You became a civil servant after more than ten years of experience in private businesses. Why did you decide to join the world of state administration?
What exactly urged me to work as a civil servant after several years of being a private entrepreneurs? I wanted that time, as I still want now, to ease the conditions for entrepreneurship in Russia. Trade, including cafés and restaurants, is among the largest branches of economy. I have some expertise in this field, and as ex-entrepreneur – a real former private entrepreneur, not a private corporation employee – I possess some unique experience: I personally experienced the realities of Russian entrepreneurship “from the inside”. And like any normal person, I constantly wished to change things, and there is quite a lot that needs to be changed. This is possible only by working in the public sector. Thus, when I got an offer to head the relevant branch of the Moscow Government and later the Russian Ministry of Industry and Trade, I agreed.
Has your approach to politics changed after your transition from business to state service? Do you believe that state service and politics need people with personal hands-on business experience?
Regular state service is, of course, a special area of activities requiring special approaches. The main point is that the results are not always measurable in money like in normal business. To the contrary, one must often reject opportunities that, for example, lead to budget profits but are harmful for the economy as a whole or go against public welfare. There are lots of people among civil servants that are, as state officials say, “from business”. But those are mostly former corporate employees, not only from private corporations, but also from state ones. These people are not “from business” in my eyes. I have a different kind of experience. I used to be an entrepreneur; I have led my own business – a small business – at my own risk. I can safely say that this is not the same as for example working as a manager of a large corporation – no offence intended. There are very few people like me with personal business experience working in state agencies, almost none. Thank God, my boss is pretty much like myself, thus, I believe, we have formed an effective team and we don’t need to explain each other things that are obvious to any true entrepreneur. We have a very difficult mission – to explain our colleagues lacking similar experience things that are sometimes quite obvious for us. For example, that the state cannot and should not tell entrepreneurs how to lead their businesses. The state must provide such conditions that entrepreneurs can apply their talents and conduct their activities. At the same time, the state needs to consider public interests. The less the state actually steps in to impose regulations, the better it is for all of us. Regulations must be exclusively aimed at upholding public welfare needs. It is extremely hard, but we believe that our work is vitally important.