International College of Economics and Finance

"Becoming a University Student Elevates to a New Level of Awareness"

"Becoming a University Student Elevates to a New Level of Awareness"

Georgy Brutyan joined Otkritie Bank as a strategic analyst in 2018 when the bank was experiencing fundamental changes. Currently its Managing Director for Strategy and Business Development, Georgy leads the projects to enhance the achieved structural change. In the interview with Success Builder, Georgy reveals where students can improve their practical skills, why time management is key to career success, and why an MBA is necessary for being a good manager.

How did you get into ICEF?

As a prize-winner in the National Economic Olympiad, I was eligible for a wide range of economics faculties. The first reason why I chose ICEF was its language of instruction, English, and the system of the London School of Economics. Compared to other faculties within HSE, ICEF opened up good prospects for receiving international education and starting a career in Russia or abroad.

Besides, I had been planning to do a master’s abroad, and in this sense ICEF gave a very high chance of success. I was very satisfied from my first days here. The teachers from across the world, the rigorous course load, the demanding assessment criteria – everything promised my diploma a high level of recognition. The broad education for career flexibility was exactly what I found here.

How did becoming a student of HSE change you personally and in terms of career choice?

I think it was at school when I became aware of what I wanted to do professionally and where to invest my time and energy. My interests lay in mathematics and economics. At HSE, my career choice took shape quite early. Becoming a university student elevates you to a new level of awareness where you start growing your goals and environment.

My life had changed a lot after I became a student, true. Classes finished at 6 p.m. instead of 2 p.m., and there were on-campus activities to join, particularly, case championships – a great way to gain insight into the applied side of knowledge. Case championships often come with internships and teamwork experience. They allow their teams to develop projects using tested tools, preparing them for real-life industry challenges and giving access to large companies.

About Georgy:

Georgy earned his bachelor’s from HSE ICEF in 2018. While a student, Georgy did an internship at Sanofi Pasteur and started a job as a product manager at Raiffeisen Bank. After obtaining his diploma in 2018, Georgy joined Otkritie Bank as a strategic analyst. He spent the following year of his career as a product manager at Sberbank and then joined back within Otkritie into the role of Managing Director for Strategy and Business Development.

Now, when hiring candidates to Otkritie, I look if their portfolios mention similar activities. Participation in case championships is a sign for me that the candidate is a career-oriented person and has been motivated enough to grow.

Where else can students source practical experience?

A lot is being done within HSE to increase students’ practical experience. One example is groupwork taking the form of courses and workshops led by companies and practicing businessmen. More and more companies are visiting the campus to host practice-oriented classes. For example, Otkritie hosts on-site projects where students can experience real-life work situations and meet our employees. I like how this cooperation benefits both universities and companies. Now only does it give students the idea of work ethics and real-life tasks, it gives them strengths to include in their resumes. Besides, students themselves should never miss the opportunity to meet industries, which actually is not the case with HSE students.

Now that you yourself are an employer, how do you feel about HSE graduates as job candidates?

For me, an HSE diploma is an asset – and someone with diploma from my alma mater is often a preferred candidate. ICEF represents a chapter of my life and I deeply care about it. And I perfectly understand what it takes to attain a diploma from HSE. An HSE graduate is someone who is motivated to achieve, has a broad outlook and is prepared to learn and take responsibility. Such candidates have great potential for growth. Many of the HSE graduates quickly climb the career ladder and work with the best.

What skills that students learn at ICEF do you consider most essential for working in financial markets?

One important thing that people learn at ICEF is how to manage their time to prepare for exams and absorb the material. This time management ability comes from intense course load, helping to cope with deadlines and develop multitasking skills, which are especially important at the start of the career in the finance sector.

Prioritization skills are some of the most important in the workplace and in life

No less important are your teamwork skills. They are what helps to maintain healthy relationships with team members, assign roles within projects, and communicate with clients. Teamwork is a soft skill, but its value in the banking sector cannot be overestimated. Also, abilities such as managing large data sets, isolating the most important things and structuring thoughts and views can really make things easier for you at the start of the career.

What do you think had played a crucial role in your own career success?

My ability to get onto things promptly, I would say. With every project, I had been very particular about minor details and I tried to never defer my tasks. ICEF taught me how to be a good time manager. I was prepared to take challenges and tackle problems as they came. Never did I fail to meet a deadline or quality. It could have been a matter of luck, but one thing is for sure: I owe my high level of preparedness to my university.

You mentioned your plan to do a master’s. What made you change your mind and start a job?

Professional interests. I started my first job in my third year of study, first as an intern with companies as diverse as pharmaceutical and telecom. I was trying to fit in until a full-time job at Raiffeisen Bank came my way in my fourth year as a student to give me my first banking experience. It seemed a perfect match to my abilities, so I decided to stay in the banking sector.

I have always been attracted to finance as what permeates all of the society. I liked the idea of enjoying influence on the daily life of any person

And because I was doing quite well in my job, I thought doing a master’s wouldn’t give me any added value, for it’s work experience that matters most to companies. The biggest advantage of the master’s study is that it can help us change specialization or narrow our current focus or pave the way for us to careers abroad, but neither was my goal at the time.

You started out as a product manager. What are the duties of a banking product manager?

Product managers have one responsibility no matter the industry – product development. Banks develop financial products – the IT-based ones in my case. The Russian fintech industry is one of the most advanced in the world, with solutions that simplify customer service experience and automate the whole line of processes. That was where I started. Those new exciting IT projects we were working on targeted to streamline customer care and in-house processes for better performance. They create a win-win situation for all players in the financial system – banks and clients.

How did you get into Otkritie and in what capacity?

My role in Otkritie had nothing to do with IT. The bank had just completed its recovery procedure when I joined it in 2018. Everything from team to culture to workflows had to be started anew, a new strong team was to be set up with ambitious tasks before them. It was an interesting experience contributing to that process. Another reason why I left Raiffeisen Bank was that I dealt mostly with small and medium businesses – only one of the multitude of banking segments – while my ambition was to be in bigger projects, to understand how they embraced the whole of banks, and to deal with tasks from customer-oriented to day-to-day operations.

I needed to get clear about banking business, and joining Otkritie’s strategy team was exactly what promised the answers. My new capacity as a strategic analyst involved projects in diverse areas and with different people. It gave me a deeper insight as to how banks operate structurally and organizationally. So, in 2018 I joined Otkritie to discover some new facets of the banking work.

You left for Sber to come back to Otkritie after a while. Why?

I expected Sber to give me horizontal growth, but discovered it was a completely different bank. As a large organization, Sber has all its internal processes carefully developed and streamlined. Your role as a strategist is not as noticeable in Sber as it is in Otkritie, where your every project proves a tangible contribution to a process or product, bringing value to the bank. Sber is, indeed, a good place to get experience, but in terms of growth and professional interest it just didn’t match my goals. Besides, I already had sufficient experience with the financial industry and because the offer from my former colleagues was still valid I thought my comeback to Otkritie would be a wiser choice.

Working in a bank which isn’t a giant or a dominant satisfies by personal ambition. I am running the in-house projects that bring great results and increase my involvement with Otkritie. And since the bank appreciates my motivation, it is a mutually beneficial exchange. In just a couple of years’ time, Otkritie underwent a renewal that other banks take more years to achieve. It had to be restarted from scratch in 2018, and my role as its strategist involved a great responsibility – it has had an impact on absolutely every aspect of its work.

Has the year 2022 brought change to any of your workflows?

I can’t say the recent events have had a strong impact on the Russian banks. It wasn’t easy for the Central Bank to respond to all the challenges in the beginning, true, but now everything seems to be well regulated. Otkritie had to adapt quickly to the new realities, too. The recent perturbations in the Russian banking system have highlighted the importance of being competent negotiators when action is needed here and now for smooth integration into new economic relationships. Otkritie is accustomed to change and perceives it positively. Change helped us unite for more projects and better performance. We all felt involved and joining together in common cause.

Like many Russian banks, Otkritie had difficulties operating its mobile applications, but we coped by finding the alternatives. The bank also developed a more customized approach to its diverse topical issues. I don’t think our workflows experienced any fundamental change, but it’s been an interesting experience.

What are the responsibilities of a bank’s managing director?

I am in the strategy department. My role involves managing projects and their teams. When you switch from technology to management, you become your own boss in deciding on tasks to pursue. You come up with a plan, present it to the team and delegate implementation, overseeing the progress.

In my line of work, soft skills are more important than hard skills – even though these are the hard skills that are key to inner workings of the finance system. My path to growth has been smooth enough and fast, but it came with increased organizational workload. I interact more with other departments and within the team. And I now communicate more often with top management. This is a whole new level of responsibility and I like it because I’ve always been attracted to ambitious tasks.

Have you ever considered doing an MBA? It might be an asset to someone in your role.

Doing an MBA is, indeed, a useful experience for any manager because it gives more global understanding and fosters new connections. It isn’t my plan for next year, but it is in my plans and I have started inquiring about worthy programmes.

Your international degree, how useful has it proved within the Russian banking system?

Firstly, my degree has been useful in that I’m fluent with the English economic terms and concepts. Even at this point in time, there is a strong need for the Russian banking sector to continue to communicate globally. Secondly, my degree has given me sufficient flexibility in work and further education. As someone with expert knowledge of financial industry, its local features, products and approaches, I have nearly limitless options. HSE has given me much more than I actually need at the moment as a specialist. I have great confidence that I can grow and develop in whatever segment I choose.