Over the year, the Rector of St Petersburg University Nikolay Kropachev has been serving as a mentor for the finalists of the human resources competition ‘My city – my opportunities’. He shared his leadership experience and gave career advice. At his suggestion, their final meeting focused primarily on drawing conclusions and sharing views on what challenges they had managed to overcome.

Daniil Zhukovskii is an engineer-researcher at the Chemical Pharmacology Laboratory at the University and a scientific researcher at the EPAM Systems Inc. He said that this year he has defended his dissertation and published about 12 research articles. Moreover, he has realised that he is eager to take a leadership position in science and education.

Among his high priority tasks was an undertaking that involved forming a Russia-wide base of chemical substances. The related discussion showed, as Daniil Zhukovskii explained, that the initiative had all of the potential to be in great demand. Now there is a discussion for it to be approved as an independent project within the National Technological Initiative. Daniil Zhukovskii has been engaged in a number of scholarship competitions and negotiations for receiving financial support. Among the difficulties he has faced is that the potential investors are more likely to see the project as a commercial one rather than an infrastructure project. Now the working process is a bit slow due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Coming up with a brilliant idea is not enough at times, as Nikolay Kropachev put it. What is more important is to know how to make your project attractive for investors. In this respect, Nikolay Kropachev advised him to work further to achieve and demonstrate his full academic potential and develop additional competences as well.

Elena Erokhina, Deputy Head of the Division of International Mass Media at Gazprom, said that her priority task was finding new ways for professional development. Meeting the Rector of the University enabled her to identify the areas that she was mostly interested in.

As Elena Erokhina explained, collaborating mentoring programme enabled her to propose an initiative to her managers to get involved in a project that focused on advancing communication in the European markets. Among the competences she has and would like to further develop is an ability to stay up to date with the digital technologies. She said that people may not be well informed about the latest advancements as they are rapidly changing. She also sees a great potential in the tourism development project in St Petersburg. Although she and other finalists of the competition were engaged in this project during the competition, only a month ago they started to make extensive inquiries deeper into the matter. Yet now the competition is over and they have lost any interest in it.

The pandemic is not a stumbling block to virtual tourism. A true leader must constantly be on guard. Every time a problem arises, they must: analyse the situation and detect the errors; and identify what might be lacking to achieve success and what to do next time to gain it.

Nikolay Kropachev, Rector of St Petersburg University

In 2020, St Petersburg University launched the video tours of the Modern Sculpture Park, University Botanical Garden, the Kelch Mansion  and numerous University’s museums.

Kristina Kalinovskaia, Head of the Department of Mass Events and Development of Volunteering of the Committee for Youth Policy and Interaction with Public Organisations of St Petersburg, shared with us the results she had achieved through the collaborating mentoring programme. First, she initiated an agreement on collaboration to develop volunteering projects with the University. Some time ago, her colleagues thought it was far from being possible. She also collaborated with the University’s Alumni Association and explained how volunteering can be used in organising events by the Association or the University. She said that she had been successful in developing such personal skills as open-mindedness, logical reasoning, and lateral thinking.

At the end of the meeting, Nikolay Kropachev reminded that leadership is not a benefit to yourself but an obligation to others. He said that he gained a lot from being a mentor and the University was always open for them.