Hooray! Spring has come! The last month of winter has finally ended. SPIBA happily and warmly celebrated the arrival of spring and the Maslenitsa. The celebration was at the highest level, at the Constantine Palace! Leap year added an extra working day for us, which didn’t scare us at all!

Spring planting of new ideas in SPIBA begins! In March we will hold another strategic session, at which we want to discuss with our most active members the strategic opportunities for development of our association and strengthening the VOICE OF BUSINESS. The session will take place on 20th of March at 6 p.m.!

February 7 in conjunction with the British training company Canning we held a master class at the British Consulate General: “Masters in International Communication.” Jane Everett, senior consultant of Canning, presented new methods of effective international communication in a series of master classes, exercises and games. Master classes are devoted to negotiation in the international environment, communicating with international audiences, working in a multinational team, overcoming cultural differences, and effective communication in the international environment. You can see pictures in theevent album.

February 7 SPIBA was a partner of the Russian-British Conference “Strategies for improving energy efficiency.” The conference was held in cooperation with the Committee on Foreign Relations, Committee on Energy and Engineering of St. Petersburg and “Vodokanal of St. Petersburg.”

February 9 SPIBA’s Finance & HR Committee organized a meeting on changes in the law on social contributions. The speakers told the audience about the changes in premium rates in 2012, changes in premium rates for non-residents. The experts shared their experiences, discussed the certification of employment, rates of social contributions of the FSS, as well as the benefits of social contributions. Tatiana Zakharova, head of the administration of insurance premiums of FSS St. Petersburg answered the most relevant and timely questions of the participants.

February 16 our members held a meeting in the Look@It format. This time we visited a wonderful company: the Russian branch of the Finnish corporation Elisa. Participants were given the opportunity to feel like employees of the company: there was a demonstration of the latest video conference system and an opportunity to meet with Finnish colleagues. We looked into the heart of the call center and watched the way the company works on projects, saw the operator’s workplace, and even become a part of the process by making a call to the call center.

February 16 the Nordic Council of Ministers NORDEN organized a seminar in Arkhangelsk on “cooperation between the administration and law enforcement agencies, business organizations and NGOs.” The purpose of the workshop was to disclose the benefits of joint efforts to fight corruption, the evaluation of practical mechanisms of cooperation between the subjects of anti-corruption activities in the regions of Northwest Russia and the sharing of experiences of implementation, to study the experience of NGOs and public authorities of the Nordic countries, and the formation of a network of independent experts engaged in anti-corruption expertise regulations. The workshop participants shared an interesting experience in fighting corruption in Russia and the countries of northern Europe.

The Legislation & Lobbying Committee on February 20 organized a meeting with the leaders of the St. Petersburg UFAS. At the meeting were discussed issues related to the activities of the Office. The meeting was attended by:
• Kolomiychenko Oleg – Head of the St. Petersburg UFAS, co-chair of the Community Advisory Board at St. Petersburg UFAS;
• Edward Marasanov – Executive Secretary of the Community Advisory Board at St. Petersburg UFAS;
• Alla Petrova – Head of economic concentration, financial markets and trade.
We thank the representatives of the UFAS for the opportunity of open dialogue and look forward to future effective cooperation!

February 21 we celebrated the beginning of Maslenitsa during the Look@Palace of Congresses business tour. A tour was arranged for our participants of the State Complex “Palace of Congresses”, which includes the dominant architectural complex “Constantine Palace,” and the consular village, featuring VIP-class cottages and five-star hotel “Baltic Star.” After a fascinating tour of the staterooms of the Constantine Palace and visit to the cottages, we met with the management of the complex at an informal conference, after which the hosts invited us to help ourself to traditional Maslenitsa pancakes. Don’t miss the next Look@It meeting in March!

So, dear friends, once more congratulations on the arrival of spring! Hopefully it will, as usual, bring new ideas and initiatives of our members. We are waiting for proposals, calls on our hotline and your active participation in our events!