Summer 2007


Building a Russian Business School

Susanne Campbell, has served as executive director of the UC Berkeley-St. Petersburg University School of Management Program since 1993, a partnership that created one of the first business schools at any Russian university. In that capacity, she raised over $900,000 to support faculty exchanges and $4 million to renovate a building in St. Petersburg to house the School of Management.


Campbell has enjoyed a lifelong connection with Russia. From a young age, she was exposed to the country as her father, a journalist, covered the Soviet Union for Gannett Newspapers. Campbell speaks fluent Russian, which she studied at Leningrad State University in the 1980s while she was engaged in the tourism business, escorting over 100 tours to the USSR. During the late 1980s and early 1990s, she arranged for Soviet executives to come to the United States to study.


Campbell has a master's degree in international relations from George Washington University and an undergraduate degree from Tulane University.


In 1992 I was invited by Professor David Teece to help develop a business school at St. Petersburg (State) University (SPU). It was to be a joint effort, a partnership with the economics faculty from SPU and faculty of the Haas School. Haas had been selected because Valery Katkalo, who is now dean of the School of Management, had studied at Berkeley in 1991.


As the partnership got underway, it became clear that we would be starting with very little. The SOM had no computers and no supplies. For the first few years people from Haas brought boxes of office supplies in our suitcases. The school was initially given a ramshackle building that was dimly lit and poorly heated. In the winter we would see students walking around in coats. The faculty numbered four to six. Many had basic knowledge of economics and mathematics, but they lacked the knowledge to teach business subjects at the MBA level.


Over the next ten years we sent more than 10,000 books and teaching materials, donated by UC Berkeley faculty, for SOM's library. More than 40 members of the Haas School faculty volunteered to teach in Russia and more than 50 of the Russian faculty came to Berkeley to study.


We also formed an external board of advisors. John Pepper, then CEO of Procter & Gamble, served as chairman. It was a delight and an honor to work with him. The board and I began raising funds for new facilities. In 1996, Arthur B. Schultz made the lead gift towards the renovation of a new building, which the city of St. Petersburg donated within a year. Against this background we pulled the SOM into increasing responsibility for its own development.


The SOM opened its doors in 1993 with about 33 students, most of whom were women. They were courageous to have opted to study a subject that was new to Russia.


By 2002, we had the funds to complete the Arthur B. Schultz building to house the classrooms. We celebrated in St. Petersburg. It was an inspiring, happy time. Looking back, I realized how much our skills and knowledge, on both sides of the world, had to keep up with the fast pace of change in Russia.


The next year I was invited to the inauguration of SOM's research journal, The Russian Management Journal. It was the first serious academic management research journal in Russia.


In 2005, at direction of President Vladimir Putin, the SOM won a grant to develop a larger research-based business school to educate the next generation of Russian business and policy leaders.


Last November we were invited to a re-dedication ceremony of the Schultz building, which, with $5 million from the Russian government and the $4 million we had raised earlier, had been transformed from a dilapidated palace into a beautiful, modern structure. The next day we witnessed the ground breaking ceremony at the site of an entirely new "Graduate School of Management" building in which President Putin laid the foundation stone. We got to meet him personally. On the last day, they held a small ceremony that I had not expected: they named the dean's conference room in my honor.


Today the school has 1,500 students in undergraduate, MBA, Ph.D., executive education, and other degree and certificate programs taught by more than 68 full-time faculty members. The SOM cooperates with more than 26 universities and colleges in its student and faculty exchanges and research. Its students are widely sought by international companies as well as major national companies.


The school has become a success in large part because of the dedication and energy of all the people in the Haas community who gave so generously to make it a reality.


To read more of Susanne Campbell's history of SOM, visit:


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Susanne Campbell

Susanne Campbell

Susanne Campbell and Vladimir Putin

Campbell shaking hands with Vladimir Putin, president of the Russian Federation

School of Management

A model of the School of Management campus