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Alexey Beltyukov has worn many hats in his adult life; he has been a medical doctor, a schoolteacher, an international businessman, a consultant, and a philanthropist. More than anything else, though, he sees himself as an entrepreneur. He is fiercely devoted to the ideals of entrepreneurship—of innovation, independence, and leadership. He is passionate about fostering an entrepreneurial culture in his native Russia—and he is currently doing exactly that, through his position at the Skolkovo Foundation.
The Skolkovo Foundation was launched as a kind of joint venture between Russia’s government and various private organizations. The goal from the beginning was to cultivate a Russia in which innovation is encouraged and business ownership is welcomed. Beltyukov was drawn to the organization because he truly believes in its vision of economic progress. He also longs to provide young Russian business starters with the kinds of opportunities that he never had when he was a young man.
The Skolkovo Foundation offers business consultation, access to research infrastructure but also tax breaks and grants. To date, it has received several thousand applications. Alexey Beltyukov and his team have set up a corruption-free, totally transparent review process to go over these applications—and they have awarded grants to a few hundred companies already.
The foundation is still accepting applications from promising, forward-thinking business owners across Russia.
Alexey Beltyukov has lived a life that is nothing if not varied. He has been a doctor, a schoolteacher, a salesman, and an international business executive. Today, he is one of Russia’s business leaders and consultants—no small feat, given that, when he was born, the nation effectively criminalized entrepreneurship!
According to Alexey Beltyukov, the Soviet Union made it a crime to pursue independent business ownership—so to men of his generation, entrepreneurship is somewhat foreign. Yet, when the Soviet Union collapsed, it brought with it a whole new era for Russia—one in which entrepreneurship was not only allowed, but also actively encouraged. Many Russians began to experience their own version of the American Dream—a kind of a Russian Dream, from which Beltyukov himself was far from immune.
It was not an easy or a straightforward path, however. Alexey comes from humble origins; he was born into a fairly modest place in Russia, and in his early years his great aspiration was to become a medical doctor. He did eventually complete his medial training and become a physician, but when the Soviet Union collapsed, his true dream became business ownership.
He pursued this dream down several different avenues. Alexey Beltyukov, a.k.a. Алексей Бельтюков, launched several different companies, of different kinds, seeking to learn the tools and strategies of small business ownership along the way. He sold products on the streets. He launched a translation company. Through all of this, he continued to work at medicine, and he even served as a teacher for a short span of time. All of these diverse experiences shaped him, gave him the expertise necessary to become an empathetic and open-minded business consultant later in life.
Eventually, opportunity knocked, and it led Beltyukov to pack up his family and move them to Moscow. There, he spent two years working as the marketing coordinator for a Dutch drug company, gaining new responsibilities and learning new talents as he went on. He launched a new group of drug products—successfully—and trained some of his colleagues to take over for him. Beltyukov then left the company for bigger and better things.
While working at his marketing job, Alexey Beltyukov took the time he needed to pursue the expansion of his formal education. He earned his MBA from a French business school—ranked, at the time, as the leading business school in the world. Before he was able to enroll in classes, he had to teach himself to speak French—which he did, with his wife, over the course of one year!
When school was completed, Alexey Beltyukov began working for McKinsey, serving as an associate in the company’s transportation, oil, gas, and metals and mining practices. He rose through the ranks, becoming a manager and receiving the offer of a junior partnership. He turned this down to pursue other interests, but not before achieving much with McKinsey. In fact, working in Russia, Norway and the United States, he was involved in such projects as:
- He authored the most successful and comprehensive rail reform document in Russian history, leading to greatly improved standards of efficiency.
- He participated in a prestigious global policy think tank.
- He developed a corporate M&A strategy that ended up proving lucrative.
From there, Alexey Beltyukov grew disinterested with working for others, and decided to launch some new businesses of his own. One of these companies was A-Ventures, which sought to turn distressed businesses into profitable ones.
Today he contributes to the success of the Skolkovo Foundation. Though he still has several business interests, his position at Skolkovo is arguably the thing about which he is most passionate. It is at Skolkovo that Alexey, a.k.a. Алексей Бельтюков, says he is able to give to young entrepreneurs the kinds of opportunities he never had for himself.
What does the future of Alexey Beltyukov hold? Of course, no man can predict his own future with any great certainty. What he can do is set goals, and Beltyukov has many of them—goals for his own life, for the Skolkovo Foundation, and for the Russian economy more generally.
In many ways, his future plans can be summarized in this way: He wants to keep doing what he is doing, spreading his business know-how and providing like-minded entrepreneurs and business owners with guidance. That is to say, he has every intention of continuing his work at the Skolkovo Foundation.
He hopes that the Skolkovo Foundation continues to flourish, and to attract interest from business leaders across Russia. Already it has received grant requests from several thousand businesses, and it has awarded funds to hundreds of them. Beltyukov hopes that many more worthy companies apply, and that plenty of funds can be handed out!
Finally, Beltyukov hopes that all of these efforts have their ultimate, intended effect—namely, to bring about a more economically healthy and robust Russia. Right now, the nation’s economy is flailing, and many economic forecasts seem grim. With that said, Beltyukov believes that an increase in entrepreneurial activity can help the nation recover. This is what Skolkovo is all about.
The bottom line for Alexey Beltyukov is that he hopes he can continue to be a passionate spokesman for the entrepreneurial spirit in Russia, for a long time to come!
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