Follow your dream without forgetting the past

SIBUR-Neftekhim’s CEO Mikhail Kuvshinnikov talks about nostalgia, links between generations, and strokes of serendipity.

On the importance of history

My grandfather did not talk much about the war. A decorated veteran, he used to joke that he served as a clerk at the General Staff. As I recently learned from the Podvig Naroda (Feat of the People) memorial website on the Great Patriotic War, my grandfather was awarded a medal For Courage for destroying five enemy troops and capturing an officer during the battle for the Hungarian city of Papa.

Films and books about the war and items of that period have special significance for me. I believe that remembering and honouring your past is very important.

Films and books about the war and items of that period have special significance for me. I believe that remembering and honouring your past is very important.

Today, I am heading a plant with a rich history dating back to 1939. Generations of our employees have worked in Dzerzhinsk, and we are currently in the process of reopening a local museum. A pre-war entrance pass, a revolving Red Banner of the State Defence Committee, a diploma marking the award of the Stalin Prize to a group of engineers... When you hold these artefacts in your hands, you truly feel that you are a part of history.

Today, I am heading a plant with a rich history dating back to 1939. Generations of our employees have worked in Dzerzhinsk.

On the love for technology

We were a very close-knit family, and my father had a great influence on me. He taught me to love technology. I was four years old when we bought our first family car – a used red Moskvich-407. My father spent all of his spare time trying to fix it, and I was assisting him to the best of my ability. When on weekend mornings dad pulled the car out of the garage, the whole family stood outside in anticipation of a miracle and joyfully greeted the old Moskvich as it rolled out into the yard, creaking and slightly smoking. Some of my best childhood memories are related to that car.

As a six-year old kid, sitting on my father’s lap, I felt that I was driving the car myself along the countryside roads. Today I understand that the car was hardly capable of going anywhere beyond the 30 km range from our house. But back then, I was thrilled when my father announced that we would be going on a 1,500 km trip to the Black Sea in our Moskvich. Alas, the car broke down after 200 km (the transmission went bad), and we had to turn back. I was still proud of my father for giving it a go, though. We sold the vehicle in 1988, and it ended up in the salvage some time later.

The passion for antique cars has introduced me to a very interesting group of people – Volga and Moskvich aficionados.

Imagine my surprise when 30 years later I saw an ad for a Moskvich exactly like ours. It was absolutely identical to the car from my childhood, with the same unforgettable smell in the cabin and the burnt out and muddy colour of the body. I did not hesitate for a second to buy it, and today it is my children who are helping me with the repairs and eagerly joining me on countryside rides.

I also have a very old Volga GAZ-21, which I am going to fully restore. And who knows, maybe one day it will be my family’s turn to try to make that 1,500 km trip to the Black Sea and back.

The passion for antique cars has introduced me to a very interesting group of people – Volga and Moskvich aficionados. They know every little detail about these cars. Because of my association with them, the last books I read were maintenance manuals for Volga and Moskvich. Just like them, I now try to make sure that every item of my retro car, from the tool kit to the tire stem caps, is fully authentic.

For us city dwellers, being able to spend time in the countryside, on the banks of a river or on a lakeshore is very important. It is very relaxing and a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your family.

On being result-oriented

Although I was born and raised on the banks of the Volga, we never had a boat. I was not particularly upset about it, but still it was a great pleasure to watch motorboats and ships cruise the river. In the early 1990s, I met a young lady who would later become my wife. Conventional dating venues like coffee shops, parks, and cinemas seemed boring to me, and I came up with the idea of going on a boat trip. The plan was to borrow a boat from a friend of mine who was an avid fisherman. He agreed on condition that I obtain a boating license. The desire to impress my fiancée was so strong that I ended up taking boating courses to receive the coveted license, which I did after passing some challenging exams. We did take that river journey, and today I have a boat of my own, which I frequently pilot with great pleasure. For us city dwellers, being able to spend time in the countryside, on the banks of a river or on a lakeshore is very important. It is very relaxing and a great opportunity to spend some quality time with your family.

Last year, SIBUR-Neftekhim ranked the highest in the Group in terms of healthy lifestyle support, which makes me very proud.

On sports and physical activity

I do not have a favourite sport like judo or skiing. At school and during my student years, I did play football, basketball, and ping-pong and was pretty good at all of these.

Today, I try to take an active part in sporting activities at work. I really enjoy it.

I feel that as a CEO I should lead by example, so I try to join colleagues for every event. I have even passed the GTO fitness tests with our employees. It all pays off: I was very happy to see members of our management team gradually join the healthy lifestyle ranks, quit smoking, and shed weight. It takes willpower to stay fit, and our people have been quite successful at it, utilising their own "smart solutions". Last year, SIBUR-Neftekhim ranked the highest in the Group in terms of healthy lifestyle support, which makes me very proud.


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