Members of the Expert and Supervisory Board of the IIAB HSE
Interview with Albert Grigoryan, head of Representative offices of GDF SUEZ S.A. in Russia and Ukraine
How does GDF SUEZ, as member of the Board of expertise and oversight committee, influence the training of students of the International Institute of Management and Business?
The Moscow Representative Office of GDF SUEZ began to cooperate with the Higher School of Economics in September 2013 and this partnership has developed in two sectors. First off, an interactive master class was organized, during which I shared my experience in long term gas contracts negotiations with Gazprom and tried to raise awareness of the challenges and methods of this particular task. Furthermore, we collaborated with two groups of students in their Company Project during their semester in Moscow.
What is the Company Project? How does it take shape in Russia, what are its characteristics, and why is the Project relevant for partner-companies?
Our approach to the Company Project is to determine a theme within the Moscow Office and ask students to prepare a study about the chosen topic, such as a market study on prospective areas for the Group. Last year, two groups of students studied new markets for GDF SUEZ in Russia, and prepared pre-market analyses.
In practice, GDF SUEZ defines the subject of the Company Project and oversees its implementation, thanks to regular meetings that help students to better focus their research and write a paper that will be truly useful to the group. The office devotes time to the student teams, as they familiarize themselves with the expectations and needs of a major energy company, active in Russia for over 20 years.
Students become familiar with topics they know mostly superficially, thanks to thorough research and processing of a lot of - sometimes technical - data. The students learn to develop their topic, synthesize its essential elements, and understand the business logic, the need to be concrete and the necessity to take into account the possible implementation of the outcome.
This is a very interesting exercise, both academic and business-oriented, as it meets the requirements of the company. Business-wise, this collective work requires an immersion in the company in order to understand the specific know-how, the overall strategy of the group, and the area of study. Moreover, academically serious research is also needed to take ownership of the given topics, as well as the specificities of their implementation in the Russian market.
GDF SUEZ is an international company, fully aware of the value of diversity. The dual degree students of the Higher School of Economics and ESCP Europe form a unique multicultural group, and this multiplicity of perspectives enriches their analysis as well as facilitates their self-discovery through their interactions with their classmates and GDF SUEZ representatives.
How do the students benefit from working with GDF SUEZ?
Through this Company Project, students will have a thorough overview of the issues pertaining to the energy market in Russia. GDF SUEZ is a highly integrated company and its business-lines are diverse: working with GDF SUEZ, the students acquire a real know-how in the fields of gas, electricity and energy services.
Are there opportunities for the best in the class to obtain an internship or a job at GDF SUEZ?
GDF SUEZ has a general policy to invest in youth at all levels. Our partnership with the Higher School of Economics is part of this process: GDF SUEZ aims to accompany students towards employment by allowing them to confront themselves with the demands of the business world and teach them how to best overcome business-related challenges, while stimulating their interest in the sector.
The Moscow office invests time in the students of the Company Project in order to get them acquainted with the requirements of the business world. A continued link is established between the Office and the students so that this project becomes beneficial for all. The Moscow office is a window into GDF SUEZ. At the end of the Company Project, the Office keeps the contacts of willing students in order to support possible applications for positions within the group. Although participation in the Company Project does not end with an internship offer, it nevertheless allows the student to gain valuable experience within the Group and a first reference on their resume.
What is the motivation for the business sphere and for GDF SUEZ in particular to participate in the student training process? Why is GDF SUEZ interested in participating in training projects?
GDF SUEZ is an active group, which looks to the future to ensure its succession. The Company Project is an interesting project, based on a "win-win" situation. Indeed, on the one hand, it allows the group to better communicate on its business, its activities and its needs. By working with students, the group can share its values and working methods, while also identifying talent. On the other hand, the process allows students to gain experience in a large French company and understand its work on a daily basis.
The success of the Company Project is based on a balance between the initiative and creativity of the students and the methodological framework of the group. The students bring their enthusiasm, desire to discover and willingness to learn. The Office catalyses their energy by mobilizing their ideas so that they can effectively contribute to the strategic objectives of the group, all the while sharing their expertise and motivating students through shared experiences.
At GDF SUEZ, we believe that young people bring us a lot of ideas and energy and that is why we trust them. The important thing is to communicate, to invest in the relationship, and to listen.
How can the business world directly take part in the training process?
To understand the business world, students must develop their training both in academia and in the workplace. The classroom provides the theory to understand the general issues at hand, while business experience provides a convenient outlet for this knowledge, a reality check, which enables implementing the newly acquired knowledge.
In its mission to accompany the youth into the working world, GDF SUEZ encourages exchanges between academia and business. Specifically, in Russia, the Company Projects and master classes facilitate the transmission of experience and increase exchanges between classroom and workplace. This provides an opportunity for students to better understand the energy sector, the business climate in Russia and the labour market in general.
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