How to bring your business to Russia

Mon 14 May 2012 08:00, Tamara Yadvichuk

How to bring your business to Russia

Remember how Yandex had a culture shock when they went from Russia to Turkey? Well, entering the Russian market from abroad might be as difficult, especially for companies which don’t have years of international experience. Maryke Otten, international trade advisor at the Dutch Chamber of Commerce, has had a lot of experience with Russian culture and language, so if you want to bring your business to Russia, she is definitely the person to ask for advice. Fortunately, Maryke shared some of her experience with me in an interview.

Q: You’ve studied in Russia. How did you arrive at the decision to go there?

I came in contact with Russian language during my studies at The Hague University” – Maryke says. Actually, she became interested in Russian culture largely due to chance. During her studies at The Hague University Maryke picked the Russian language course simply because it fit into her schedule, and eventually she decided to do her study abroad in Russia. “A lot of students go to France, Spain, or Italy on exchange but I decided I could go there on holidays as well. It isn’t that common to go to Russia. So I decided to go there” – she says. Maryke spent two semesters studying in Russia: first at the Plekhanov Academy in Moscow, and then at the State University of St. Petersburg.

Q: How is studying and working with Russians different from the way it is with other nations?

Of course, every culture has its own characteristics, – she replies. – In the beginning it was quite difficult for me because I was not used to the Russian way of doing business”. For example, Maryke told me that in Russia informal relationships are far more important than in Europe, where people stick to the formal setting. “Doing business [in Russia] means setting up a relationship with the Russian partner”.


This was Part 1 of our three-part interview. Come back on Wednesday for Part 2! Meanwhile, enjoy Maryke's introductory video (in Dutch).


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