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Max Kraynov: Helping Russians Travel for Less

Published: June 11, 2014 (Issue # 1815)



  • The Russian-born managing director of Aviasales now resides in Australia.
    Photo: Aviasales

Max Kraynov is the Russian-born managing director of Russia’s largest travel search engine, Aviasales. The search engine helps customers find cheap flights and holiday accommodation online or via its apps (operating under the JetRadar brand outside Russia). While the company is based in Thailand, Kraynov works from sunny Australia, adding to the company’s international flavor.

The St. Petersburg Times met with Kraynov, who was in St. Petersburg at the end of May, to discuss the differences in the Russian and Australian working culture, the growing success of Aviasales in the Russian travel industry and the company’s future plans.

Q: How did you find yourself living in Australia?

A: When I graduated from Russia’s Samara State University in 2001, specializing in applied mathematics, I moved to New York City to work as a programmer. During the day I worked as a programmer in a bank, while at night and on the weekends I spent time working on my own company developing technologies for mobile content such as ringtones, wallpapers and videos — a growing trend at that time. However, in 2006, I sold my company, called Unwiredtec, to then Australia-based Mobile Messenger and moved to Australia as part of the deal. While in Australia, I got my MBA and spent some time working for the local telephone company Optus.

In August 2011, I joined Aviasales, with whom I’d consulted on an on-and-off basis for a couple of years prior. By that time, almost all the staff of the company that was initially founded in St. Petersburg had moved to Thailand. From the beginning, I always said I would never move to Thailand since my family was settled in Australia.

Q: You have experience working in three completely different countries: Russia, the U.S. and Australia. How does the business culture differ in each?

A: Well, in Russia the idea of being a boss makes one believe that the employees are inferior. Therefore the culture sees people wait patiently for what the boss has to say. This is called “power distance” and it is still very popular in Russia, rooted in the country’s culture for centuries. It was how the country survived.

In Australia, however, the story is completely different. Australia is quite a young country, so the “power distance” culture is virtually non-existent because everyone started from the same place. Therefore the relationship between the boss and his or her employees is much more relaxed. However, I feel it makes people set less ambitious goals for themselves, whereas in Russia, businessmen tend to set very ambitious goals for themselves, which is still nice to see.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Thursday, Jan. 29



Attend a master class on how to deal with complicated business negotiations today at the International Banking Institute, 6 Malaya Sadovaya Ulitsa. Running from 3 to 6 p.m., Vadim Sokolov, an assistant professor at the St. Petersburg State University of Economics, will introduce aspects of managing the negotiation process and increasing its effectiveness. Attendance is free with pre-registration by telephone on 909 3056 or online at www.ibispb.ru



Celebrate what would be writer Anton Chekhov's 155th birthday at the Bokvoed bookshop at 46 Nevsky Prospekt. Starting at 5 p.m., the legendary author will be feted with readings of his stories and short performances based on his plays by various St. Petersburg actors. Chekhov's books will also be offered at a 15% discount during the event.



Friday, Jan. 30



The Lermontov Central Library, 19 Liteyny Prospekt, will screen 'Almost Famous’ in English with Russian subtitles at 6:30 p.m. Cameron Crowe's Academy Award-winning comedy from 2000 stars Billy Crudup, Kate Hudson, and Patrick Fugit, and tells the story of a budding music journalist at Rolling Stone magazine in the 1970s. Admission is free.



Meet renowned Russian poet, journalist and writer Dmitry Bykov, famous for his biographies of Boris Pasternak, Bulat Okudzhava and Maxim Gorky, and winner of 2006 National Bestseller Award. Bykov will read old and new poems as well as answer questions about his works at the St. Petersburg Philharmonic, Main Hall, at 7 p.m. Tickets start at 1,000 rubles and are available at city ticket offices and the from the Philharmonic website www.philharmonia.spb.ru.



A retrospective of the films of Roman Polanski starts today at Loft-Project Etagi, 74 Ligovsky Prospekt, with a screening of ‘Repulsion’ at 7 p.m. and ‘Rosemary’s Baby’ at 9:15 p.m. The series runs through Feb. 4 and will include Polanski's eminently creepy ‘The Tenant,’ the cult comedy ‘The Fearless Vampire Killers’ and ‘Cul-de-sac’ among others. Tickets are 150-200 rubles and the complete schedule is available at www.vk.com/artpokaz/



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