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Natalya Podgoretskaya: Exporting Success

Foreigners have lots of illusions about the Russian market and its business and consumer culture.

Published: April 10, 2014 (Issue # 1805)

  • Perseverance, focus and a belief in what her company is doing has helped make Natalya Podgoretskaya a success.
    Photo: for SPT

Export management is an emerging and exciting business, says Natalya Podgoretskaya, the founder and the head of the Direct business communications agency. After only five years, Direct has already achieved success, with branches of the company now in countries around the world. The idea of export management is new to the Russian market. Very few companies in Russia dare to help their clients conquer foreign markets and develop their business abroad. Podgoretskaya is unafraid of the problems that arise from such endeavors. In fact, she welcomes the challenge and makes the most out of working in difficult circumstances.

Podgoretskaya spoke to The St. Petersburg Times about her company, what she had learned from the economic crisis and what its like to be a woman in big business.

Q: How did the idea of Direct emerge? Was this your first business venture?

A: Yes, Direct is my first company. In 2009, the agency specialized in PR and advertising. As time passed, more and more of our projects led to marketing. One of our foreign clients in 2011 inspired us to try export management, when you handle a clients business in a foreign region. This means being completely responsible for marketing and sales. Of course, we learned a lot from working with foreign companies and some things we learned on our own.

Q: Your agency was created in 2009 during the economic crisis. Did it have an impact on the development of your business?

A: Sure. That experience was difficult but Im now grateful for it. It took away all my youthful pride before it had a chance to develop. Its like pouring cold water on yourself. During a crisis the client has higher demands for the quality of services and is more aware of their budget. As a result you are in a situation where you are either the best or you fail. Were still close to many of the clients with whom we worked during this period.

Q: Was it difficult to promote your business at first?

A: It was not easy. We developed the format and carefully investigated the market. Export management was quite a new industry at that time and people regarded it with suspicion. Consulting companies in Russia provide information about the availability of the clients desired export but they dont guarantee business with foreign partners. We give this guarantee if the client is deemed successful and our foreign specialists give a positive forecast for the Russian companys prospects in that particular market. Moreover, we provide the client with a private manager abroad, conduct all negotiations and continue to support and promote the company after their items start selling.

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Friday, Oct. 31

Put your grammar and logical thinking to the test in a fun and friendly environment during the British Book Centers Board Game Evening starting at 5 p.m. today. The event is free and all are welcome to attend.

Saturday, Nov. 1

The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.

Sunday, Nov. 2

Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.

Monday, Nov. 3

Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.

Tuesday, Nov. 4

Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.

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