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Nikola about his first two months of the internship at Lighthouse BV

“Russia cannot be understood with the mind alone,
No ordinary yardstick can span her greatness:
She stands alone, unique –
In Russia, one can only believe.”

These are the words of the Russian poet Fedor Tyutchev that I encountered almost a year ago and since that time, they have been stuck in my head. Is this really the case with a country that has thousands of various images in people’s eyes around the world? We have all heard about Russia through many different things: from bears, vodka, babushkas, AK-47 to cold Siberian winters, politics and road rage dash cams. However, is this really Russia, I asked myself? Well, I started searching for the answer two years ago when I chose to study the Post-Soviet Region as a part of my Bachelor of International Studies at Leiden University in The Hague, The Netherlands. After studying the Russian language, politics, economics, culture and history for a year and a half, I have decided to go to Russia to gain working experience and not live in, but live Russia.

During my second study year, I met a gentleman by the name of Jeroen Ketting, a Dutch entrepreneur who has been working and living in Russia for the past 25 years. He is the founder and owner of management company Lighthouse Management Solutions, bulk handling equipment distributor Lighthouse Technologies and training and business coaching company Lighthouse Valuetainment. Jeroen was a guest speaker at one of the seminars organized by my student committee BASIS Eurasia. After a short, but constructive talk with Jeroen, I decided to ask him for the opportunity to do an internship at his company in Moscow. What followed next (after the positive response) is a long and grueling process of arranging documentation, visa, bureaucracy, stay and other challenges which I will leave for another occasion. Thankfully, I have gone through the grinder of the Russian bureaucracy and have safely landed in Russia.

At the moment of writing this blog, it has been already 2 months since I joined Lighthouse. So, how has it been so far, what is the company like, the colleagues and my work?

Lighthouse has recently (Nov. 2017) acquired a Russian distribution company DMN-Vostok that sells mechanical equipment and various components for the handling of dry bulk solid materials such as powders, granules and pellets. Now called Lighthouse Technologies, the company has already surpassed last year’s performance and it continues striving for growth and successful business conduct on the CIS market. My job as an intern (though I must say that I already feel like a full employee) is to help in business development of the company. My tasks are full of variety and mainly consist of the following:

  • Business process improvement (think of operations and making things work better)
  • New website design and development
  • Marketing activities and company reports (social media, PPT presentations)
  • Translation work
  • Market research
  • The list goes on and on…
Having such a variety of tasks brings challenges with it, which I am gladly willing to tackle, push myself and become better. All the more, it becomes easier when you feel that the company trusts you, treats you well and your colleagues are sweethearts. It really is a strong wind in the back. The working atmosphere at Lighthouse can be described as a clan\family environment with strong informal relationships. We regularly celebrate each other’s birthdays, go out together and do other activities such as shashliks at a dacha (Russian weekend house), bowling, pizza parties and more. If there is one benefit of working in a small company, then it is that it feels like a second home with a second family. There is a healthy relationship among the members of Lighthouse, good management by Jeroen and his business partner Svetlana Shishakova, the will to grow and cooperate by everyone. We regularly discuss the planning and delegate the task, with no classical hierarchy and control, but more leniency, independence and trust in each person to do the job.

Having said all the above, what have I learned in the previous 2 months as a member of Lighthouse?

Well, if I name it all, this blog would become a Tolstoy novel in terms of quantity. But to name a few things; the learning curve has been extremely large:

  • I have drastically improved my Russian to the point of being comfortable with speaking
  • PPT/Excel skills + visualization of information à a very important skill to have
  • Website design à still in progress, but I expect to master Word Press.
  • Gained knowledge about various market segments
  • Gained professional experience in working with people and in a company
In general, after the first two months, I can say that my start at Lighthouse was a soft landing. I learned a lot, have met and worked with incredible people. New challenges and adventures await down the road and I am looking forward to experience them as a member of an organization such as Lighthouse.

Nikola Stankovic,
Leiden University. 


      

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