About the study

CEO, HR, T&D and L&D leaders of large Russian companies talk about urgent educational needs.

Following the pandemic, restrictions and remote work in 2020, the priorities of employee training for 2021 have changed. At the end of 2020, SKOLKOVO Business School conducted an expert survey among representatives of large Russian companies with more than a thousand employees. Most of the respondents are heads of HR departments or divisions involved in staff development.

We received comments on the results of surveys from representatives of Russian companies, clients of the business school, representatives of different sectors of Russian economy, as well as professors who take an active part in educational programmes and studies.

The final part of this report is an overview of changes in executive education topics in world business schools from our partner and friend Alex Dolinskiy, co-founder of Coursalytics.com.

What will corporations teach their leaders in 2021?
Download the full version of the study

with additional analytics and comments from HRD companies and professors of the SKOLKOVO Business School

Key findings


56% of mid-sized companies and 76% of large companies

  • plan to continue running their executive education and development programmes in 2021

Top development priorities for companies

  • digital transformation and process optimization
  • cost reduction and operational efficiency

Most relevant topics of custom programmes

  • building highly effective teams
  • cross-functional collaboration
  • change management and digital transformation

Basic formats of learning and development programmes

  • internal and external online courses

Most relevant competencies and skills

  • change management
  • cross-functional collaboration
  • digital literacy

More than 55% of participants

  • describe the current situation in their companies as stable or as being on the rise.

A year of challenges for Russian business

We discovered that companies do not focus on the results of individual employees, but on the value of teams. According to the HR community the most in-demand competencies for 2021 are building effective teams and cross-functional collaboration. Dealing with uncertainty, organizations try to break down barriers between functions and to be more flexible. We expect 2021 to be a year of cross-functional teams and agile organizations.

Denis Konanchuk

Director for Custom Programmes of SKOLKOVO Business School

What are the companies' short-term priorities?

Base: 125 members (companies with >1000 employees)

Expert comments

Among other things, Tele2 intends to offer products and services that keep up with the pace of change. The term ‘client’ constitutes a broad concept in our company. The client can also be an employee of the company (internal customer). This strategy requires well-coordinated and effective cross-functional teamwork. For this reason, we keep building a customer-centric culture as part of our business thinking. This is our top priority for 2021.

Elena Ivanova

Deputy Director for Human Resources & Organisational Development at Tele2

What tasks do companies set for their employees for 2021 and beyond?

Expert comments

Soft skills are still relevant, and the turbulence of 2020 placed emphasis on them once again. Managers should learn how to build teams, motivate team members, be receptive and use opportunities. We will focus on solutions to perform several HR tasks at the same time. First of all, this is the combination of training with personnel assessment and career development.

Maria Golyandrina

Executive Director for Motivation, Training and Organisational Development at AFK Sistema

What do top and mid-level managers want to learn?

Expert comments

We build new teams and appoint new leaders who are endowed with great powers and get opportunities to make independent managerial and financial decisions. Our leaders run businesses, micro-businesses or micro-enterprises. At the initial stage, they need help with management, coordination of team activities and adaptation of new employees They need a certain minimum arsenal, which, so to speak, should be activated by our leader: be able to define and discuss general key goals, as well as roles of each team member, regularly give feedback, recognize merits of each employee, find solutions in case of failure, while applying elements of coaching and mentoring online.

Nadezhda Psherenkova

HR Director, Haier Russia

What problems, questions and tasks of leadership training are of concern to corporations?

Expert comments

There are questions that will be the focus of HR in the coming years.

  • Foundation of a self-developing organization, voluntary involvement of employees in the development. Flexibility and customization of learning resources. Moving away from corporate universities towards educational ecosystems.
  • How to gain new digital competencies. To teach or to search?
  • Process automation. What else can be automated to move beyond the human resource?
  • Adaptation of the leader to the digital world. How to change leaders’ views?
Svetlana Teselkina

Head of the Department of Personnel Training, Assessment and Development at Perekrestok (X5 Retail Group)

How have Executive Education topics changed in global business schools in 2021?

Alex Dolinskiy
Co-founder of Coursalytics.com

To observe changes in the business education market in 2020 and 2021, we have selected all open executive programmes first launched in 2020 and planned in 2021, which cost more than $ 500. The final analysis included 664 courses at 71 business schools worldwide.

Based on the analysis of several hundred new courses, it can be concluded that the business education market has changed rapidly.

In 2020 leadership was of interest to a wide range of companies. In 2021 change management is a high priority. More than two-thirds of the world's leading business schools are launching new programmes shifting the focus onto  change management this year.

At the same time, leadership, change management, as well as a number of other competences traditionally referred to as universal management skills (soft skills) are integrating thematic components of ESG: Environmental, Social and Governance. According to analysis of new leadership programmes, ESG components are often included in them.

Unique corporate educational solutions

SKOLKOVO has developed unique educational solutions that contribute to the implementation of strategic business goals by developing the potential of the company's employees.

Our mission is to get a better grip of challenges that our clients are facing and offer a set of modules and methods that best address those challenges. We therefore develop each programme on a custom basis.

Ft En
The Financial Times ranking
corporate clients
programme attendees

Download the full version of the study with additional analytics and comments from HRD companies and professors of the SKOLKOVO Business School

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