“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:
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: