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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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Wednesday, Oct. 22

English teachers can expect to receive a few useful pointers today from Evgeny Kalashnikov, the British Council regional teacher, during the EFL Seminar this afternoon hosted by the British Book Center. The topic of todays seminar is Grammar Practice.

Young Petersburgers will get the chance to jumpstart their careers at Professional Growth, a job fair and forum featuring more than 40 major Russian and international companies vying for potential candidates for future positions. The forum not only is a chance to network but also to learn more about the modern business world and to understand what it takes to get the job you want.

Thursday, Oct. 23

AmChams Public Relations Committee meeting is scheduled to meet this morning at 9 a.m. in their office in the New St. Isaac Office Center.

Sportsmen get their chance to stock up on all kinds of gear at the Hunting and Fishing 2014 exhibition starting today at Lenexpo. Everything from rods and reels to boats, motorcycles and equipment for underwater hunting will be on sale so that any avid outdoorsman can always be prepared.

Friday, Oct. 24

SPIBAs ongoing Breakfast with the Director series continues today, featuring Tomas Hajek, Managing Director of the Northwest Division at Danone Russia. Hajek will be discussing collaborations between businesses from different cultures. The meeting is at 9 a.m. at the Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel and all who wish to attend must confirm their participation by Oct. 23.

Get your gong on at Sounds of the Universe, a concert at the city planetarium this evening incorporating six different gongs to create relaxing songs that will transport you upwards into the stratosphere. Tickets are 700 rubles ($17).

Saturday, Oct. 25

AVA Expo, the eighth edition of the event revolving around all things pop culture, returns to Lenexpo this weekend. Geeks, nerds, dweebs and dorks will have their chance to talk science fiction and explore a variety of international pop culture. Tickets for the event can be purchased on their website at

Sunday, Oct. 26

Zenit St. Petersburg returns home for the first time in nearly a month as they host Mordovia Saransk in a Russian Premier League game. Currently at the top of the league thanks to their undefeated start to the season, the northern club hopes to extend the gap between them and second-place CSKA Moscow and win the title for the first time in three years. Tickets are available at the stadium box office or on the clubs website.

Monday, Oct. 27

Today marks the end of the art exhibit Neophobia at the Erarta Museum. Artists Alexey Semichov and Andrei Kuzmin took a neo-modernist approach to represent the array of fears that are ever-present throughout our lives. Tickets are 200 rubles ($4.90).

Tuesday, Oct. 28

The Domina Prestige St. Petersburg hotel plays host to SPIBAs Marketing and Communications Committees round table discussion on Government Relations Practices in Russia this morning. The discussion starts at 9:30 a.m. and participation must be confirmed by Oct. 24.

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