Import, export: Russia’s talent flow works both ways

Gone are the days when foreigners thought Russia was snow-covered round the year with bears prowling the streets. Today, Moscow is a place teeming with opportunities for foreigners. Likewise, many Russians also look abroad to find their fortune.

Both foreigners coming to Russia and Russians going in the opposite direction have similar reasons. They hope to find their place in life after the move – and in many cases it seems to work out.

What expats expect to get in Russia is healthy salaries and fast careers. Russian companies are pretty short on experienced managers, so you could find a position in virtually any industry: retail, marketing, real estate, medicine and so on. No wonder headhunting agencies estimate the number of expats in Russia will grow by 15-20 percent yearly.

The picture contrasts starkly from the wild capitalism epoch of the 1990s. Back then the country was a destination for thrill seekers and adventurous types. If you were up to the risks you could make a fortune from scratch. Many did. But others failed miserably.

In today’s Russia there is no room for instant enrichment, but the booming economy has many rewarding jobs for hardworking people. The businesses are young, rules are set in stone and a daring individual can find or create a suitable place of his own.

But on the negative side Russia has a specific set of social norms and traditions – including the notorious red tape. It makes doing business harder, and many Russians flee abroad to find a more suitable environment. They say Europe, the United States or Australia gives them more opportunities to be successful than their homeland will ever be able to. Often their expectations come true as examples of Russians making their fortunes abroad are numerous.

So it turns out that Mother Russia is exporting and importing talented people at the same time – and everyone seems to be absolutely happy with it.