With Timothy Post, MBA ’96

Post is a partner in the Lambina Group, a land development company. He can be reached through his Web site, www.timothypost.com, and he lives in Krasnodar, which is in southwest Russia near the Black Sea.

Participating in Babson’s Global Management Program, he first visited the city in 1995William Coyle, associate professor of accounting, was the faculty adviser for his internship, and during that summer, Post met a group of young Russian entrepreneurs. Two of them are his business partners today.

Post was back in Russia with Coyle the following January. Staying in St. Petersburg, Post wrote a research report on Russia’s new entrepreneurs.

Q-How did your Babson experiences studying in Russia influence you?

A-I think it is fair to say that I now live and work in Krasnodar in large part due to the experiences I had while at Babson and also because of the encouragement and guidance of Professor Coyle.

Q: What do you like about living in Russia?

A-This is now my third time living and working in Krasnodar. Intellectually, Russia is a fascinating place for me. The pace of change offers a level of intellectual stimulation, which would be difficult to duplicate elsewhere. There is not a day that goes by when I don’t feel challenged or when I don’t learn something new. For me that’s kind of cool.

Professionally, Krasnodar is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Imagine if you could go back in time to the 1950s in Southern California and have the opportunity to buy land and develop it yourself. The Krasnodar Krai region is the Southern California of Russia today. It has a warm climate, agriculture, trade, oil, tourism, a rapidly growing population base, and the 2014 Winter Olympics will be in Sochi as the 1960 Winter Olympics were in Squaw Valley.

Personally, I want my daughter, who is half Russian (my wife is from Krasnodar), to have the opportunity to grow up truly bilingual and with Russian roots. In order to feel oneself Russian, I believe, one really needs to spend an extended period of time here. On the other hand, being an American is much more of a state of mind which, I think, can be partially acquired even when one is outside the U.S. By the way, Thomas Wolfe was wrong. You can always go home again.

Q-How is your land development company doing?

A-With my Russian partners, we have a portfolio of five properties here in Krasnodar Krai. My focus is on developing a beautiful 650-hectare property in the hills south of the city into an eco-aware, master-planned country club community with an 18-hole golf course, clubhouse, hotel with a conference center, lake club with a pool, and 250 home lots in the project’s first phase.

Q-How much importance is placed on entrepreneurship in Russia?

A-Unfortunately, entrepreneurship does not hold the same prestige or glamour here in Russia today that it does in America or even Europe.

Part of the problem is that due to the near economic and cultural collapse of the 1990s, many people in Russia still view “biznesmeni” in much the same light as Americans’ view used car salesmen or divorce lawyers. There is little distinction made in the Russian public’s mind between the corporate raiders (i.e. oligarchs) from the privatization years and today’s Western-style entrepreneurs, like Roustam Tariko (Russian Standard), Sergei Galitsky (Magnit), or Yuri Milner (investor in Facebook).

Fortunately, this negative perception of entrepreneurs is slowly changing. Even more encouraging, however, is the Russian government’s growing appreciation of the overall importance entrepreneurs play economically. President Dmitry Medvedev, in particular, has made two of his top priorities fighting corruption and bureaucracy in a direct effort to create an environment more conducive to entrepreneurial activity. We all have our fingers crossed that Medvedev will be successful.

Additionally, one other very positive development is the opening of a completely new business school in Moscow called Skolkovo, which is focused on entrepreneurship and has just recently graduated its first class of MBAs. This school is supported and funded by some of the most successful and powerful people in Russia today.

When people tell me that Skolkovo aims to be the “Harvard Business School of Russia,” I always tell them that that’s fine, but even better would be if Skolkovo aimed to be the “Babson of Russia.”