Interview with Gazprom Neft’s Deputy CEO for Administration, Vitaliy Baranov.
Before the end of this year Gazprom Neft intends to relocate its corporate centre: this autumn the company’s headquarters will move from Moscow to St Petersburg. Vitaly Baranov, Deputy CEO of Gazprom Neft, talked to the correspondent from Siberian Oil about the move and related plans and prospects.
— What are the reasons for moving the corporate headquarters of Gazprom Neft to St Petersburg?
— It is the logical conclusion to the transfer of the company to the northern capital, a decision taken by the shareholders in 2006. After the decision was made Gazprom Neft was reregistered in St Petersburg and plans were made to build a new social and business complex, which would include the company’s headquarters. Late last year a decision was taken to move the project to another region of the city and, in accordance with that, the deadline for completion of the complex was extended. However, we will still be relocating on time.
— When making these plans were the past experiences of other companies taken into consideration?
— There is practically no precedent for the kind of project we have taken on. Past relocations by foreign companies were not really considered as reference points. People in the West tend to live near their place of work, and the standard of life hardly varies from one city to another. It’s very different here, and for Russians relocation means a lot of stress and a high level of risk. I will refrain from evaluating whether the move is good or bad, but it’s definitely a challenge for us all.
— And what do the company’s employees think about the move?
— First and foremost it presents new opportunities. The company will inevitably see some big changes, some of the staff will remain in Moscow and, accordingly, vacant positions will open up allowing the more proactive members of the company to show themselves. Secondly, the relocation is a clear indicator of loyalty to the company, and I consider it important for people to consider the company and its work as their own, and to connect their lives and future careers with Gazprom Neft. It is in our best interest to keep hold of those highly-qualified professionals who really want to work for the company.
— Will assistance be provided in resolving the social and domestic issues which will inevitably accompany any move?
— The company has developed a program of compensation for costs associated with the relocation of employees and their families. In my personal opinion the conditions being offered are very good — not only will the employees continue to receive the wages they were paid in Moscow, the company will also be providing relocation allowances, contributions towards rented accommodation etc. We are also prepared to help our employees to solve issues related to family arrangements — for example, we will be able to assist with finding kindergartens and schools for employees’ children. The Chief Executive Officer has sent a letter to the Governor of St Petersburg, requesting the nomination of a responsible vice-governor to assist Gazprom Neft during the move. The governor entrusted this responsibility to Mikhail Oseyevsky, with whom I am in direct contact.
— Why did you choose this location for your office? Did you consider other options?
— The original idea was to take up residence in the office near Pulkovo airport. This would be convenient because Gazprom Neft employees often travel on business trips, and the traffic jams in St Petersburg are similar to those in Moscow. However, after receiving feedback from our colleagues, we decided to abandon this idea — people want to work in the city centre, not on the outskirts. In the end we decided upon the Quatro Corti complex of buildings, not far from St Isaac’s cathedral and the Bronze Horseman. We have no doubt that this is the office we want! Gazprom Neft is a successful company, and we believe that we have earned the right to work in the best office in the city.
— How do you personally feel about this relocation and, more specifically, returning to your hometown?— It presents me with new opportunities too. From a professional point of view, perhaps my responsibilities will grow. There will be a need to interact with the city at large — after all, we will be the biggest taxpayer in town. It is interesting for me. On a more personal note I will face the same issues as other people — finding a new apartment and a kindergarten for my five-year-old. Regarding the apartment, perhaps I will find one with a view of St Isaac’s cathedral or the Neva — I’ve never had that before. There will certainly be new opportunities, and that is why I have such a positive outlook on the relocation.