AmCham’s Alexis Rodzianko’s Russian Ties
Published: February 19, 2014 (Issue # 1798)
A descendant of tsarist Russia’s highest elected official, U.S.-born banker Alexis Rodzianko began speaking Russian before English.
His mastery of Russian and curiosity about his family’s former homeland eventually brought him to Moscow, where he built a stellar career over the following 18 years. His work in Russia included heading the local branches of JP Morgan and Deutsche Bank— where he even experienced first-hand some high-pressure tactics related to the Yukos case.
The son of Russian migrants to the U.S. has most recently taken up the job of promoting U.S. business interests here as president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Russia, or AmCham.
But it is not only deals that have kept him here so long: A longtime polo player, he also has a responsibility for his numerous horses.
“I have gotten involved in a hobby that requires a lot of attention, money and time,” he said. “I own quite a few horses. That means I cannot leave them without feeding them; that means I have to hire the people to take care of them, I have to supervise them.”
That hobby is something that provided a common ground for Rodzianko and billionaire Oleg Deripaska. A project by Deripaska to build a golf and polo club in the village of Tseleevo north of Moscow stuttered following the 2008 economic crisis, with only the golf course completed. Rodzianko agreed to finish the polo fields and the stables in exchange for a 10-year lease.
One of the most important representatives of the U.S. in Russia also passes his leisure time exploring his family’s history. Among the 62-year-old’s best-known ancestors is his great-grandfather Mikhail Rodzianko, chairman of the Russian Empire’s State Duma from 1911 to 1917. Another senior official in the family tree was Russia’s governor-general of Poland in the 19th century, Pavel Shuvalov, a relative on his mother’s side. It still remains to be researched whether Rodzianko and First Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov share the same kin.
The new AmCham president sat down with The St. Petersburg Times, soon after his appointment, to talk about his life experience.
Q: Why did you come to Russia and why have you stayed?
A: I first came to Russia for two-week stints back in the mid-1970s as an interpreter with a group of U.S. scientists and engineers during the early days of detente when the Soviet Union and the U.S. started trying to be friends by exchanging delegations in various fields. I worked with delegations on education and training, irrigation and drainage, and oil and gas.
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