Ruben Vardanyan is a well-known entrepreneur, philanthropist, President of LLC VARDANYAN, BROITMAN AND PARTNERS and co-founder of RVVZ Foundation. Previously, he served as CEO and Chairman of Troika Dialog, one of the oldest and largest investment banks in Russia and the CIS, before the merger with Sberbank in January 2012. Mr. Vardanyan is a Board Member at numerous entities in Russia and abroad, including universities and business schools in Japan, Brazil and Russia. He is a founding partner of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO and Vice-Chairman of SKOLKOVO International Advisory Board. An active philanthropist in both Russia and Armenia, Mr. Vardanyan is engaged in a number of development projects and is leading several initiatives aimed at advancing Armenia, including UWC Dilijan College, a world-class educational institution which he co-founded in Dilijan, Armenia. Mr. Vardanyan is a frequent recipient of international awards for his leadership and business acumen, including Fortune magazine’s 25 Rising Stars (2001) and World Economic Forum’s 100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow (2001). He is a holder of the Order of St. Mesrop Mashtots (2011) and the Order of St. Gregory the Illuminator (2013), the highest award of the Armenian Apostolic Church.
Mr. Vardanyan began by sharing his unique story to success – starting from nothing to running the largest investment bank in Russia. In the 1980s when it was clear that the Soviet Union was going to collapse, he had two options: stay or leave. Staying would be risky, but he realised the immense opportunities that would arise following huge transformations in the system. As a banker following the collapse of the Soviet Union, Mr. Vardanyan began professionalising his firm during a time when there were no rules and ample criminals. Initiating a partnership model and working with people from around the world together in Russia, Mr. Vardanyan's firm aimed to build professional standards that previously did not exist, such as standards for stock exchange and securities exchange commission. Mr. Vardanyan valued honesty and integrity very highly and made that his personal trademark. After his dream of building a successful investment bank according to international standards in Russia was realised, Mr. Vardanyan noticed there was a huge divide between the NGO, private and public sector, none of which were effectively working together. Charities are often driven by emotions whilst business is result oriented.
Mr. Vardanyan began working with partners in Armenia to develop a model to improve the lives of Armenians through the development and regeneration of tourism. An example of such a leveraged approach is the Tatev project: by bringing together the private sector, government, private investment and international organizations to make long-term investments in bottom-up, demand-driven change, this model has generated 1.2 million dollars in revenue in Armenia last year. This model can be used to raise GDP and increase employment in other countries. Mr. Vardanyan explained there are four models of system transformation: evolution, reform, inquisition and revolution.
In his talk, Mr. Vardanyan described the five driving forces of success: fear, power, money, recognition and fun. He explained how every individual is driven differently and how helpful it is to understand your personal weighting of these five forces. Mr. Vardanyan believes that by focusing his energies on understanding how the world is becoming more connected and implementing programmes that are measurable and impactful both financially and societally, he has been successful throughout his career. Mr. Vardanyan answered a range of questions from the Scholars including whether philanthropists’ projects are aligned with government priorities, how philanthropists and governments best partner, how to measure the success of philanthropic investments, and why founding the United World College school in Dilijan is complementary to the other needs in Armenia’s education system and economy. He recommended Jeff Sutherland’s book Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time.