St Petersburg: a Beginning

8 02 2008

Tea: 

Was great to read Jose’s post – simply beause it’s the first proper comprehensive post in the blog, though of course the content of it is quite unnerving. Still, I could really feel Jose’s concern (to use the usual English understatement and avoid the word ‘passion’) for his country and what is going on there. Such feelings are always the necessary prerequisite for things to change for the better, which is in itself encouraging, so thank you Jose…

My news: I am working in St Petersburg for Nuclear Energy Project Research and Design Institute . The institute has been there in this or that form since 1923; at first they designed other sorts of power stations, of course, nuclear type came in relatively recently, but now it has become their main area of activity. They do absolutely everything, starting from design of stations to solving the technological problems of nuclear waste disposal, working both in Russia and abroad and being one of the three companies in Russia monopolising this industry. The institute is in the very centre of St Petersburg, just a couple of minutes off the famous Nevsky Prospect.

I work as an economist, reporting to the planning and economic service manager. The work is extremely interesting in the following sense. The trick is that the institute belongs to Russian Federation and, as a state institution, has always been directed from above: what to do, how much to spend and what to spend on etc. For example, budgeting has been done as follows: take the amount of money spent last year and multiply with an inflation coefficient. That’s it. Very recently the management has changed. The general director is appointed by the government (the so-called Federal Nuclear Energy Agency, which is something almost like a ministry), and this time a man from Tomsk (a beautiful old Siberian city) was appointed, and he brought his team with him: executive manager, vice-principal in economics and finance, planning and economic service manager, a few economists, specialists in competitive bidding and project management. The Tomsk team is great, and they seem to integrate very well into the whole system, even though there is a lot of professional misunderstanding: people simply are not used to do things the way the new team wants them to be done, which is understandable and is perhaps the matter of time.

I have not been allocated any particular role yet, because the whole thing is still quite turbulent; new people are still arriving, and job specifications have not been clearly developed yet. I hope to learn about the economy of an organisation: accounting, budgeting, controlling financial flows, economic analysis and planning.

At fist, it feels quite shocking, because it’s a very routine and monotonous process, only sometimes enlightening and promising. I’m simply not used to this kind of work, and analysing accounting information is daunting; I sometimes spend hours blinking at the monitor and trying to make head or tails what I see there. I know I have to go through this and learn, and then I can probably shift to some other department: project management for example or something like that, more technical and strategic; but for that I need the knowledge of how the institution works, where the money comes from and where it goes.

 The institute is going to change its form to a joint-stock company, which is a tremendous change for a state-owned institution with almost a century-long history, and it will set a huge amount of very challenging tasks. I hope to see this happen, and take part in it… would be really exciting.

This in my news in brief; I’m planning to write more soon in my personal blog, and will place a link here.

Hope to see your news/thoughts/ideas.

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2 responses

8 02 2008
Susan Kishner

I found your site on technorati and read a few of your other posts. Keep up the good work. I just added your RSS feed to my Google News Reader. Looking forward to reading more from you.

Susan Kishner

16 02 2008
rizab85

Congratulations, I belive now you have started to get some exciting work as well. It might be a slow start bu the future prospect look quite rosy, hang in there I am sure you will like after you get a hang of it.

Also can you als tell us about the social political situation, the people, your collegues, your interaction with people otherwise, etc

Love Rish

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