Interview with Thierry Cellerin – Partner, Buzz Factory

Selection_220What is the main difference between French and Russian Business Cultures?

For me, the main difference is in business relationships. I am talking about the kind of business relationship that develops when you start working with the client or the supplier. In any other culture, in particular in France, when you start working with the supplier, you start to corroborate with him or her. Here, people don’t see the supplier as a corroborator; they see him or her as some kind of different category of people. They don’t see the point in developing a long-term relationship.

What are the main differences that you have noticed in terms of living here?

To start with, I would say that the pollution of the air is a matter of concern to me. Lately, the city authorities have launched a program to rebuild the green areas of the city. I really hope this will help to improve the situation. My second point is that I feel that people are stressed in their day to day life, especially during the winter period. For me, this is the main difference. Many people here in Russia view other human beings as being a potential threat or enemy. In Europe, if you see someone in need in the street you will help that person, unfortunately so many times you see people just passing by and not helping.

What are the main similarities if there are any?

That’s a good question. I would say the utilisation of Moscow. It’s happening in the same way as in Europe. For example, five or six years ago you didn’t have any coffee shops, now you see them everywhere. I think that the centre of Moscow is becoming more and more utilitarian, like in any other European city, particularly with as regards the consumer habits of people under 35.

Is it important for a French business person to live in Russia in order to understand the way of doing things here?

I think it is absolutely necessary. A lot of people coming here from abroad have a completely misleading image of Russia. People’s understanding of this country is based on what they perceive through European culture. But Russian culture is very different from that of Europe. I think it is impossible to be successful in Russia without living here or having a team of people who live here. This is why the most successful French here are the people who have lived over 10 years here.

What do you love and hate about Russia?

What I love about Russia is the bottomless richness of it’s culture, the level of friendship people are dragging you in, the hospitality, the astonishing beauty of women, the architecture of Saint Petersburg, Russian cuisine and finally I love the way Moscow is changing giving more places for people to spend time such as Gorky Park, pedestrian streets, bicycle lines, open air markets etc… What I dislike is the fact that still many people, often aged of 40 + believe that they are not applying to the community rules or that they are more important that the others. It results in cruel egoistic behaviour. But I guess every country has its ugly ducklings.