Traditions require pursuit. So when Frank Richter from Horasis is inviting to one of his legendary “Global Business Meetings”, the best option is simply to show up and receive a stimulating update on the state of the globalized world. This times it was the Global Russia Business Meeting 2011, last year I attended in Ljubljana, this year in happened to take place in Limassol (Cyprus).
As it was the first time to this island for me, I decided to come two days earlier and do a little bit of sightseeing, mainly into the surprisingly high mountains up to 1,900 meters …
… as well as trying out the local cuisine which is famous for its “Meze”. Shared dishes which keep on coming in endless numbers and makes. Apparently, me including, every foreigner on his first time consistently commits the same mistake: Eating too much in the beginning and then facing complete paralysis when more and even more food is arriving to the table.
The Island-Republic has been for decades an attractive destination for Russian tourists and investors alike: The single biggest source of Foreign Direct Investment (FTD) into Russia comes due to favourable holding- and taxation structures indeed from Cyprus.
Our hosts were enormously hospitable who made our stay a truly memorable experience. During the gala dinner on Sunday evening, the President of the Republic of Cyprus, Mr. Dimitris Christofias welcomed us …
… after which inspiring and funny conversations with other attendees extended way after midnight.
On Monday, in fact the major day of the event, there were a couple of “all hands” plenary sessions with CEOs and ministers of state as well a plenty of parallel “break out-sessions” for a more intimate exchange. Like last year in Madrid for the India-Meeting, I had the honour to moderate a session about “Creating Innovation Capacity” with eight distinguished participants on the panel.
In the nutshell, a couple of issues pertaining to Russia:
- Assumptions from foreign businesspeople that Russia is operating like a Western country are strongly overstretched; one needs to know how to navigate the system with all its intricacies.
- Political regulation changes frequently, and not always for the better.
- Russia has strengths in R&D, yet deficits in devising products and services out of this, also with sub-standard abilities downstream when it comes to marketing and sales.
- Russia’s strongest GDP-driver, natural resources, is both a salvation as it is a curse: It lacks the necessary “eco-systems” (benchmark: Silicon Valley) to allow other truly innovative sectors to emerge in order to contribute to a better diversification of the economy.
- Russia possesses a healthy self-awareness about its strengths and weaknesses and has set up a variety of private and public initiatives to foster exchange to gain best practices.
This appears to be especially true after the financial crisis where the government is listening better than ever to entrepreneurs how to be serious about the necessary implementation of change.
Thanks Frank for once again putting a great program with inspiring people together, hope to see to see you soon at one of the subsequent events.
And on a personal note: Thanks to Davor, from Les Clefs d’Or– Concierge from LeMeridien in Limassol who helped me within 18 hours print my forgotten business cards and held some true insider tips for the best local dining in the area ready. “Hvala vam ljepa na vasoj pomoci, Davore”, – who originally hails from Bosnia and with whom I proudly conversed in our mother tongue Serbo-Croatian. That’s globalization at its best as it comes with the touch of home … :-)