Maxim Shashenkov, Vice-president, Alpha Holdings
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Maxim Shashenkov, Vice-president, Alpha Holdings

Bankers wishing to break into the Russian market should get acquainted with Maxim Shashenkov. He will shortly quit Merrill Lynch for Alpha Bank, one Russia's leading banks, where one of his tasks will be to establish joint ventures and partnerships between Alpha and foreign institutions. Drawing on his stockbroking background, Shashenkov will also be chief executive of Alpha Brokerage, the bank's capital-markets division.

In both roles, Shashenkov will be exploiting his talents as a western-educated Russian who can talk to foreign and Russian bankers and investors on their own terms. Such Russians are in big demand by the country's banks.

Aged 31 and having spent seven years in the UK, Shashenkov realized that while his prospects at Merrill were good, the opportunities in his home country were of historic proportions. Here was a once-in-a-lifetime chance to do something that would really count. But he had to act now. "This window of opportunity [to help reshape Russian banking] is only open for a short time," he says.

There are drawbacks, however, such as the security concerns that are a daily reality for all Russian bankers. Shashenkov's discussions with his new employer included reassurances that his safety - and that of his wife and eight-year-old daughter - could be guaranteed.

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