In the Right Place at the Right Time
CFO and vice president for strategic development and planning, Volia Cable, Ukraine
Valery Salyamov, MBA97, has lived up to expectations of the organization that offered him a chance to study in the United States: he returned to his homeland, contributed to the economic and democratic growth of his country, and served as a leader in his field.
Salyamov received a fellowship from the Edmund S. Muskie Graduate Fellowship Program, established by the U.S. Congress in 1992. Administered by the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX), the program provides educational opportunities for graduate students and professionals from the former Soviet Union’s newly independent states.
Since the program’s creation, more than 4,500 men and women from 12 countries have studied at more than 200 U.S. universities in such fields as business administration, economics, law, public health, and environmental management, among others.
Prior to enrolling at Iowa, Salyamov had little knowledge of business. His research at the Main Astronomical Observatory of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine was related to building terrestrial reference systems used among other things for missile navigation purposes and financed by the Soviet Space Mission Agency.
After the breakup of the Soviet Union, he says the funding for his research almost ended. Fortunately, he says, his math and English skills were excellent and that helped him qualify for the Muskie program.
Familiar with computers and skilled in computer programming in several languages, Salyamov chose to focus his MBA studies on finance and management information systems.
“I learned how a market economy functions, something that I never had been exposed to in the Soviet Union,” he says. “Courses in corporate finance taught me how to build financial models in 30 minutes so my balance sheet really balances.”
Through an internship with Cavitt Asset Management in Iowa City, Salyamov helped manage other people’s money, which is what he later did in Ukraine for a private equity management company. That proved to be his advantage over investment business colleagues.
“There was a huge deficit of professionals who understood the investment business, and I immediately received job offers when I returned home to Ukraine,” he says. “The markets were developing aggressively and MBAs were in high demand,” he says. “Recruiting agencies would ask ‘Do you have an MBA? Yes? Can you start today?’’’
Today Salyamov serves as the CFO and vice president for strategic development and planning of Volia Cable, the top cable TV operator in Ukraine. Volia Cable was founded by his former employer, SigmaBleyzer, through the consolidation of three separate companies acquired in 1999 and 2000. As CFO, he shaped the company’s three finance departments into one, which uses Western finance and accounting systems.
“Studying at Iowa changed my life,” Salyamov says. “I got new skills and knowledge, which led to a huge competitive advantage in my home country.”