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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, Sept. 3

Although thesand sculptures at the Peter and Paul Fortress are more centrally located and therefore more visible to the throngs of tourists, the 300th Anniversary Park of St. Petersburgs own collection closes today so fans of the classic beach activity should get there while they can.

Thursday, Sept. 4

Vladimir I. Danchenkov, Head of Baltic Customs, will be in attendance during AmChams Customs and Transportation Committee Meeting convening this afternoon at the organizations office near St. Isaacs Square at 3 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 5

Scrabble lovers and chess masters get their chance to assert their intellectual dominance at the return of the British Book Centers Board Game Evenings tonight. Held weekly on Friday nights, the event gives both board game lovers and those hoping to improve their English the chance to meet, greet and compete. Check out the centers VK page for more details.

Saturday, Sept. 6

Athletes will relish the chance to get the latest gear and try out something new at I Choose Sport, an annual event at Lenexpo forum that plans to welcome more than 30,000 people this week to the international exhibition center. Not only will visitors get to try their hand at various athletic endeavors but they will also be able to peruse equipment that can fulfill their dreams of becoming a champion.

Local KHL team SKA St. Petersburg open their season this evening at home against Lokomotiv Yarovslavl at the Ice Palace arena next to the Prospekt Bolshevikov metro station. See their website for a full schedule and available tickets.

Sunday, Sept. 7

Check out retro and antique cars at Fort Konstantin on Kronstadt Island in the Gulf of Finland at FORTuna, a yearly car festival that highlights the eccentricities of the Soviet automobile industry. A car race, contests and a stunt show will give visitors a chance to rev their engines.

Monday, Sept. 8

This evening marks the opening of the two-week ballet festival High Season at the Mikhailovsky Theater. Check the theaters website for more details about performances and featured dancers.

Tuesday, Sept. 9

Discuss the latest news and issues at the AmCham Hazardous Waste Management Roundtable this morning in the Tango Conference Hall of the Sokos Hotel Palace Bridge on Birzhevoy Pereulok. Starting at 9 a.m., planned topics include the Krasny Bor landfill and waste transportation between Russia and Finland.

Learn more about the citys modern architectural trends at the SPIBA Real Estate and Construction Committees meeting on the topic Contemporary Petersburg Style: What is It? Participants will get the chance to discuss whats in-demand with RBI Holdings Irina Petrova and Lubava Pryanikova, and the current state of the local real estate market. Please confirm your attendance by Sept. 5 through SPIBAs website if you wish to attend.

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