Nikita Kostrov, a second-year student of the Master in Corporate Finance program (MCF) at the Graduate School of Management of St. Petersburg University (GSOM SPbU) tells about the professional path from physical education to management, the main impressions from studying at the Business school and the Belgian KU Leuven, where he is currently on an exchange.
What was in your life before GSOM SPbU?
Before the GSOM SPbU, I studied at two universities: Lesgaft and ITMO. Initially, I was engaged in alpine skiing and even participated in the World Junior Championships. When the question arose about choosing a university, I didn't think for a long time. But in the second year, minor health problems began, I realized that there were other things that I was interested in trying, and I began to look for options. The choice fell on the management program at ITMO. I entered there and studied at two universities in parallel.
As for my professional life, before joining GSOM SPbU, I worked as an HR specialist in an IT company. This corresponded to my specialization in ITMO management with a focus on personnel management. In my second year, I joined a finance company: finance, first it was an internship at EY audit during the season, then financial consulting at PwC, and now a venture fund.
Why did you decide to choose management?
When I realized that I didn't want to play sports professionally, I started trying different directions. I wanted to enter the corporate world. And management is the most general education necessary for the business sector to understand how everything works, get essential skills, and move on.
Why did you choose the GSOM SPbU and the MCF program?
Why "Corporate Finance"? I understood that I already had a general education; I wanted a specific one to give me more specific skills and abilities. I thought it would be more valuable from a career point of view, and now I can say that I did not lose with the choice. GSOM SPbU is the best business school in Eastern Europe, now with the "triple crown" for sure. And the decisive factors were the community, the level of education, the opportunity to go to international exchange and a large number of events in which you can participate during your studies: The Management of the Future conference, GSOM Family Day and many others, where students act as participants and organizers, this is a wonderful experience. I had a friend who studied at the MCF program and told me a lot. I looked at the information on the website and in groups on social networks. Before admission, I even wanted to get into The Management of the Future as a participant. Still, I did not have time to apply, and a year later, I acted as the organizer of the event – I was on the organizing committee. It turned out to be a cool project.
Now you are on an exchange in Belgium at KU Leuven. Tell us about the choice of university and country.
The Catholic University of Leuven is a great place, it is at the top of European rankings and almost the best university in Belgium. The courses here coincided with the educational track that I chose for myself. Now I can say that the program is excellent and has a high teaching level. But it differs radically from what is in the Graduate School of Management of SPbU. GSOM SPbU focuses on full-time classes, and here is independent study and lectures are an additional functionality. In addition, I was interested in the region itself, I have never been here. Leven is a great place, similar to St. Petersburg in the atmosphere, in culture, small and warm.
International mobility is an important component of Business School programs. Tell me how the exchange goes, how they have you in Belgium?
They were very well welcomed. Everything is done here to make international students feel comfortable: everyone knows English and always meets, helps, even if it is not the responsibility of a particular person. Networking, actions — there is even more of this here than at GSOM SPbU, if only because the university is much larger. Fifteen hundred students a year come here only for exchange. Leven is a student city, and some parties and networking are going on all the time.
Учебная группа Никиты
Are there any restrictions related to covid?
Everyone follows safety measures here. There are more than 90% vaccinated on campus, so there are few restrictions. And even when the number of cases increased at the beginning of the year, they did not enforce stricter measures. As a standard, large gatherings were banned inside the university, while teachers themselves could decide how to conduct online or offline classes. I like that teachers have a lot of freedom, and they have the right to make certain decisions regarding their training courses.
Share your impressions of the MCF program. How much applied knowledge did you get at GSOM SPbU?
The program is changing. There are new exciting lecturers, in particular, David Brown is a lecturer in risk management, it will be fascinating for me to listen to him. And for all the foreign teachers in the first year, I have a perfect review. They gave very interesting material and shared their experience. They were not just people with an academic background; they all came from business. I didn't regret what I did. I regretted that I entered early because the program has become even better this year: a double diploma with the Polish Kozminski University and the opportunity to receive ACCA accreditation. As for the skills — this has already been tested in practice — they are helpful, needed in work, and studying for a master's degree makes sense.
You studied a lot of places, so can you compare what distinguishes GSOM SPbU from other educational institutions?
This is a more united community of students and teachers, you feel like a part of the family. Another important thing for me: foreign teachers and the fact that many professors and lecturers are ready to answer questions and cooperate in studying.
Who and where do you see yourself after graduation?
I plan to develop further in the field of venture business, to make it the main one, the results of my work will only get better from this. I like the projects and tasks that I already have. A big plus to start working as a student is that you understand in advance what direction you want to develop.