Business in Russia is a grand adventure
In an interview with Capital Ideas, General Director of FM Logistic for Central and Eastern Europe Christophe Menivard talked about family business, the value of collective intelligence, and why Moscow is a city of opportunities.
I know what you moved to Russia from France with your family over 10 years ago. What were your first impressions of the country?
It was 11 years ago in September 2008. That time Moscow was shining, the lightness was marvelous. I was wonderstruck by both the size of the city and the country. It was a great impression of the intensity and the dynamism of Moscow.
So immediately I had got the feeling that everything was possible and multiple opportunities would be available. I felt alive and understood that as a person I would learn a lot from this unique experience.
How did your work at FM Logistic start?
It was a very specific period of time for me because I had joined FM Logistic in Russia. At first I was in charge of one Business Unit 60 km south of Moscow. It was a double integration: an integration with the company with its strong family business DNA and its long-term perspective and at the same time an integration with the country, the Russian environment and context.
Being humble in front of my new company and this country, accepting that I didn’t know either of these cultures. You are a foreigner for the company and for the country. Nobody is waiting for you. It was necessary to listen and understand the context, to test your ideas before acting, and to define the proper way to communicate. Only you could make your place and create value, and it’s you who should adjust to the new environment.
What is your success story?
Success is very volatile, especially in Russia. I can just say that humility, curiosity, and agility are key skills for success.
My crucial factors of satisfaction are: to see many of my collaborators doing things and having some positions that they could not have even dreamt of, to see the development of our company through a new axis.
What are your plans for the near future?
I stay on plan to continue the development of the company creating the maximum added value and new concepts for our clients, and to provide new employment opportunities. And to preserve and develop the team spirit that we have built over the years on top of this.
Have the sanctions affected sales?
Not really. The sourcing of our clients has been modified rapidly. Reactivity is one of the defining characteristics of this country. As a logistic operator, FM Logistic has not been seriously affected.
What do you dream about? What do you want to change?
I dream to have a more collaborative company. I still think that we dramatically underuse collective intelligence. It’s one of my key challenges for the coming years.
In your opinion, what is business in Russia?
It’s a particularly unpredictable and intense human adventure. And it’s key to think about it like this. Anything can happen and you must accept it and never give up.
What advice would you give to a person from another country coming to Russia to start a business?
First of all, you need to listen, be humble, and accept that it’s often necessary to modify your plans quickly in accordance with the context.
NOTE FROM CI:
FM Logistic is an international family business founded in France in 1967. It primarily provides storage, transportation, and supply chain management services. As of 2019, the company employs over 27,000 people in 14 countries (France, Spain, India, Italy, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Brazil, China, Slovakia, Czech Republic, Vietnam, Hungary). FM Logistic owns over 4 million square meters of storage space. The company entered the Russian market in 1994, when the country didn’t have the logistics models that became necessary in the 90s.
FM Logistic employs around 8,000 people in Russia, including Europeans who come to Russia for training and education programs, internships, and as professionals by invitation. Several stories of successful development in the company are linked specifically to employees from other countries. French people occupy different roles, from interns to directors and board members.