Mikhail Shelkov: On Business and Charity
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Biography: From Banker to Philanthropist
Mikhail Shelkov, the renowned entrepreneur and philanthropist, has emerged as a driving force in the business world, leaving a lasting mark on various industries while simultaneously championing social causes. From his very beginnings to his rise in the realms of finance and metallurgy, Shelkov’s dedication, innovative approach and business plan have earned him a place among the most influential businessmen.
Born on May 30, 1968, in Moscow, Shelkov displayed exceptional brilliance from an early age. After graduating from the prestigious Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) in 1991 with a degree in molecular and chemical physics, he started a journey that would shape his professional career.
In 1993, at a time when financial institutions were still navigating a changing local economic landscape, Shelkov took the helm at Eurosibbank. Demonstrating astute strategic thinking, he transformed the bank’s fortunes, positioning it as a major player in the industry. Just two years later, Shelkov’s exceptional leadership propelled him to the board’s chairman position, solidifying his reputation as a relentless trailblazer. Later, in 1995, he took the lead of RBRD, showcasing his versatility and keen business acumen.
However, it was in 2001 that Shelkov truly made his way into the upper echelon of national entrepreneurs. Taking the reins of Prominvest, an investment holding company, he spearheaded a series of transformative initiatives that accumulated attention from his peer businessmen. Under his guidance, Prominvest flourished, cementing Shelkov’s status as an expert in the field of investments.
Yet, Shelkov’s entrepreneurial prowess did not stop there. In a bold move that surprised many industry experts, he acquired a controlling stake in VSMPO-AVISMA, a leading global enterprise in the titanium sector, between 2012 and 2014. This audacious move established him as a major player in the metallurgical industry. Today, as the majority shareholder of VSMPO-AVISMA, Shelkov adds his strategic vision, propelling the company to new heights.
Not content with conquering the titanium industry alone, Shelkov set his sights on the aluminum market. As the owner of the Samara Metallurgical Plant (SMZ), one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, he has proven time and again that his entrepreneurial intuition is a robust companion.
In 2017, Shelkov’s dedication and innovative thinking were recognized when he made his first appearance on the Forbes list of the “200 Richest Russian Businessmen.” With a staggering capital of $500 million, he ranked 200th. Since then, his meteoric ascent has been nothing short of remarkable, landing him in the impressive 29th position.
However, what truly sets Shelkov apart from some of his peers is his compassion and commitment to giving back to society. In 2019, he founded the Empathy Charitable Foundation, a testament to his belief in supporting community-oriented education, culture and science projects. Through this foundation, Shelkov has empowered countless individuals and communities, leaving an everlasting impact on society.
Furthermore, Shelkov has also demonstrated his unwavering support for the arts and creativity. Since 2018, he has been a private investor in Tula’s Oktava creative industrial cluster. By fostering an environment where innovation and artistic expression flourish, Shelkov has contributed to the revitalization of the local cultural landscape, attracting talent and inspiring the next generation of creators.
As Mikhail Shelkov continues to challenge norms, his passion and unwavering commitment to philanthropy inspire others to dream bigger and make the world better.
Oktava Cluster: A Thriving Creative Hub
In a city once synonymous with its industrial prowess, the Oktava creative cluster has emerged as a beacon of hope, injecting new life and inspiration into the heart of Tula. Mikhail Shelkov founded this project, revitalized an abandoned factory and shaped a thriving creative hub where art, education and technology converge harmoniously.
Devoting over $10.5 million of his own resources, Shelkov’s dedication to propelling Tula’s cultural renaissance is evident at every corner of Oktava. Nestled within the premises of the old factory, this vibrant space offers a diverse range of opportunities for creative individuals and entrepreneurs alike.
At Oktava, one can immerse oneself in a rich tapestry of events, from concerts to master classes, lectures to exhibitions. It is a testament to Shelkov’s unwavering commitment that the local community and the local government have rallied behind this project, recognizing its potential for future generations.
Unquestionably, the Oktava Cluster has cemented its reputation both as a cultural hub and an educational haven. The renowned Oktava Lab recording studio and the Higher Technical School, which offers advanced training for industrial executives, stand together as the hub of knowledge and innovation. By intertwining the realms of art, education and technology, Shelkov has built a fertile ground for collaboration and exchanging ideas.
A carefully curated library serves as a haven for contemplation and creativity within the Oktava Cluster. Visitors can lose themselves in the narratives that gush through the pages of history, taking inspiration from the countless stories that reside within its halls.
Not to be missed within this bustling collective of creativity is the Machine Tool Museum. Poignantly preserving the legacy of Tula’s machine tool industry, the museum unveils the secrets hidden beneath the veins of the city. It captures the industrious spirit that once defined Tula, paying homage to the artisans and labourers whose toil laid the foundations of the Oktava Cluster.
But beyond its physical attributes, Oktava reignites the spark of community. Its café serves as a melting pot of diverse minds, where collaborations emerge, ideas are birthed, and dreams are chased. The coworking centre buzzes with ingenuity and entrepreneurial spirit as artists and innovators exchange knowledge, fostering an environment ripe for serendipitous encounters and unexpected partnerships.
The Oktava Cluster is far more than just a renovation project; it is a testament to the transformative power of creative vision. Mikhail Shelkov’s belief in Tula’s potential has breathed life into the forgotten factory. Through art, education and integrating technology, Oktava is shaping the city’s creative trajectory and inspiring others to take up the mantle of change.
Empathy Foundation: A Road to an Equitable Education System
In an age where knowledge-seeking resembles a battleground of disproportion and privilege, one man decided to step up to champion the cause of mass education. Mikhail Shelkov, founder of the Empathy Charitable Foundation, firmly believes that improving the system starts with empowering teachers and providing opportunities for young talents.
In a recent interview, Shelkov passionately expressed, “Our teachers hold the future of society in their hands.” He firmly rejects the idea of elite schools for the privileged few, instead advocating for the transformation of mass education itself. With this vision in mind, Shelkov has been tirelessly working to support teachers and bring about much-needed changes in the school system.
Shelkov’s philanthropic endeavours are particularly focused on the Sverdlovsk and Tula regions, where he provides financial support to ensure that teachers have decent working conditions. Recognizing that without this support, the necessary changes in the education system cannot be implemented, Shelkov’s foundation has made a significant impact.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key initiatives undertaken by the Empathy Foundation:
1. Support for school teachers in the towns of Verkhnyaya and Nizhnyaya Salda:
Under the foundation’s program, each teacher in these towns receives an additional monthly 50% bonus. With a total payout of over $670 000 in the first year alone, 537 teachers have been provided with much-needed support.
2. “Teaching as a Calling” competition (Tula Region):
In collaboration with the local government, Shelkov established a competition to nurture talented teachers and unlock their creative potential. This competition provides a platform to showcase their skills and inspire others to follow in their footsteps.
3. Refresher courses for teachers:
Recognizing the importance of continuous professional development and preventing burnout, the Empathy Foundation regularly launches free training programs tailored to teachers’ needs. These programs cover diverse topics chosen by the teachers themselves, ranging from IT to soft skills. The increasing number of participants attests to the success and impact of this initiative.
In addition to their work with educators, the Empathy Foundation also extends its support to young talents, identifying their potential and providing avenues for growth. Here are some notable projects that empower young minds:
1. Accelerator for teenagers “Workshop – Salda 2.0”:
54 schoolchildren in Verkhnyaya and Nizhnyaya Salda, the Sverdlovsk Region, took part in the first engineering accelerator organized by the Empathy Foundation. Over the course of nine months, these teenagers developed projects aimed at improving their hometowns. Now, under the guidance of the foundation and according to their plans, a “boiling point” or a kind of co-working, eco-infrastructure, and other facilities are being built, turning their visions into reality.
2. Courses on astronautics and programming for school children:
Partnering with the Summer Space School and the ROBBO company, the Empathy Foundation organized training courses for school children, covering subjects like astronautics, astrophysics, space engineering and software programming. These courses impart knowledge and inspire young minds to explore the vast realms of science and technology.
3. “Psychological Workshop” for teachers, school children and parents:
Recognizing the crucial role of emotional well-being in the learning environment, the Empathy Foundation launched a comprehensive project bringing together teachers, parents and students. This program includes seminars on various psychological aspects of education and allows participants to seek personalized advice from experts.
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