In the summer of ’95 six students decided to organize a study trip to St. Petersburg in Russia, as part of the Sviib faculty club. We choose Russia because of a number of rational and business reasons, but the real reason of course was that we wanted to see with our own eyes how this former Soviet empire was finding its way to a capitalist country in its own fashion and with it own type of chaos.
It proved to be a great year of learning, in all aspects. Socially, experiencing co-ordination of a group, group dynamics, coupling the will to make the trip a success with the realities of creating sound deliverables and matching the needs of Dutch businesses. What started to be a trip to Russia, ended in a busy year, organizing two conferences, one in St. Petersburg, and one in Amsterdam, writing a book (“Ancient Links, New Potential”) about the state and expectations of Russia as a business partner, and in numerous contract research for Dutch corporates and SME’s.
At that time Russia was in the midst between communism and the capitalist / totalitarian regime it is today. The curriculum of our business administration studies was clearly focused on market economies, so we had to unlearn some of it to start making sense of what was happening there.
That made it with hindsight a very valuable learning experience, both for ourselfs as for our company sponsors. As an open society, Dutch business people require to utilizise this skill set of pioneering new markets, and thus the ability to really see what is going on with your own eyes to see where the opportunity lies.
All in all I recommend you to work with these smart, open minded, and willful students, to get a better feel for where your opportunities lie abroad, and to contribute to sustain the Netherlands culture as an International trading society.
Christian Rood, Chairman 1996