Maxim Barskiy was on his way from a three-week holiday in Australia flying via Tokyo with his family last autumn. Newspapers were offered to passengers aboard the plane. Barskiy took Vedomosti. He read that TNK-BP shareholders had decided not to appoint Denis Morozov, former Finance Director of Norilsk Nickel, to the position of Company President, and said to his wife: ‘You know, actually, I am well suited. I am their ideal candidate!’ On the following day, Maxim got a phone call from Ward Howell with an invitation to come for an interview about his potential employment with TNK-BP.
‘It does happen in my life, — Barskiy says. – For instance, when I was on my way from America back to Russia after the crisis in 1998, I knew full surely that I would meet my future wife in Moscow, and she turned out to be just the one I imagined. So, this was yet another occasion when I knew they would call me in any case. This is not good luck, not bonanza, nothing of the kind. The key thing is to create an intention’.
We are having tea in the restaurant of Russobalt, a small hotel in Gogolevskiy Boulevard within a stone’s throw of TNK-BP office. Barskiy, 35, is with the company as Executive Vice President for half a year now.
The first thing he said in that interview with Ward Howell was actually the same: ‘I am the ideal candidate. Take a seat and jot down my reasons.’ When we ask the same question, he answers with no hesitation: ‘I am experienced in working with a foreign strategic investor. As the General Director of West Siberian Resources, I engaged a new shareholder, Repsol [of Spain], to my company and faced the same kind of issues as the Russian shareholders of TNK-BP faced with their British partners, i.e. the Spanish perceived us as their branch in Russia, and this had to be overcome. That is the first thing. The second thing is that I established an oil company [West Siberian Resources] in Russia, I built its business in the regions and maintained permanent contact with government authorities. In addition, it was a public company, so I am skilled at investor relations.’ ‘They said TNK-BP shareholders were looking for an independent director – a director who would serve the interests of the Company itself rather than those of any group. This was yet another aspect where I matched since I had never been related to any of the shareholders prior to my employment’, he adds.
Sergey Vorobyov, President of Ward Howell, was skeptical about this self-advertising. Barskiy chuckles remembering Vorobyov asking questions from a huge list (‘did you read this management book? what about this one? but you don’t understand a thing in management, you won’t be able to run such a big business!’) and complaining that he had been looking for a successor to step into the shoes of Alfa Group’s chief oilman, German Khan, for as long as ten years, and to no avail. Barskiy had a meeting with Khan, Executive Director of TNK-BP, on the morning following the former’s birthday party. However, despite this aggravating circumstance and Vorobyov’s intimidations, Barskiy found common ground immediately with Khan and then with Mikhail Fridman, President of Alfa and Acting CEO of TNK-BP.
Following the decision of TNK-BP Board of Directors, Barskiy will take charge of the oil company instead of Fridman in one year. When we ask if he knows that they already nicknamed him