Student Spotlight: Ays Sharaev
Ays Sharaev has a front-line view of the current Russian business environment. The managing partner at Waarde Capital in Moscow, which funds venture and established companies in fast-growing markets, Sharaev possesses over 10 years of private equity and project management/finance experience. Despite this background, or because of it perhaps, he entered into the Wharton MBA for Executives (EMBA) program. Wharton Magazine asked him why, as well as a few other questions.
WHARTON MAGAZINE: Tell us what you do in in the private equity/VC space.
AYS SHARAEV: We have two venture funds and one private equity (PE). We’re trying to invest globally (Russia, Europe, U.S., Israel and Asia). I am a partner of the general partner (GP), and we also act as limited partner (LP) in some of our funds.
WM: What is the business climate like in Russia, given all that’s happened?
SHARAEV: Decent. There are still many opportunities. Especially today. We are now in a process of establishing a fourth venture fund, which will be fully dedicated only on the Russian region.
WM: Do you find companies/investors outside of Russia are less likely to work with you given the geopolitics?
SHARAEV: Frankly, I do not feel any difference in attitude toward us from companies or VCs or PEs. We are not too big to be concerned by politics, especially geopolitics. All our Western and Asian partners are experienced people with common sense. They do understand what is going on, so they are very patient with us.
WM: Why commute to the Wharton EMBA program every other week?
SHARAEV: Because Wharton was always my dream. I didn’t want to be associated with other schools. Only Wharton.
Today, I can’t be out of business for two years, and my life and business are mainly in Russia. For that reason, I think the EMBA is the best solution for me. Small class. Experienced people. And a lot of fun, especially when balancing between work, study and family.
WM: Do you have a secret habit or practice that helps you survive the long commute?
SHARAEV: Just live in the airport or plane like those places are usual parts of your life (work, study, eat, sleep, watch TV, send emails, etc.).