A group of University of Michigan-Flint MBA students have a better understanding of the global economy after participating in an extraordinary trip to Russia. Because of previous visits to Russia and established relationships, the 13 School of Management students had an itinerary that included meetings with high level government and business leaders in bothMoscow and Togliatti (Flint's sister city). In a period of just 10 days, the SOM students met with: the U.S. Ambassador to Russia, President of GM Russia, President of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, President and Managing Director of Ford Motor Company Russia, and the Director of the Corporate Sector of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development in Russia. Tours included: the AutoVAZ facility in Togliatti, Russia's largest automobile production facility, the AutoVAZ-GM joint venture facility also in Togliatti, Russia where the Chevy Niva is produced, various GM and Ford auto dealerships in Moscow, a commercial bank in Togliatti and universities in both Togliatti and Moscow.
At a visit to Russia's largest GM dealership, the SOM students learned that 40 new vehicles are sold almost every day from that one Moscow location in the booming Russian car market.
"Some of the Cadillacs at the Moscow Chevy dealership are made in Lansing, Michigan, so that was quite interesting for our students to see Michigan vehicles being sold in Moscow – $100,000 for the Cadillac Escalade by the way," said SOM Professor Mark Perry, who along with Dr. Greg Allar accompanied the students.
"Moscow has to be one of the most energetic and dynamic cities in the world right now," observed Professor Perry, who added that "Moscow is now like New York City on steroids, because of the explosion of economic activity there, the significant growth of the consumer market, and the incredible construction boom. The rise of the market economy in Russia, especially in Moscow, during the last several decades following the collapse of the Soviet Union is probably one of the most important and remarkable episodes of economic growth in human history, and for our students to be there and witness it first-hand is something they'll remember for the rest of their lives."
In Togliatti, the UM-Flint students met with the mayor's staff, and during a meeting at the Togliatti City Hall Professor Perry (center of photo), and the President of the Togliatti Academy of Management Dr. Igor Bogdanov, signed a Memorandum of Understanding that will lead to future student and faculty exchanges between the two institutions.
Perry brought back a personal letter from the Mayor of Togliatti, which is to be delivered personally to Flint Mayor Don Williamson. Overall, the trip was such a success that Professors Perry and Allar are already planning a return trip to Russia next year.