My first job: Sergey Pchelintsev


East-West United Bank CEO Sergey Pchelintsev's says his first salary of 15,000 rubles (about US $30) was barely enough to live off of for a full month. Photo: courtesy EWUB 

East-West United Bank CEO Sergey Pchelintsev looks back at the experiences that shaped his career. 

Do you remember your first salary? 

Definitely, I do! I doubt there are many people who forget such a symbolic moment in this new stage of their adult life. It was spring of 1993, after graduating from the Moscow Aviation Institute, when I joined a very prominent design bureau in the aerospace industry as an engineer. It was the time when the country [Russia] was struggling with a severe economic crisis, with a double-digit monthly inflation rate and currency being in free fall. So, my first salary, totally around 15,000 rubles (about US $30), was barely enough to live through the month, buying basic food only. 

Had you had other paid activities before? 

Yes, I did. Those were several jobs as a student in the summertime. One year, I spent a month picking vegetables. Another year I spent two months doing general works at a construction site. Such activities were very popular among students since they could provide substantial support to a student’s modest budget. During my last two years before graduation, I had a summer internship in the aerospace industry--a negligible job in terms of money earned, but a very interesting and educational one. 

What did you treat yourself to when you received your first salaries? 

I went to the nearest exchange booth and purchased US dollars, as our national currency was losing 1% of its value every second day during that year.

Are you a spender or a saver?

By personality, I’m inclined to be more of a saver but luckily my wife has taught me to be much more reasonably balanced, as she reminds me that life is short, and we have to enjoy it here and now. Not to say that more and more policymakers around the globe take numerous steps to ‘penalise’ savers and to ‘encourage’ spenders. So, as they say in financial world, ‘don’t fight central banks’!

What’s your favourite money maxim?

Money often costs too much.