Beware the Russian sense of humour

“You need a keep a sense of humour,” says Goodwin, who founded global recruitment company Antal International in 1993 and entered the Russian market in 1994. “The Russians can seem a bit harsh at times and their jokes can be a little cruel.”

He tells the story of how his employee flew out to Moscow for a meeting with a client. On his way back, he got lost and ended up in a dodgy part of the city.

“He rang the office and they told him not to move. They said they’d send ‘Yevgeny’ to pick him up,” says Goodwin. “After a very nervous 20 minutes standing around in a smart suit with an expensive briefcase, being eyed by rather threatening locals, a blacked-out Mercedes pulled up and he jumped in.

“He turned to the large individual sitting next to him and said, ‘Hi Yevgeny, I was getting really worried there’. As the car pulled off at high speed, his companion gave him a wolfish smile and said, ‘My name’s not Yevgeny’.

“Our man proceeded to have a minor heart attack before his ‘kidnappers’ burst into uproarious laughter.”

Read our feature on doing business in Russia in the September edition of Real Business magazine.

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