Press Clippings

24 May 2007The Best of the Best in the Alfa Fellowship Program — Anna Pyasetskaya, Diplomat

The Alfa Fellowship opens the door for the best American professionals to continue their career in fast-developing Russian companies and representative offices of major Western companies and to travel around boundless Russia and see this country’s rapid development with their own eyes. Their career potential and interest in learning about Russia are the key criterion in selecting trainees. Young Americans able to build a successful career in their own country in the future are selected. It is important to establish contact and keep in touch with the fellows even after they complete their studies. The program organizers have set up an Alfa Fellowship Graduates Club. Its first reunion will be held in New York in May this year. The program has been allotted funding till the year 2010.

The fourth group of young American professionals in Russia has finished their training now. The Alfa Fellowship Program was launched three years ago. The first year only 88 Americans sent in applications — out of that number 7 were selected; there were over 200 applicants for the 2006 scholarships. At the final stage, 25 candidates were invited for interviews — 2.5 for each place. In the end, 10 of them, graduates of the best U.S. universities, were selected.

The results of the training of the fourth group were summed up at an informal lunch on April 3. The participants in the Alfa Fellowship-2006 program met with Mikhail Fridman, the chairman of the Board of Directors of the Alfa-Bank. Talking to the young Americans, he gave exhaustive answers to their questions about Russia’s development plans. The Americans, for their part, praised the organization of the seminars and shared their impressions of their training and stay in Russia.

And they had something to say: the Americans received their training in leading Russian and Western companies that are Alfa Fellowship partners: TNK-BP, the Moscow Microsoft office, the Journalists Union of Russia, Alfa-Bank, and OPORA, or the Russian Small and Mid-sized Business Union and other companies. It is noteworthy that one of the fellows not only successfully completed the training in a private company in Irkutsk but also intends to continue his career there.

The Alfa Fellowship Program is a unique initiative of Alfa-Bank aimed at developing and strengthening social and cultural ties between Russia and the U. S. The goal of the program is to let Americans see how our country is changing and familiarize them with life not only in Moscow but in the regions as well. On the Board of Advisors of the program there are Russian business leaders, politicians, rectors of institutions of higher learning, and representatives of the media. In the U.S. the program is coordinated by CDS International Inc. and in Russia by the Center for International Fellowships.

Initially, the program envisaged six-months of training for Americans in Russia, later it was extended and currently goes for 9-10 months. According to its organizers, the fellowship may even go a whole year in the future. A new group of participants in the Alfa Fellowship Program will arrive in Moscow in June this year and stay in Russia until April 2008. Those selected have already started learning Russian in the U. S. This summer they will be given a unique opportunity to study at the Higher School of Economics in Russia. The 2007 group will get to see many different regions in Russia and get insight into the work of Russian companies. The organizers disclosed a small secret: a female graduate of the program who currently works in the Russia division of the U. S. Department of Commerce has been selected to fill the post of attache on intellectual property at the U. S. Embassy in Moscow.

This is what some fellows had to say:

Bruce Purdy, a graduate of Bowling Green State University with a master’s degree in Public Administration. Place of work: executive director of the American Small Business Administration. Place of training: the Russian public organization for small and mid-sized businesses OPORA.

In 2005, I learned about the Alfa Fellowship Program, applied and was one of the applicants chosen. My training began in June with a course in the Russian language at the Higher School of Economics. In October, I began working at OPORA Rossii, a public organization. While there, we were taken on exciting trips — one was to Irkutsk where we saw Lake Baikal. We went to Rostov Veliky, Yaroslavl, and Tbilisi on our own. We are planning to work in Russia till the end of May. I still have to organize a seminar on small businesses in Vladivostok. After I finish training at OPORA, I’ll return to Washington where I’ll continue working at the Small Business Administration. .

Joy Siegweid, a graduate of the University of Michigan with a master’s degree in Urban and Regional Planning. Place of training: the Foundation of the Institute of the Economy of Cities and the Mott MacDonald Company.

It is not only interesting to live and work in Russia but also possible to build a career there. My studies have always been connected with this country and I have never regretted it. While still a student, I studied in Russia for six months or so, then I worked for the Moscow Times newspaper. The Alfa Fellowship Program has helped me build a career of my own in Russia and get to know interesting people and great professionals. I found the conference on private and state partnership in the housing and utilities sector the most interesting seminar. I will, of course, go back to America eventually. But before I do, I would like to work in Russia some more.