- Programme: Proteus
- Nationality: Russian
- Job Post-programme: President, Invest AG
Sergei Bratukhin had been in finance and investment management for two decades when he signed up for LBS’s Proteus programme. “I always look for self-development opportunities,” he says. “My professional career started early and it was narrowed down right at the beginning.”
He had worked without a break since his second year as an undergraduate studying chemical cybernetics in Moscow, in the turbulent era of perestroika (President Gorbachev’s radical economic reforms).
After gaining a second degree, in finance, he went on to work at Andersen and later at McKinsey, during which time he also completed an EMBA. In 2011, after four years in a strategic role at Renaissance Partners, he became the president of Invest AG, one of the largest Russian private equity firms.
“I was trying to find something which would take me out of the box of my business role and would be interesting enough to take my life learning process to the next step.”
Sergei was so impressed with Proteus, that he has already sent three of his friends on the programme. “I said, ‘Guys, it’s one week. Take the time for reflection and see what comes out of that. It’s less about your career; it’s about bringing new ideas and creativity to your life.”
Sergei had previously participated in a three-day Masterclass in Private Equity Programme, which he found to be excellent. So why Proteus? “Most executive education is about either improving your functional learning like financial management – or your soft skills like communication.
"Proteus is different: It’s stimulating, diverse and unparalleled.”
Gaining a global worldview
What makes LBS unique, says Sergei, is people’s varying energy, drive and backgrounds. At 43, he was one of the youngest in the group. “It was a very diverse group – Asian, Australian, African, European people, in their forties, fifties or sixties. It was really interesting to go through this process of creative learning and rediscovery with those people.
"At most schools, the majority of people are usually from one geographical area, but at LBS you’re with people from all over the world and that really affects the group dynamics. You feel as a part of the world.”
Among the mind-expanding activities offered on Proteus is an art workshop designed to unlock participants’ creativity – not the sort of thing a busy executive would normally fit into their day. Sergei loved being nudged into it by the programme.
“There are so many limitations that prevent us having new experiences – whether it’s a time barrier or our own inflexibility. Proteus was an opportunity to diverge from my career and find meaning in other ways. I found a lot of new ideas during our visits to St Martin’s School of Design, Cambridge University and the National Portrait Gallery.”
Sergei is still serving as a CEO of an investment fund, but his view of the world has changed substantially. “I do many things now that I hadn’t done before in terms of inspiring and leading my people, developing them beyond their job roles.” He also allocates more time for family and pro bono work.
“In my study group there was an amazing woman who worked in charity in the Netherlands; I took inspiration from her that pro bono or charitable work can be as fulfilling as making money. I realised that my contribution to society should be much wider.”
He is now a sponsor of the charitable foundation Change One Life, which helps Russian orphans who are up for adoption find a family through making and posting video clips of them that prospective adoptive parents to view. Thirty percent of these children are adopted within six months, thanks to this innovative method.
“We have 90,000 orphans in Russia and the foundation has already helped 7,000 of them to find new parents. It’s amazing to see such a meaningful change in many children’s lives.”