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'I Chose Economics And Statistics As I Believe That Knowledge of How to Analyze Data Can Significantly Improve People's Lives'

Valeriia Gladkova, a third-year student of the Economics and Statistics undergraduate programme, talks about her experience of studying at HSE University. Valeriia won three case championships during AY 2020-21 and we wholeheartedly congratulate her on this success!

'I Chose Economics And Statistics As I Believe That Knowledge of How to Analyze Data Can Significantly Improve People's Lives'

It has always been my dream to become a student of the National Research University Higher School of Economics (a.k.a. HSE University) because my brother presented his student's life to me when I was a child. He also studied at the Higher School of Economics 10 years ago. The HSE University is the best university in Russia. It is in first place in rankings. I'm currently studying towards my bachelor's degree in Economics and Statistics. I chose this undergraduate program as I believe that knowledge of how to analyze big data can significantly improve people's lives. I have several courses in the second semester including Microeconomics, Multidimensional Statistical Methods, and Essentials of Programming and Databases. Besides studying, I’m currently participating in the volunteering movement and in a wide range of case championships. My hobbies are photography, dancing, and drawing. 

Moving to Moscow and living here was a bit challenging for me. I study here at a new campus which was opened just two years ago. At HSE students have an opportunity to study at the library both day and night. There are also gyms in my dormitory and on campus. We have a lot of activities, like dance, tennis, yoga, and various sports teams to join like frisbee, soccer, swimming, basketball, and so on. 

After the pandemic emerged, we studied a lot online and in hybrid mode. It's OK, but exams seem to be harder. Between April and June, I did an internship at Puma. After that, I became a Data Scientist at another company, Ferrero Group. I also have a dream to go abroad and study at a European university as an exchange student. 

Overall, I had a chance to participate in five case championships and won three of them. A lot of Russian companies and international firms' local branches invite students to solve their challenges. They want to know our opinion on their problems. I was the one who put the team together. As I searched for my teammates online, I didn't know any of them before. 

When you participate in the case competition, you have a lot of opportunities from these companies for whom you solve the cases. When I won my first case championship, we had a lot of attention from the staff of these companies. Changellenge sends you a special letter with the career bonuses, where winners can find information about vacancies and positions. For example, my last case championship was 'Cup Russia 2021'. The organizers and partners of this case tournament were such famous brands as Bain & Company, Procter & Gamble, and Ferrero Group. I have a lot of bonuses in these companies. I can go to a job interview, for example, with them. A typical case championship lasts for a couple of weeks. It’s really hard work when you get in. You have a lot of deadlines and the case needs a lot of work. The team has to prepare a presentation of dozens of slides with the group's findings. In my first case championship, I presented my solution with my peers on the stage, we had our presentation on the blackboard. It was offline. After the pandemic started, it was online in Zoom. There were a lot of sessions and people were watching as we presented our solution. It is an experience that allowed me to see how business works and how to deal with problems of this business. I could call it a demo version of a real business challenge. It is a great way to meet new people, get acquainted with the companies, and prepare for a future career. 

When I participated in such case competitions within a team of four people, once we had to develop an innovative marketing strategy for Ferrero. The secret to winning was a friendly atmosphere in the team where everybody gets along very well. We divided all tasks between us. In the future, I want to participate in the 'McKinsey Business Diving' case tournament for third-year students.

The typical participant of the case championships is a person of my age, but there were teams that consisted of older participants. I saw this situation in the 'Cup Russia 2021' case. In some competitions, there are even more than four thousand participants. There are three rounds: the qualifying stage, semi-final, and final. In the final, you need to present your case solution. In the second round, there are questions from judges and from other teams and last but not least there is a blitz in front of a panel of jury members. Hundreds of HSE University students participate in these competitions. We usually work together a lot during the tournament, each teammate on average spends 10 hours a day. In Ferrero's case, for example, we were asked to create a special community and a marketing strategy for Nutella lovers and to find new ways to enrich the company's audience. 

The case championships from Changellenge company have an English section where you get your tasks in English and you present your presentations in English. It was really hard even though I started to learn English from the first grade at school. The presentations were watched by thousands of people.

We wrote our solution for the 'Cup Moscow 2020' championship on Google Docs and during our presentation, the corporation's services went down. I don't know how we were so lucky and precautious to save it. I was the one who saved a backup copy. So, remember to save your work and make a backup of your work! 

Maybe in five or ten years from now, I will become a business lady. I want to have an excellent career and learn from the best and work with the best. Maybe, I will attend a business school and get an MBA. I have already got an invitation from IE Business School, a famous university in Spain. 

During one 2020/2021 academic year, Valeriia took part in three all-Russia case championships: Future Tech from the Innovation Agency of the Moscow Government, 'Changellenge >> Cup Moscow 2020', and 'Changellenge >> Cup Russia 2021'. All these tournaments are highly valued among both universities and leading international companies. Students solve business challenges for corporations from different industries (FMCG, industry, banks, medicine) and present their solutions to representatives of partner companies. Participation in such championships is a great opportunity to try yourself in different roles. 

The first case championship of the season was Future Tech from the Innovation Agency of the Moscow Government. Valeriia led a team of HSE students from various faculties (the Faculty of Economic Sciences, the Faculty of World Economy and International Affairs, and the Graduate School of Business) to victory. The students proposed the best solution in the natural sciences section for the Russian start-up Gazokhim Techno, defining the conditions for the profitability of the gas processing unit and its optimal configuration. 

More than 400 teams took part in the case championship 'Changellenge >> Cup Moscow 2020'. The team, which included Valeriia, took first place in the English section. Valeriia made a significant contribution to the victory by preparing a winning strategy for launching a new soft drink for the Russian market, developing a marketing strategy for the chickenpox vaccine, and working out the specifics of forming a community for chocolate paste lovers. 

As part of another championship, 'Changellenge >> Cup Russia 2021', Valeriia assessed the creditworthiness of a coal mining company and developed a go-to-market strategy for a new steel product. According to experts, the team's decisions were recognized as the best among 390 teams from all over the country.

Congratulations to Valeriia on her incredible achievements! 

Interview prepared in collaboration wtih the summer intern at the Faculty of Economic Sciences Ms. Camryn Norwood, student at the University of South Carolina

All photos used in this publicaiion were provided by Valeriia Gladkova