Anastasia Ptukha, the executive partner of Step by Step Group, Candidate of Physical and Mathematical Sciences, a board member of the Russian Marketing Guild. 

On the rise of her career, Anastasia developed  especial points of quantum field theory. Her candidate’s dissertation was on the Schrödinger equation with partial derivatives for an especial case of solitons. During the 90-es, she had to retrain as a marketing specialist. 


Anastasia Ptuha on pseudomarket economy, Yandex.Taxi, Russian Railways and men of the house 

- You started to do marketing, when it only appeared in Russia. How has it developed? 

- Unfortunately, marketing is not the booming sphere right now. Nevertheless, our marketing is professional and uses various decisions, which are different from international ones. Staffing issues are incredible, though. The aspects here are different. For example, our economy in not the market, but pseudomarket one. That is why our marketing is more like a pseudomarketing.

- Can you comment on that? 

- In Russia, we have market economy only in some segments. Small and medium business is struggling there. All the other segments have planned economy, monopoly one, sometimes corrupt economy. Our international colleagues fault us in it, though having the same tendencies. There are very few spheres having market economy. Many segments earned tons of money without it. In that regard we have problems. For example, Mihail Prohorov tries to launch Yo-Mobile and fails. Why? He has never worked within market economy. Such examples are numerous. Sometimes it is good, as leaders can spend as much money as they need to. However, sometimes that is bad, as companies are not so flexible and professional. As a result, every market segment has improper types of competition. An unrivalled competitor can come any time. 

- What about marketing under such conditions? 

- Well, it exists. They teach market specialists by the book. They tell specialists to create a good product and the product is created. Actually, it is not. The decisions on your future prospects are made elsewhere. For example, the decision on market sphere you are going to work within. Big bosses with loads of money think of it. If they need it, they will create an overcompetition in your sphere. 

We all understand that and help organizations to exist under such conditions. 

- So, are there some ways..? 

- Yes. Do not lose courage and accept it. However, I am afraid of the possibility according to which the whole world will become the same. Nowadays, the international situation is all the same; middle class shrinks influenced by transnational corporations. That is not very good for business, however, that situation helps to stratify society; there are many poor people and few rich ones. 


- In the framework of market economy, which spheres let you develop? 

- The agricultural sector is a perspective niche. There are much money in the sphere, large scale projects are feeding the country. Small and medium business are in for a treat there. Speaking of marketing strategy, the first thing I would advise here is thinking of the possible consequences. If one launches a small taxi company in some city, they must understand that a year later it will be either ousted from the market or bought by Yandex.Taxi. Why would one open it then? 

- So, was Yandex.Taxi merging with Uber in Russia natural?

- Sure. However, a small taxi company will not have a place to take. One has to take a niche, which would allow them to bequeath the business; otherwise, it does not make any sense. That way, agricultural sector is worth investing in. There are a lot of such niches. You can do anything, from the production of honey to launching consumers’ co-ops. That is a very long-lasting sphere. 

- Would it be good if we, for instance, had a company competing with Russian Railways? As I know, in Germany there are several transport companies. 

- They are not so numerous. The quantity is always limited. There is always one big company, which consumes the others. However, small companies still exist. 

- So, is it only on the outer side? 

- Exactly so. The old markets are always such. The usual infrastructure always involves small companies, which consume each other. That is unproductive. 

Concerning Russian Railways, I think that competition naturally comprises adjoining services, such as BlaBlaCar and airlines. Russian Railways understands such competition. So, that is sufficient for a company to exist under the conditions of market economy. However, Russia is such a big country that you can only survive as a legal body while being a monopolist. Wide-range logistics is hardly paying off, so it is better to have money to support the whole company. Analogues for Russian Railways will just not fit in.

- Okay. Let’s talk about people. Marketing is quite a stressful sphere. How should one act, so as not to go out of their mind? 

- People tend to get nervous when they do not trust those around them. So, one needs to surround themselves with those who will not betray. It encourages oneself very well. It is also important to stop dealing with excessive risks as they take too many resources. 

- So, how do you deal with stress, if the team is good? 

- I like to meditate. It worked out so that I distribute my time over my hobbies. I also write books. The latest was on finding oneself. It is called Making Up Your Mind. My husband helped me to write it. 

- Do you think that women tend to cooperate with the team better than men? 

- There are women, who think business is for men only. They can be right in some points, but they often draw doubtful conclusions. They act like men, which does not work at all. Alongside with that, women are treated differently and that is not always pleasant. The only thing that can help here is favourite occupation. For example, one of my acquaintances is a sales executive. She likes it very much, as she sells the complex product, which is understood by few people. Together with that, she sticks to her female origin by organizing meetings and eliminating excessive competition by just being there. The thing is, when men, especially unfamiliar to each other, meet, they, in the first instance, try to understand, who the boss is. In the presence of a woman, they do other things. A smart businesswoman knows and uses that. She is not afraid of drawing attention to herself so as to reach mutual agreements. If a woman does not play a man’s role, she will do her job faster and more efficient. 

- If the leader’s decision went wrong, how should they deal with stress? 

- The best definition of leadership that I know belongs to Radislav Gandapas. In his opinion, to lead means to be responsible, not to dominate. “You always know, who is the last to leave the sinking ship,” – he says. The leader will always be responsible for the team and for the situation. As I see it, leaders-to-be should be ready for that. The ship will sink for sure, as there is nothing eternal. However, if you stayed until the end, you fulfilled your duty and stayed with your team. After that, something new can be built. 

- You basically change the world perception patterns. The leader is usually perceived as the only one staying alive and shouting the loudest. 

- People working in a team always know who their leader is, and that is not the one who shouts the loudest. 

- Sometimes, we see women-leaders, who shift their attitude to their families, friends, shop assistants, etc. How can you comment that? 

- Our first book is called ‘Game of gods. Love without fear. Woman’s choice’. It is about love, as my husband and I deeply fell in love at the time. The book concerns issues of family leadership. It is essential, that woman should not be a family leader. However, during a certain life period she inevitably becomes a leader. It is important for that period not to last for too long. 

- Is that the period when men undergo certain job and money difficulties? 

- No, that has nothing to do with work. At some point, a woman should make sure that a man could act, as she wants to. If he does, she will feel safe and then act, as he wants to. 

Imagine the situation. A beautiful woman walks into a restaurant or bar and meets a pleasant man who wants to get acquainted with her. What would a woman do? She would look at his shoes or key fob and then decides whether he is ideal or not. If he is not, she will not even talk to him. The same goes to family life. It is important to say, that a woman wants to meet a man who can teach her something. A man should tell something to kindle her interest. After a man teaches a woman something, she begins to demand something from him. We call it the third stage of love. Most families stop at that stage. That is because women like it, they call it leadership, but it is not. 

However, under normal conditions, after a man did something a woman wanted, she would start to trust him. That is where the fourth stage of love begins; love should base on it. A man is a leader there. Why should he become a leader? It may sound a bit inappropriate, but the human physiology goes that way. A man takes and a woman gives. Woman should be able to trust her man to give. So, man should be able to do something as she wants it. 

Throughout the fourth stage, a man and a woman trust each other. A woman lets him do what he needs to do, as he created the environment she feels comfortable within. Such families exist, however, there are very few of them. They do not teach us that, however, that is essential. 

- Sometimes, if a man is a leader, he dominates and bullies his wife. The third stage disappears that way. 

- Yes, that is the other side of the fourth stage, when a woman does not trust her man. European civilization prefers the third stage, the Eastern one – the fourth stage. That is why both our men and their women are oppressed. However, neither of these is good. 

Agata Korovina, news agency of the Eurasian Women’s Community

Translated by Nikolay Boykov