width=200Svetlana Rakutina, Director of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO Executive MBA program speaks with Dawn Bournand, Editor, about Entrepreneurship and the Executive MBA.

Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO began its Executive MBA program in January 2009 and is already making waves in the worlds of higher education and business. The unique focus the school brings to entrepreneurship via select venture funding for program participants, the alliances it is forming with prestigious schools such as HEC and MIT Sloan and the overall focus it is bringing to Russian business are impressive accomplishments for any school to achieve in its first year. One of the driving forces behind this activity is a woman named Svetlana Rakutina, Director of the SKOLKOVO Executive MBA program. Svetlana spoke with QS TopExecutive about entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership.

Svetlana's 12 years of managerial experience at pharmaceutical company Organon, and then within her own successful company Pharmexpo, have helped her to obtain expert status as an innovative, entrepreneurial leader. She has worked to make sure these elements of her expertise are included in the SKOLKOVO Executive programs. What makes SKOLKOVO unique is that we unite entrepreneurship, innovation and leadership in our EMBA program, she says. Leadership classes are taught by well-known coaches with international experience; we bring in famous entrepreneurs to visit the program and bring their unique local and international experience to the  program participants and innovation is reflected in our teaching methods and program flexibility. We invite many speakers who implement innovation outside of the typical business world such as the arts world, sports - a full range of fields.

SKOLKOVO puts a special emphasis on learning leadership outside, as well as inside the classroom. Svetlana says the school believes there is no theory that can improve leadership skills - it can only be improved by practice. Each participant now in the program has his or her own individual coach. They work together from the very beginning until the end of the program to develop the leadership skills which are important for this particular student, not just in general, Svetlana explains. We also have a leadership day in our program where topics such as advanced communication skills, advanced presentation skills and negotiation skills are discussed and practiced. We have found that motivating students to help each other in class, where one student feels strong and another seems to have difficulties, can be beneficial. They rotate their role as group leader among the students so each person has his or her chance to take the lead.

Perhaps one of the most impressive aspects of the SKOLKOVO program is the fact that students have the opportunity to present their entrepreneurial projects to the SKOLKOVO founding partners to seek venture capital funds. Interested program participants are able to meet the school's founders and network within the group which also plays an important role in entrepreneurship, Svetlana explains. The most interesting student ideas will eventually be financed in part thanks to these encounters. But she does stress that at SKOLKOVO entrepreneurship not only means owning the business but having an entrepreneurial approach. In other words, the approach when executives treat corporate business as their own. We aim to teach a helicopter view approach. In this case, it doesn't matter whether you are a business owner or a corporate employee, she says.

For Svetlana, the benefits of an Executive MBA cannot be overstated. It will change your life. When I pursued my Executive MBA, I had no idea that in a few years I would completely change my career. The Executive MBA is not just a program you pay for and then learn a few things. I have known people who completely changed their career path. For example, one student was a financial controller in a large company and decided to move into the movie industry and ended up becoming a producer. I know many people who have just changed everything.

The changes may not be as dramatic for all EMBA participants, but it is clear that an Executive MBA broadens your horizons and can definitely open new doors. Through the entrepreneurial leadership that is taught at the SKOLKOVO Executive MBA program and many top business schools across the globe, today's EMBA participants are armed with the tools necessary to make their own entrepreneurial mark on the world.