International College of Economics and Finance

ICEF held the Anti-conference. You heard that right.

Once a year ICEF finds time to host reporters on all kinds of unscientific topics. The 2017 graduates (the year ICEF had its anniversary) meet at the New Year holiday gathering called “Unconference”, where they take the floor to talk on what is essential but outrageously unacademic.Who presented at Anticonference-2019? What was special about the programme? What did our graduates convey to us? We go ahead.

ICEF held the Anti-conference. You heard that right.

A million-dollar idea free of charge.

Potentially, that Unconference format will be the face of HSE University for the world soft-skills community (soft skills as we know are now advancing to the level of fundamental knowledge), but for now this is a humble know-how of ICEF graduates.

The format of Unconference was concocted exactly by the institute graduates to escape from the drag of an ordinary annual gathering of students and professors. Moreover, when their alma mater celebrated its 20 anniversary. They solved complicated cases, studied in English, took double-degree exams – that all not for nothing! And it is why they literally survived in ICEF – to not take the beaten track. For this graduates meet each other close to the New Year fir tree, their professors and ICEF executives, and run a festive stand-up powered by various talks. They take the floor to tell about their success, discoveries, professional and daily lifehacks. Throughout studying at HSE, working in banks and world biggest companies our graduates grew tired of academic presenting (professors do share their pain), that’s why an Unconference is a chance to speak on various kinds of unscientific issues in a laid-back fashion, nevertheless as vital as scientific ones.

Unprogram 2019

Every year the content of the Unconference program produces plenty of insights, mainly professional, of course. Our graduates frequently change their carrier paths, which is remarkable by itself, and also proves that flexibility is one of the key skills for a modern specialist. “When people ask me what I want to be in 10 years time – I usually say I have no idea, and this is my favorite question, because nowadays it is normal to have no idea about that” – Anna Simakova told us, who is a head of one of the development departments at Yandex.Taxi and she as no one understands – technologies constantly shape our industries, where it is virtually impossible to stake oneself in one’s competencies once and for ever.


graduates took part in the event

This year 10 graduates have come up with unpapers, and the sponsor of the event became UniCredit Bank. It should be said that not only casual speeches like “the story of my success” were spoken, but instead brilliant presentations of the Unconference participants – each with their unique logical composition, even moral idea or at least a problematic question risen up.

Each participant chooses this or that topic which touches him personally – it can be professional problematique, an event taken from a news agenda, a business-insight or even an intimate or “just” a humane discovery which changed his life. Speakers were given 15 minutes to present and then they battled the questions from the audience. Certainly, all the “unpresenters” are ready to communicate and ready to share their wisdom after the event with students and those who couldn’t attend the event.

An intriguing addition to the program this year became an excursion for all the graduates through the new HSE campus, where they didn’t have the opportunity to study, but to which they could have a permanent pass. This was an impressing discovery with 13 historical buildings of XVIII-XXI centuries, which now are linked with the three atriums of the Pokrovka campus.

The visit to the library became the final act and the quest “try finding the man with the book” turned out to be so addictive, that they nearly were late to the second part of the unpapers session. Of course, after the official part of the unconference was over, all the participants were treated to the banquet, networking and a holiday party.

Essential from the Unconference speakers

1. On media prominence of a brand: 

ICEF has super great Instagram and discovering any product happens only online – develop the social networks of your business/word of mouth still works as an option for a PR-strategy (Alyona Gladilina, business developer).

2. On expo role for B2B:

People still perceive the product sensually – that is why do take part in exhibitions and forums to introduce the product to your consumer offline (Ivan Nikolsky, Exponic director).

3. How to study effectively:

The best format to get educated is audio, because it does not limit us in any way/you should be more aware of your cognitive biases to take more independent and up-to-date decisions (Yegor Krivosheya, the executive of research branch in the Centre for Research in Financial Technologies and Digital Economy SKOLKOVO-NES).

4. On eco-hype:

Ecology is a new popular topic of eco-investors, soon to be hyped in business-culture, Greta Turnberg is not just an upstart, but a smart girl, who sued the five countries which did not comply with the requirements of a Kioto protocole (Vasily Storozhuk, financial director of UGMK-holding, the Chairman of the board of directors of the Bank “Koltso Urala” (Ural Ring)”.

5. How to hire and get hired better:

Igor Goncharenko and me, we would not create the project if he didn’t happen to be my scientific director at ICEF/ hiring managers experience the same pang as do recruits – is it not better to automatize the process at the expense of a better selection?/ can we develop our “carrier tree” without the SkillRank platform and do without a fortune teller while planning a path to move on and which competencies to develop to in order to better pave your carrier (Anton Vekhov, the founder of the project “carrier platform” SkillRank).

6. On happiness and money:

We all love the impression from the purchase more than the product itself/it is better to ration consumption in order to stop the enjoyment from transforming into addiction/ better buy money – it is more valuable than things/ invest into others (Igor Spiridonov, analytic at BKS Bank, ICEF professor).

7. How to move to finance sector from IT:

It is necessary to combine knowledge from different areas – only this can provide unconventional work/ nowadays flexibility – is the key skill for HR of the top companies/ it is not time to be afraid to change the sphere of activity/ cure your impostor syndrome (Anna Simakova, the agile development branch executive at Yandex.Taxi).

8. How to make your business international:

Before you enter the Asian market, scrutinize local business etiquette/ Russian people work better than American and European, but worse than Chinese (Mikhail Pakhomov, founder of Cosmodrome Games).

9. How to survive in the generation Z world: 

Be spontaneous, unique, different, break the traditional patterns of beauty, be ironic about brands, be socially active, ecological both offline and online (Alina Myalo, the founder of educative project IES Evening School at ICEF).

10. On the concept of story-telling:

A structured material by itself does not mean that it is going to be accepted well/ stories are prone to stay in people’s memory 7 times better than facts, because they are permeated with emotions and activate the limbic system/presentations can be diluted with narrative element (Valentina Vorozheikina, the Changellenge analytist).