Dear friends!

Another year of our lives has passed into history! It seems that it was new not so long ago, yet we’re already bidding it farewell! Here at SPIBA we are doing so with the satisfaction of our common achievements. December has already given us the darkest and longest night, and now each day brings extra minutes of light. Congratulations on the road towards spring!

Creativity and entrepreneurship: our everything, the driving principle of SPIBA! The most creative SPIBA committee, the committee on marketing and communications, at a working meeting on December 5 exchanged fresh ideas that will make 2012 even more interesting and exciting! Spring is coming and we already have proposals from the SPIBA spring collection! We have prepared an action plan for the first half of 2012.

On December 6 the first meeting of the co-chairs of all SPIBA committees was held. While this format is new for our association, this meeting made clear the idea’s potential. These meetings will help to create stronger communication between the committees and will go beyond the usual content, organizing interesting events on areas of mutual concern.

On Wednesday, December 7, the finance committee held a meeting with the theme of “Outsourcing as a tool for optimizing business processes.” Galina Yurganova, vice president of Yota, shared her experience in the transfer of business processes to outsourced service providers. Galina emphasized the importance of building relationships with the provider as a partner for more effective cooperation. Next, Ludmila Shusterova made a presentation on the outsourcing of payroll and other accounting functions. Material related to the meeting can be found on our website.

In November we wondered which guest speaker would entertain the Associations’s members on Christmas Eve. At theGeneral Meeting of December 13, we agreed to invite Mr. Mark Seidenfeld to share his amazing and inspiring story, titled “The Christmas story: The amazing adventures of a foreigner in Russia and the CIS, a first hand account of his imprisonment with a happy ending.” The event was held in a discussion format with the participation of Derek Bloom, a partner in Capital Legal Services, the sponsor and co-organizer of the meeting. Mark’s story of injustice and cruelty at the hands of the Russian judicial system emphasized the fact that anyone can be held in pre-trial detention on the basis of a false accusation.

Interestingly, in spite of all his misfortunes, Mark managed to maintain optimism and a positive attitude towards Russia. How did he manage to adapt to life in a prison cell? What was the main factor for survival? It turns out that Mark was helped most of all by his ability to build relationships with people under any conditions. Mark was helped by strangers and friends who were willing to pass along information and, even more importantly, hope of release. Methods of communication with the outside world are as old as time, and have changed little from those described in the literature of Russian revolutionaries, prisoners of the Tsar. Mutual support and confidence in victory, coupled with professional legal assistance, can triumph over any odds. We suggest you glance at the photo album, where we’ve captured the positive and informal atmosphere of the Christmas general meeting. Looking at these pictures it’s hard to believe that the meeting was dedicated to such dramatic events. Remember to visit our facebook page, where you can find the full photo reports of events, comment on photos and learn about  upcoming  meetings.

On December 15 the newspaper “Vedomosti” held its annual conference, with the theme “The business landscape of the Northwest Region, 2011-2012: results of the year and points of growth.” SPIBA was a media partner of the conference, where participants discussed the prospects of economic development of the Northwest Region and made predictions about the development of various sectors, identified as the main social and economic trends for 2012, including banking and finance. Additionally, attendees discussed the possibilities for the development of industrial enterprises in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region and assessed the past year in the property market and the prospects and plans for the development of Pulkovo Airport.

SPIBA’s HR Committee organized a meeting on December 16 on “Internal clients and administrative staff: organizing effective interaction.” This event aroused great interest among HR directors and managers. On our website you can findpresentations from the meeting.

On December 20 the Committee on Legislation and Lobbying held a conference on the most relevant and critical issues of intellectual property rights in Russia in 2011. This conference marked the beginning of a period of renewal and revitalization of one of our oldest committees. Featuring the participation of experts from diverse fields, the issue was dealt with from a variety of perspectives. Tatiana Sapotkina, judge of the Federal Arbitration Court of the Northwest district, described the case law related to intellectual property. In connection with the entry of Russia into the WTO, we listened with great interest to a  presentation made by Alexander Sergeev, Doctor of Law, Professor, head of the Civil Law Department SPBSUEF, and advisor to the St. Petersburg office of DLA Piper. Alexander gave a general description of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property. Continuing the theme of judicial practice, we invited Igor Nevzorov, senior manager of Ernst & Young and head of group services for the protection of intellectual property, who prepared a presentation “On the revision of the limits of  exclusive trademark rights jurisprudence in 2011.” Oksana Nogina, advisor to the St. Petersburg office of DLA Piper and expert on tax and financial law, spoke about tax aspects of intellectual property. The conference was concluded by Igor Petrov, general director of Casto, whose presentation was dedicated to the protection of intellectual property rights by the customs authorities of the Russian Federation. All the presentations can be found by visiting the event’s page.

On December 22 members of our association were given a unique opportunity to meet the professor, expert, and speaker Yuriy Blagov, director of the PWC Center for Corporate Social Responsibility of the Higher School of Management. Yuriy held a seminar on “Relevant problems in the management of corporate social activity.” The seminar was interactive, and all participants were involved in the discussion, expressing their opinions and sharing their own experiences. It is also worth noting that the event was held in the building of Graduate School of Management, a remarkable example of 18th century St. Petersburg architecture. Fittingly, the building was erected by a Russian businessman and today houses a leading Russian business school. After the seminar, guests were offered a fascinating tour of the building. Those unable to attend the seminar can see pictures on our website.

Which event turned out to be the last one in 2011? Naturally, our homemade Christmas party! Thanks to all the friends of our association, who came to congratulate us, wish us a Happy New Year, and create a truly family atmosphere! Enjoy the pictures of event here!

We congratulate you on the New Year and thank you for having been with us this year! We look forward to memorable meetings, outstanding achievements and new successes in 2012!

And remember that despite the long, dark night of December 22, we have already entered onto the path of spring and a renewed flowering of SPIBA with the help of our members, friends and colleagues! We look forward to your responses to our questionnaire, as well as all your ideas and suggestions!