Zhanna Kryuchkova was recently named one of the best EMBAs of 2016 by Poets and Quants, a leading business school-focused publication.

Zhanna is currently owner of Almaz Group, a holding focused on car sales and services for world-class automotive brands in the Ukraine. She is a founder and managing partner at Jansen Capital Management, a management consultancy. Zhanna is also a member of the board of directors for the construction company Stikon Ltd.

The 44-year-old executive and entrepreneur is based in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine and attended Ukraine’s National State University as well as IMD’s Advanced Strategic Management prior to the IMD EMBA.

Poets and Quants interviewed her about her experience at IMD on the occasion.

Favorite EMBA courses? Strategy, Finance.

Why did you choose IMD’s executive MBA program? There were several factors that led me to this program: I was looking for a diverse representation of nations and industries, which IMD offered; it had been strongly recommended to me by a former IMD student, a bright and successful entrepreneur whom I respect; and before I decided to enroll in the EMBA program I attended several short-term programs with IMD and found those to be a great experience. It was “real world, real learning.” I followed my heart and my head and have been extremely satisfied.

What did you enjoy most about IMD? Working in dynamic teams with high-caliber classmates who have strong entrepreneurial interests and come from diverse backgrounds and industries.

What was the most surprising thing about IMD? I highly appreciate that IMD engages not only our minds but also our bodies. No matter how exhausted from a long day in the classroom, I was proud when I mustered the willpower and participated in evening sports with my classmates. The physical activity and the joy of play renewed our energy for each next intensive day in the classroom.

What is your best advice for juggling work, family, and education? Ideally we should move away from viewing the situation as juggling work, family, and education and embrace the mindset of “life balance” so that we can take a holistic view of our lives instead of departmentalizing them. My advice is to integrate all elements whenever possible and to enjoy the flow. Life will be much easier if you write your assignments for the company you work for, so there is no big gap between your work and studies, and probably it can be rewarding to share what you are learning at business school with members of your family. It can be great fun.

What’s your best advice to an applicant to your Executive MBA program? The IMD Executive MBA is a great experience, which will develop you professionally and interpersonally as well as open new career doors. But in return, you will need to be prepared to sacrifice socializing with your friends, your hobbies, your sleep, etc. Make sure you are aware and willing to give all that up as you make this 1.5-year commitment, otherwise you may end up frustrated and reversing gears in the middle of the journey.

What are your long-term professional goals? I don’t have a specific long-term plan. I may start a new business, work for a nonprofit, or head a state-owned company. For me, business and knowledge are the primary tools that can be leveraged to aid and advance our society.

Fun fact about yourself: At the age of 22, for the first time in my life, I visited a casino. That night I played blackjack and won enough to allow me to buy something I wanted so badly — my first car. I have not played in a casino since, but my further professional life became firmly connected to cars.

What made Zhanna such an invaluable addition to the class of 2016? “With more than 16 years as a business professional, Zhanna has experienced a rich and diverse career including work in large ‘corporate’ industry, being a successful entrepreneur and directing as a board member for a large construction firm in the Ukraine. Her varied career path says a lot about who she is — a talented and accomplished global executive. Her diverse experience adds to the rich learning environment of her class of 50 professionals — with an average age of 41 years old — who represent 28 nationalities and as many industries. Twenty-five percent of Zhanna’s class are accomplished female executives. Zhanna adds a philosophical calmness with a brazen pragmatism to the class and a valued perspective from Eastern Europe with a strong passion for actively contributing to the welfare of society and her country,” said Terry Akitt, EMBA Program Manager at IMD.


This article is based on extracts from a Poets and Quants piece by Jeff Schmitt.