Training: City's reputation is a magnet for new capitalists: 20 young managers from all corners of the former Soviet Union will be seeking skills here to effect changes at home

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The Independent Online
NOBODY can doubt that the former Soviet Union is going through great turmoil. But the countries emerging are eager to find people who can bring about further transformation, particularly in business.

As a result 20 young managers, identified as having the potential to effect change in their own country, will arrive here next month to begin work attachments with leading companies. Most will be from Moscow, others from the Baltic republics, the Ukraine and Alma-Ata in the far eastern republic of Kazakhstan.

The managers, who are between 25 and 35, will stay for up to 10 months as part of the Government's financial sector scheme, established in response to Boris Yeltsin's request to Norman Lamont, then Chancellor, for help with training. It was apparently the City's reputation that led Mr Yeltsin to choose Britain.

The British Council, which administers the scheme, expects that when it ends early in 1995, 1,000 managers, most from banking, law, insurance or accountancy, will have been on attachment with companies. These include Abbey National, KPMG Peat Marwick, Morgan Grenfell, National Westminster Bank and NM Rothschild.

An evaluation carried out in Moscow shows that returning managers are already helping to implement change. Some are employed in the Russian office of the UK host company, while others are handling bank privatisation; one lawyer, back in Moscow, has secured a contract to draft a substantial part of the new legislation.

Places on this scheme, which is financed by the Know- How Fund, are much sought after: only one in four applicants are chosen by the British Council in Moscow, after rigorous scrutiny.

'It's seen as the Rolls-Royce of training schemes - we take the cream of the crop,' explains Joanne Thomas, project manager. 'As well as good written and spoken English, candidates must have the ability to adopt new ideas and adapt to change. They already have two years' experience of financial services, so they have an idea of what a market economy means.'

Morgan Grenfell has supported the scheme since it began last year. The first manager had a banking background; he returned to join a project development bank that was starting in Moscow.

His successor, from Kiev, worked in an economics unit of the Ukrainian government; here she is attached to Morgan Grenfell's East European unit, which advises the Ukrainian government on privatisation.

Martin Drain, personnel manager, expects his company to place more managers. 'In addition to some technical knowledge they understand the east European culture,' he says.

On arrival in Britain managers spend one month at a university business school for market orientation and to acquire the language of business. Most attachments are in London, with a few in Leeds and Scotland. Consultants are also marketing the scheme to enable the British Council to add to its employers.

British Gas, the British Airports Authority and Clifford Chance, a City firm of solicitors, will take part for the first time by playing host to some of the November contingent.

Clifford Chance, which has offices in Budapest, Warsaw and Moscow, also runs a scholarship scheme with the Foreign Office and University College London.

Lawyers from the CIS, Poland, Hungary, the Czech republic and Slovakia spend a year at UCL to gain a master's degree in law, followed by a year with the company.

'We are creating a pool of lawyers in each country who will realise what the West expects of a lawyer and how they work,' says Tony Williams, a partner.

(Photograph omitted)