'We Welcome Students with Different Backgrounds If They Are Willing to Work Hard and Try New Things'
Associate Professor Svetlana Krivokhizh, one of the founders of the Master's Programme 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia', discusses the reasons for launching the Programme, the success of the programme's first graduating class, and the requirements for programme applicants.
The Master's programme 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia' was launched at HSE — Saint Petersburg in 2017. Now, in 2020, 6 months after the graduation of our first cohort, we can take stock of our programme's first years, celebrate the sucesses of our first graduates, and share our plans for future. Today we discuss these and other related topics with Associate Professor Svetlana Krivokhizh. Professor Krivokhizh was one of the Programme founders and helped it develop from an academic concept into a full-fledged programme, and she continues to influence its future development.
2nd year student Daria Vorobieva Svetlana interviewed Professor Krivokhizh about the rationale behind the programme and its future challenges.
– Prof. Krivokhizh, what was the rationale behind the development of the 'Business and Politics in Modern Asia' programme? Why do you think the launch of this programme in 2017 was timely?
– I think the timing was perfect. Asia is on the rise and we are in need of specialists that will be able to work with Asian countries in different fields – business, culture, science, and so on. The programme is aimed at giving all the necessary training and knowledge to people who want to professionally engage with Asia now and in the future.
– How would you evaluate the programme so far? Have you managed to achieve the goal you (and the staff behind the programme) set initially?
– The idea was to build a programme that would combine theoretical courses on Asian culture and politics with practical courses on business, negotiations, and so on. These two components are closely connected and good specialists should know not only how to check the reliability of a business partner but also when it is appropriate to quote Confucius. I can say that I am quite satisfied with the results — we have built a strong team of professors that are working hard to make this programme useful for the students and we have received good feedback.
– What was the main challenge(s) when developing the programme’s concept and curriculum?
– The main challenge was developing the concept from scratch – there are not many programmes like this in the world that we could use as models or get advice from, so we are kind of pioneers here. Of course it was not perfect from the start, but we improve the curriculum every year using our experience, student feedback, and advice from experts both in business and Asian and African studies.
– What kinds of students did you envision enrolling in your programme? Did the real students meet those expectations? Is there anything that surprised you or your colleagues about the students who have been joining the programme?
– We welcome students with different backgrounds. It is not necessary to have bachelor’s degree in Asian and African studies to enroll to the programme; it is much more important to be ready to work hard and have the courage to try new things. The biggest surprise for me and my colleagues has been that the students are very flexible and goal-oriented – that is why we have instances of students coming into the programme with a background in social sciences and then going into business when they graduate from the programme.
– In your opinion, who are the main 'customers' of your programme? Where do programme graduates go on to pursue careers (organizations, state and private companies, local and federal authorities, etc.)?
– Most of the students are interested in getting jobs in the business sphere and our programme gives them all the necessary skills for that. But at the same time students can choose their focus of study over the course of the programme, and that helps to develop those skills that are needed to receive jobs in other fields, such as academia.
– Have you received any feedback from employers regarding the quality of the programme’s graduates? If yes, what was the feedback? What are the channels through which you communicate with employers? Can employers participate in or influence the development of the programme curriculum?
– We had our first cohort graduate last year (2019), so it is a bit early for feedback, but I can say that 50% of our students get their job during the programme, because of networking and internships.
– Are there plans to introduce any significant changes to the programme or its curriculum in the near future?
– Yes, we have a few great plans for the programme, such as developing a double-degree option in collaboration with a foreign university, but I will let that remain a secret for now.
– Thanks a lot for the interview!
We thank Daria Vorobieva for conducting this interview.