Max Kraynov: Helping Russians Travel for Less
Published: June 11, 2014 (Issue # 1815)
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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