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Handling Russia With Care - Made for the Top Post
08.06.2007 18:13

Daniel_Kearvell By Yelena Andreyeva

It is not difficult to see in Daniel Kearvell someone for whom success comes easily. Only 26, yet Kearvell has already established himself as one of St. Petersburg’s brightest foreign stars. Having already been founder and director of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce (RBCC) in St. Petersburg and the Russian Northwest, Kearvell’s current challenge is as area manager for one of the world’s largest companies, DHL.

Born in 1980 in the English town of Peterborough, at the age of four Kearvell started playing rugby and always dreamed of becoming a professional player. And it was rugby which sent him in 1989 to Russia for the first time for a match against Lokomotiv in Moscow.

“It was a difficult time for Russia. There was no food in the stores. We didn’t even have any water to drink during the match, but, anyway, I was impressed by the hospitality of the Russian people. Since then Russia has always been my interest, my hobby and eventually it became my life.” It became Kearvell’s ambition to return to Russia at some point in the future.

He started reading Russian literature and finding out as much as possible about the country, going on to study 20th century Russian history at Nottingham University. At the end of his first year he went to Yaroslavl and then during his third year spent four months in Voronezh, traveling a lot around the country in the process.

“For me it was a huge adventure. We visited Yekaterinburg, Samara, Volgograd and some cities in Northern Russia. It was extremely exciting, something very, very new — a unique opportunity to see the ‘real’ Russia. That time has a special place in my heart,” Kearvell said. “This is the thing about Russia — some people from my group liked it, others wanted to get back home. Personally I’ve always thought that it’s good to be open-minded and have new experiences with foreign cultures.”

During the second half of his third year at university Kearvell moved to St. Petersburg where he taught English to Russian students aged 6 to seventeen.

In 2000, back in the U.K. to complete his studies, Kearvell worked at the Events Department of the RBCC in London. “During my penultimate year at university I came on several business trips to St. Petersburg to look for opportunities for the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce who wanted to open an office here. Even at this very early stage of my career I had a very special feeling about St. Petersburg, which is a great city with a lot of potential. It was my ambition to come back here,” Kearvell said.

However, in 2002 Kearvell started work in Moscow where he was appointed the RBCC’s Advertising and Marketing Manager. A year later he was promoted to Commercial Manager and a year after that it was Kearvell himself who opened the RBCC office in St. Petersburg, becoming responsible for attracting British companies to set up business in Russia.

Of course for most young foreigners finding work in Russia is a challenge. Out of the 109 other British students who studied in Russia with Kearvell, just five or six of them came back, he said.

“Although the Russian economy is growing extremely quickly and there was big demand for Western professional assistance and management expertise in the 90s, that is no longer the case,” Kearvell said.

“Russian specialists are growing more and more qualified. Now they are pretty much on the same level as their British counterparts. The young generation is extremely bright. They travel and study abroad, some speak English even better than we do. That’s what makes me positive about Russia’s future.”

Kearvell believes that Russia is a country of big opportunities. “If you are bright and practical, Russia gives you the opportunity to learn and succeed very quickly,” he said. As a foreigner living in Russia, Kearvell strongly believes that he has his own special obligations. “Firsty, I think if you are an expat in Russia and you respect the country you live in, you should speak the Russian language, even though it is difficult to learn. We should also not forget that here we are representing the country of our birth. I would never deny the fact that I’m an Englishman. Moreover, my previous job was representing the British-Russian business community in Russia.”

At the same time, when he returns to the U.K, Kearvell said that he feels like an ambassador for Russia.

“Many people in Britain occasionally have an incorrect view about what is happening here in Russia. So I try to give them the full picture, tell them what the country is really like,” he said.

Kearvell is certainly finding his current line of work satisfying. “DHL is a great company to work for. It has very good HR processes and I see very much my role as a regional manager throughout the whole of the North-West. My job is building a strategy but also includes people management which means that I am making people understand what we expect from them at work.”

“And DHL has practical, ambitious employees who are able to take responsibility and decisions on their own,” Kearvell said.

As an experienced manager, Kearvell thinks that sport is a very good background for management. “If you are a captain in team sport, you look at the team, put the players in the right position, try to motivate them in the right way, and it’s exactly the same as a manager,” he said. In June 2004, he started his own rugby team “The White Knights in St. Petersburg.” It consists of Russian and foreign amateur rugby players who regularly gather together for training and matches.

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