Then and now

When an alliance of Russian soldiers and Bashkir bowmen rode to Dresden to free the city from Napoleonic rule in autumn 1813, the mounted fighters already attracted the attention of the locals due to their traditional dress and seemingly archaic weapons. Several monuments were later erected to commemorate the battle of Dresden, which was Napoleon’s final victory on German soil. Around ten years ago, a monument was also erected in Dresden for the Bashkirs. A little over 200 years after this momentous event, in 2016, these warriors’ descendants visited Dresden as participants in a Russian MP group – this time in search of cooperation and an exchange.

In late summer 2016, the NBL training centre welcomed what was the thirtieth Russian group of participants in the Manager Training Programme of the Federal Ministry for Economic Affairs and Energy (BMWi) to Dresden. The twenty entrepreneurs and management executives mostly hailed from central and eastern Russia (i.e. the Siberian part) and represented different sectors with a focus on mechanical engineering, plant construction and the exploitation of raw materials. Cooperations in the fields of materials handling and energy production were of particular interest as a consequence.

One highlight of the month-long training course was undoubtedly the visit to Welzow-Süd opencast mine. The Russian colleagues from the mining industry were particularly impressed with the large company’s caution and pragmatism in light of the current situation: given that that the opencast mine will be decommissioned in the foreseeable future, a very special personnel policy and strategic planning is required. Even cross-cutting issues such as demographics and regional development play a tangible role here on a daily basis, whereby the individual employees are taken into account. This was in fact one of the most important realisations of the Russian colleagues in general: despite all of the high-tech equipment and German quality, the focus remains on the humans, employees, colleagues. This issue remains highly topical for Russia and a great deal of time was devoted to this during a series of HR-related training sessions.

It is highly pleasing and should particularly be acknowledged that the current political climate appears to have had barely any impact on relations and the mutual desire for cooperation between German and Russian companies. Quite the contrary in fact: so many German companies attended a networking event at the Chamber of Commerce in Leipzig that the time set aside for the event proved almost too short. The Russian company representatives arranged individual meetings with companies from all across Germany. Maxim Katyushin from Unicon, a project development and steel construction company based in Kemerovo with outstanding references summed up at the end of his stay: “I visited ten German cities, covered 7,100 kilometres and am returning home with three framework agreements for future cooperations in the bag – theoretically I now need a holiday, but the cooperations are only just beginning.”

Aksan Yusupov from Salavat in the Republic of Bashkortostan, whose role as manager of a service company for heating and water supply technology means he can only concern himself with the military glory of his forefathers in his spare time, will take countless samples of innovative connector products from his new German partner IVT GmbH & Co. KG home with him. He wishes to become the market leader in his region with the sale of these unique solutions. He calls on the other participants to do the same – and so it is that the amicable visit of the Bashkirs and other guests from Russia not only tallies with the history of times past but also helps to reinforce existing cooperations and lay the foundation stone for new ones to the mutual benefit of both sides. As the saying goes, the MP has thus undoubtedly helped to beat old swords – or bows for that matter – into plowshares.

ARGE Konsortium Neue Bundesländer, Dresden