Dr. Alexey Buditskiy is an Investment Director at Amoo Venture Capital Advisory – a trailblazing boutique firm which supports pre and post-VC technology start-ups with strategic direction and business development. He holds a PhD in Behavioral Economics from the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation and an MBA in Finance from Durham University Business School. Alexey has extensive international experience in finance, research and consultancy across different sectors with leading financial institutions in OECD and Emerging Markets countries.

Why did you decide to pursue an MBA?

As a PhD student at the Financial University under the Government of the Russian Federation I decided to enter the national grant competition. I was lucky to be one of 100 students in Russia to win the Presidential Scholarship which allowed me to choose a one year degree programme anywhere in the world. Before that I spent more than three years in corporate and investment banking at one of the leading financial institutions in Russia – Bank of Moscow (which is now part of the VTB Group). Given my managerial experience and strong academic background, another MSc degree or PhD exchange course would not make much sense. Apart from that, the UK is quite well known for its intensive one-year MBAs. Therefore, I thought that a UK MBA was an ideal choice to me both in terms the requirements of the grant and future professional development.

What were the most important aspects you considered when choosing an MBA course?

The most important aspect was the academic requirements of the programme. I believed that this could be achieved if a school belongs to a university with strong heritage and reputation. If you select a school with a low academic profile it could definitely affect the quality of your teaching. I was also interested in schools which have at least two accreditations from international bodies (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business – AACSB, European Quality Improvement System – EQUIS and the Association of MBAs – AMBA).

As the next step I paid attention to the content of modules and diversity of the cohort. Although I considered business school rankings such as FT and The Economist as part of the criteria, I did not think that they were reliable due to their high volatility and biased methodology.

What was the most difficult part in getting the MBA?

I reckon that the most difficult part was improving my time management skills. The Durham MBA is very demanding in terms of its academic requirements, so to meet them you need to plan your activities very efficiently. If you fail to do so, you will not enjoy the time spent during the year.

What was your goal and how will the MBA help you achieve it?

It is difficult to say now what the goal was when I started my MBA. Probably it was a desire for a change in both personal and professional arenas. From this angle, I achieved my goals. I changed my country of residence and moved from banking into venture capital and entrepreneurship. I also managed to acquire a significant number of international friends and business contacts who helped me to be more proactive in this globalised world.

What was your most valuable experience during the programme?

From the whole MBA I especially appreciated the opportunity to work and live in a diverse multicultural environment. Apart from participating in study groups and business projects, MBA students were encourage to all live in one building next to the business school. You can imagine over 30 nationalities living together! I think this multicultural exposure really helped me to open several horizons and look at myself from a different perspective. If you are coming from a monoculture or conservative background such as Russian one, it is essential to adjust your business and personal behavior so it will be more acceptable to the international community.

How would you describe the learning environment at Durham University Business School?

The learningenvironment at Durham University Business School was very friendly. Durham staff consider the MBA to be the flagship programme. As a result, every student is treated with proper care. As far as I am concerned there are only a few business schools who apply a personalised approach to an MBA student. If the class is bigger than 100-150 people, it is difficult to have a similar atmosphere. Apart from that I was impressed with quality of teaching and soft skills training at Durham.