Sergey Evlanchik became an entrepreneur in the volatile environment of post-communist Russia. At the time when former Soviet state enterprises were being privatised, he trained as a stock trader and took up employment in the far eastern exchange, based in Vladivostok.
It was while he was there that Evlanchik first saw the opportunity that existed for entrepreneurs to build new businesses in the legal and economic confusion of the transition. So together with a colleague, Alexander Slipchuk, he set up the equity trading company Alfa-Broker in the far east of the Russian Federation, which grew rapidly to become the third largest trading house in the region.
After the collapse of the Russian and Ukrainian equity markets in 1998, Evlanchik re-focused his activities on business development in the industrial sector of Ukraine, where he was born, and on the dairy business in particular, joining together the companies that would subsequently form Ukrproduct Group. Now aged 27, he decided he could benefit from an MBA. “I needed more knowledge to develop the business internationally,” he says. “I wanted to learn more about dealing with investors and about capital markets outside the former Soviet Union.”
Evlanchik decided to apply to Oxford University’s Saïd Business School for a range of reasons. “Oxford had a more entrepreneurial attitude than Cambridge or London, and very modern facilities,” he says, “and yet it was part of an ancient university. Also, unlike London, it offered a one-year programme.”
So Evlanchik joined the MBA class of 2002/3. “We had a representative from almost every part of the world in our class,” he recalls. “It was really interesting for me to hear their views and understand their mentality.” Evlanchik also enjoyed the balance between his social life at Templeton College and his business education at the School.
Evlanchik credits the programme, and the networking benefits it provided, with giving him the courage to lead Ukrproduct to become the first company in the history of Ukraine to become listed on the London Stock Exchange. “It was quite a challenge,” he says. This is something of an understatement, given that the obstacles Evlanchik and his colleagues faced included the chaos caused by the Orange Revolution in Ukraine in late 2004, in which thousands of protestors took to the streets of Kiev to overturn the results of a rigged presidential election.
The company was finally listed in 2005, and Evlanchik is still in partnership with the two other Oxford MBAs – Narek Harutyunyan and Dmitry Dragun – who worked with him on the IPO (initial public offering). The team now hopes to grow Ukrproduct, already the market leading dairy producer in Ukraine, to become the market leading food company in the country.
At the same time, they have set up an investment bank, Trust Capital Group, which specialises in raising capital for companies from former Soviet Union countries. Having been through the process of listing on the London Stock Exchange themselves, they realise the enormous potential that exists for other businesses to repeat their success.