We continue the series of publications about the people who work in the SkyWay project organization, in CJSC "String Technologies". Last time we introduced you to the IT-support Department. Today, we will talk about those who are engaged in one of the most important directions: pre-design study.
Let us introduce to you Kirill Badulin, who until recently was the Head of the Department of Targeted Projects, and now – the Head of the Business Development Department.
- Good afternoon, Kirill! You head the Department of Targeted Projects, could you decode the name and tell us what your Department does?
-Good afternoon! First, we have undergone through the structural changes, and since October 1, a new Business Development Department has been created, the Head of which I was appointed. It means that the Department of Targeted Projects now has its own Head – Svetlana Voloshina.
In the new Department, in addition to the Department of Targeted Projects, there will be two other directions: the strategic development group and the group of perspective directions.
The strategic development group will develop the company's strategy. The second group will become a kind of business incubator, which will work on additional directions of the SkyWay technology: unimobile, intellectual fencing, linear cities, eco-houses, humus and others.
And the name "Targeted Projects" came from the SkyWay community. Our partners in the negotiations do not always understand it correctly, but targeted projects are the projects of the SkyWay transport and infrastructure complexes in various regions of the world.
- So, could you tell us now more about what the staff of the Department of Targeted Projects are directly involved in?
- The Department is primarily engaged in the preliminary assessment of the potential projects. That is, we are at the "front edge" of interaction with potential customers. We receive a letter, an incoming application, with a proposal or a request: this letter gets to be worked on in our Department, where we conduct a preliminary assessment of the project.
What is a preliminary assessment? Depending on the passenger traffic, geolocation, type of route, the level of income of the country, the cost of alternative investments and many other parameters, we choose the appropriate track structure, the rolling stock and make a preliminary calculation of the project cost.
For example, there was a request from one of the CIS countries to build a 300-km cargo track. In the process of work, it was found out that the cargo flow in this region is very low. Yes, you could also count on the passengers from the villages, and to think in the direction of the combination of cargo and passenger solutions. But to date, the delivery of goods that the customer needs, cost him $ 20 million. A track, according to the preliminary calculation, will cost $ 1.5 billion. It is profitable neither for the customer, nor for us. And if we find the offer profitable, then we start working on it after preliminary coordination with the customer.
That's what our Department does: gathers all the information, evaluates and provides a conclusion of how much the project will cost, how it will pay off, etc.
That is, we perform the very first stages of work on the projects. We will be followed by the Management of Design Works, Chief Designers, Rolling Stock Management, etc. It is important to note that not all projects reach these stages. And when they do reach these stages, then there starts a more detailed study by other departments on the basis of our outgoing data.
If I really simplify all this information, are you engaged in commercial offers?
- Partially, but in a little different way, as commercial offers are usually typical ones. And we are not only engaged in that, it is only one of the functions of the Department.
Our second function is to give the customer the estimatation how much the project will cost, as we have a specific product: we do not sell trains, or roads, but the transport systems and comprehensive transport services.
As with any system, our system also has components: transport flyovers, on which our vehicles will ride, the rolling stock, i.e. the vehicles themselves, and infrastructure – stations, power plants, switches. The cost of the project also depends on the number of stations. For example, the city needs stops every kilometer or 500 meters, and in this case, the share of the cost for the stations in the cost of the project will be higher. If the stations are planned rarely, the cost of the stations in the cost of the project will be insignificant.
This pre-project study is the main task of the Department of Targeted Projects.
- And how many people work in the Department of Targeted Projects?
- Today, there are 8 people, working in the Department, including Svetlana Voloshina, our new Head.
- What else do employees do every day?
They prepare various presentations on the current projects and on other areas of the SkyWay technologies. Sometimes, they do that for the customers, sometimes -- for our internal services. We work closely with the Information and Printing Department and with the Office of Design and Architecture for making the presentations at the highest quality level.
We also make reports, presentations, work at exhibitions. For example, in September 2018, we were actively working at the Innotrans 2018 exhibition in Berlin. After the exhibition, I made a presentation "Comparison of SkyWay with Other Modes of Transport" at the SkyWay Capital conference in Berlin. It happened just before I flew back to Minsk.
- Could you list what kind of specialists work in the Department of Targeted Projects?
- The analysts prevail here. Since proposals and applications can be in English, we have our own translator for proposals, presentations, contracts and other technical documents. We also have a designer who makes the documents of our Department presentable.
- Could you tell us please about the atmosphere in the team? How long have your employees been working here?
The atmopsphere in the Department is great! Throughout my work, since 2015, there have been different situations with the staff, but now, we can say that the "backbone" of real experts has been formed. And in September-October, two new analysts joined our staff. The girls have immediately been actively involved in the work, which pleases me.
- It turns out that you have practically a women's team?
- Looks like that. We have two males: the interpretor and me. The same question is also regularly asked by Anatoliy Eduardovich [Anatoliy Yunitskiy, General Designer, Chairman of the Board of Directors of CJSC "String Technologies"–editor's note.] There were males, attending the interviews, but from the professional point of view, they were weaker than the girls we took. I would love to "dilute" the team, but we have chosen the best specialists from all those candidates.
- Do you know something about hobbies of your employees?
- I know that one of the employees is fond of mountaineering and other tourist activities. Almost everyone likes to travel, which is logical, since it is connected with our work.
And what about you?
-- The Belorussian writer Anatoliy Borovskiy will write about me in his book "Heavenly Roads". He is writing the history of the SkyWay in a clear style for common people.
I'll open "the curtain" a little bit. I appeared to have been born on World Tourism Day, 27 September, and it left an imprint on my whole life. This year, for example, I have had an interesting and eventful vacation: in two weeks, I visited Greece, Malta, Spain and Portugal.
In general, if we talk about Europe, sometimes it is difficult to mention the countries and places where I have not been yet. In addition, travelling gives me a huge amount of information for work as well: I obtain the knowledge about the transport problems, and how they are solved in all the countries I travel in.
- Do you often go on business trips?
- I think, if compared with others, I do go on business trips relatively more often. Now an average, I have 1-2 business trips per month.
- You could say you've traveled halfway around the world. Do you mark all these places on the map?
- In one hotel in Spain there was a map of the world, and there were marked points in Norilsk, in Moscow, in Kiev, and the point for Belarus was empty. I took the flag from Europe and moved it to Minsk. Why not? Let them know our city! And yes, I do have a map, it was a gift from my colleagues, but so far, I have not filled it with the marks yet: lack of time because of the business trips [laughs].
I will tell you about my work and study experience, and you will understand everything about my travelling.
For 9 years, I worked in the banking system. My career ladder was from a leading specialist to the Chief Adviser, in the system of the National Bank including. Then, I worked at the company Atlant-M, when it was in the stage of active development. It was very exciting and interesting. And in 2008, I left for working in the oil industry. For nearly 3 years, I worked for the company, which is engaged in the export of oil products, and in it, I developed a system of hedging risks with the help of "swaps" and "futures". No one has ever done this in Belarus, and that innovation has brought the company a good profit. After that, I worked as Deputy Director for the Company Development at A-100 ADF, and for the period of 1.5 years, the number of petrol stations increased by 50%. Not everything thanks to me alone, but me including.
In addition to our Belorussian education, I have two trips abroad for educational training. The Applied Economic Policy Course was the first one: it was a three-month intensive Master of Public Administration course at the Joint Vienna Institute, where there were put together the modules which are usually studied in a year-course. It was not only an excellent training program, but also an opportunity to travel around Europe. After all, the train could take you from Vienna to Paris or Rome overnight, and it was wonderful!
And the second time, I was studying the program of US Department of State at the University of Alabama. It was a 4-month research program on financial markets.
- Great! How did you get to SkyWay?
- I came here having read an advertisement: before that I had not heard about the company. It was in the middle of 2015. I passed all the stages of interviews, and two weeks later, I started working.
- What did you like about the company?
I really liked the cool idea to change the world. I have made the immediate decision to apply my knowledge and experience for the benefit of such a wonderful project.
In 2015, the company had about a hundred people, and today, if you count all the divisions, there will be more than 700 people.
For our designers not to be distracted by communication with external customers, there is a Department of Targeted Projects. For example, when you need to develop a new type of vehicle. If a new demand comes from the market, and we have not implemented it yet, we start cooperating with our designers. The transport system should be made cheaper or accommodate more passengers. That is how new rolling stock can be developed. By the way, in such a way, there appeared a product which wasn't earlier in the cargo direction.
Initially, Anatoliy Eduardovich had the idea of two types of cargo systems: the one is mounted, a belt-rail endless conveyor, unitrans; and the second one -suspended, a unitruck. Now they are both implemented at the EcoTechnoPark.
The demand for transportation of sea containers came from the Asian market. It was the first request, and we tried to offer a solution from the available possible options, then the second request came. But after we began interacting with seaports more, such requests appeared more and more often. So, the developmet of a new vehicle was started, and got its name of unicont. Now it is under the development.
One employee of our Department offered a name for the vehicle-- unibike. Before, this vehicle was called "velounibus" ("bikebus"), but our translator found it less canorous and suggested the new name. When it was presented with bicycle pedals at the exhibition in Berlin for the first time in 2016, we told visitors how great it is, environmentally friendly and sportsmanlike.
We have a lot of different ideas in development. The idea of "the last mile", as an example. This is when you need to get from the terminal station to the hotel, and it is +30 and 100% humidity outside. Most people prefer to drive these 10 minutes in a taxi. Here's the station, a taxi is pulling up to it, you don't even need to call it, and so, on a regular basis, it runs back and forth. Yes, it is just like our "rout taxis". The idea is to implement our transport system as a transfer between the points: to get from the metro to the factory, Institute, museum or a large store. In this case, SkyWay can offer a multimodal solution, that is, to unite with other transport systems already created in a particular place.
In general, SkyWay strives to look at the problems comprehensively and not to remain within the framework of what was invented once. We are developing, getting acquainted with different cultures to offer what the market demands. And I personally, am really happy with this work!