How long have you been living in Russia?
I am currently on my second tour of Moscow. My first stint was for four years, however after being back in Melbourne for 18 months I received an opportunity to come back to work in Moscow again. I was happy to return to Moscow and have been back for about 2 years now.
What brought you here?
As it is for most Expats here, the opportunity to work and live in Russia seemed exciting. My initial work assignment was only going to be for 12 months, however as the company I was working for at that time needed to create a more stable presence here, my contract was extended to four years. That turned out to be incredibly fortuitous as it afforded me a deeper understanding of this countryâs character and people. Itâs been a profound experience both personally and professionally.
Do you like it here?
In short, yes very much so. Moscow offers the excitement of living in a big city thatâs growing and developing before our very eyes. That translates to a wealth of opportunities and incredibly diverse experience thatâs far more dynamic than I would have expected from a post-Soviet metropolis. There are drawbacks, of course; Moscow can be unpredictable at times, but I try to regard the challenges merely as lessons or obstacles to overcome to reach something more rewarding in regards to accomplishment. For me, the positive far outweighs the negative.
What are the main differences between doing business here and in Australia?
Key business principles in my experience vary little wherever you go worldwide, however I believe that Russia offers a wider range of opportunity than in Australia; from straight-up street speculation at markets or outside metro-stations, to billion dollar deals in elite Moscow-City offices, business here runs the full gamut. Business in Australia tends to be more casual, straight forward and less bureaucratic however punctuality, unlike in Russia is very important. Russia has a population around 7 times larger than Australia and workers with a relatively high disposable income so businesses here have adapted to become more flexible and creative.
On a social level, what are the main differences between Australians and Russians?
Surprisingly I have noticed a lot of social similarities between Australians and Russians. The most obvious being that both Russians and Australians enjoy a good drink over a BBQ or Shashlyk as well as getting out of the center on weekends. I think one of the primary differences Iâve noticed is the cultural approach to family. Russians, for whatever socioeconomic or personal reasons remain united to the end, whereas Australians are more likely to consider a retirement community or convalescent home for older family members. Also, Australians have a different appreciation of space, despite housing prices being among the worldâs fastest growing, with the tradition quarter-acre block as opposed to Russianâs predominantly apartment-based life. Another difference that strikes me is the number of superstitions and traditions where Iâd say Australia is staid in comparison.