Featured case: Yuliana Slashcheva:
Is There Such a Thing as 'Female Leadership’?

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The case

Yuliana SlashchevaWho – the protagonist

Yuliana Slashcheva, chairwoman of the board of 'Soyuzmultfilm', Russia's largest animation studio.

What?

Yuliana has spent the last two and a half years transforming Soyuzmultfilm from near bankruptcy to a profitable venture. Just as she feels she can breathe easily again she is offered a leadership position in another organisation in crisis, the Maxim Gorky Film Studio. She is, however, unsure if she wishes to accept the offer.

Why?

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The case focuses on Yuliana’s personal and professional development and, specifically, her role as a leader. Having started her career at the age of 16, she has seen trials, crises, layoffs, faced personal managerial dilemmas and changed industries, all within the difficult context of an emerging market. Yet, today Yuliana is considered one of the most prominent female leaders in Russia. This case explores the direct relationship between this journey and her leadership style.

Where?

Soyuzmultfilm and Maxim Gorky Film Studios are based in Moscow.

When?

Yuliana started her career in 1994 as a Trainee at Mikhailov & Partners consulting company and worked her way up as a Partner, Director and then President. In 2013 she became the CEO of CTC Media and then the Chairwoman of Soyuzmultfilm in 2017.

Key quote

“I guess I know how to take care of employees, but I also set the highest goals and hold my people strictly accountable. I don’t believe there is ‘female’ or ‘male’ leadership. There are effective or ineffective leaders – both men and women.” – Yuliana on how to keep the right people by her side.

work-life balance

What next?

Yuliana’s story is one of a successful female leadership; having built a talented team of specialists around her and reversing the fortunes of an iconic but struggling animation studio, she is one of the most sought-after business leaders in Russia. This case shows how she has grown from an overconfident trainee, to CEO and Chairwoman, and looks at all the trials and issues that were overcome along the way.

At the end of the case, however, Yuliana is debating whether to take on a new company in crisis and how this will affect her work-life balance. For the first time, she is unsure whether she wishes to take on another crisis at another struggling firm.

 
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Yuliana Slashcheva: Is There Such a Thing as 'Female Leadership'?
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Teaching note
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The authors

author

Andrey Shapenko and Elizaveta Lobanova

Andrey and Elizaveta discuss why they chose a strong female protagonist for their case and how it inspires participants in their programmes.

Importance of a strong female protagonist

Andrey comments: “While over 40% of MBA candidates are women today, the vast minority of business cases in top business school have female protagonists, and nearly half of them do not include women at all. The case of Yuliana, who is a strong and successful business leader, gives a lot of inspiration to female participants on our programmes: they see that it is possible to keep a productive balance between their feminine nature and business success. At the same time, male participants can learn a lot from Yuliana as well.”

strong female protagonistHe continues: “Our MBA students gave feedback that there were not enough female protagonists in cases that they discuss on the programme. Initially, the case was written specifically for a female leadership programme, but participants of MBA and Executive MBA programmes can take a lot from it as well.”

Student impact

The authors state that: “One of the teaching objectives of this case is to demonstrate that an effective leader is caring and daring at the same time. On one hand, Yuliana is capable of building strong emotional bonds with her followers; on the other, she is very results-driven. We find that at the beginning of the case discussion, students characterise her in different ways and confront each other, but towards the end of the class, they see that an effective leader should demonstrate different sides of their personality.”

Interviews with YulianaInterviews with Yuliana

Andrey continues: “Like most leadership cases, this case would never have happened if we did not have access to Yuliana. Leadership is a very intimate topic, which requires a lot of self-reflection and in-depth discussions. Leaders are often represented in the media as heroes who do not have weaknesses, flaws or make mistakes - if so, there is nothing to learn from them. Participants should not only see a role model in a case, but they should recognise themselves in the protagonist.”

Plans for a follow up case?

The authors certainly concur that a follow up case could be on the cards – Andrey concludes: “Back in 2019, the major dilemma of the case was should Yuliana take or reject a new job offer to take the lead in a large film studio. In reality, she took the offer, so there is a definite potential for Case B, which would explore Yuliana’s future career and leadership path.”

About the authors

Andrey Shapenko is Associate Professor at Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO.
e andrey_shapenko@skolkovo.ru

Elizaveta Lobanova is an Analyst and Teaching Assistant at Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO.
e elizaveta_lobanova@skolkovo.ru

 

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