled to Paris, where he has remained, serving since 2013 as a professor of economics at L’Institut d’études politiques de Paris (Sciences Po). In 2022, he became the institute’s provost.

LOOKING TO ‘MAKE AN IMPACT ON THE WAY THE WORLD DOES BUSINESS’

Born in Ossetia in 1971 when it was part of the Soviet Union, Guriev is a graduate of the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology who received his Ph.D. in Applied Mathematics from The Russian Academy of Sciences in 1994. Since leaving the New Economic School in 2013, in addition to his work at Sciences Po in Paris, he has been chief economist at the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development, which provides investment funds for countries in Europe, Asia and North Africa to foster their transition towards sustainable market-oriented economies; and authored several books on economics and politics. In 2023 he was a guest lecturer at LBS.

“I am excited, honored and humbled to have been chosen as the new dean of London Business School,” Guriev says in a news release published by LBS. “I admire the institution for its academic excellence, its truly global DNA, and its commitment to diversity and inclusion. I strongly support the school’s mission and values, and am looking forward to working together with LBS’s outstanding team and alumni to make an impact on the way the world does business and the way business impacts the world in the rapidly evolving global environment.”

Guriev succeeds Dean François Ortalo-Magné, who has been in post since August 2017 and who announced in October that he would step down early from his second term. “I am delighted to welcome Sergei Guriev as the tenth dean of London Business School,” Ortalo-Magné says in a news release. “It is a privilege to lead an organization that has had such a profound impact on business and the world, and to engage with all the talented people in our global community. I look forward to working with Professor Guriev as the school transitions to his leadership.”

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