Anja Tekic, PhD | Assistant Professor, HSE Graduate School of Business
Meet Anja Tekic, Skoltech PhD graduate with a focus on Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Anja hasn't planned to pursue her PhD at Skoltech, but read and see how the decision to study at Skoltech turned out for her. Enjoy!
the journey to Moscow
I moved to Moscow from Serbia with my family in 2014. Back then, I was a PhD student at the University of Novi Sad (Faculty of Technical Sciences) with a background in Industrial Engineering and Management. At the same university, I finished my bachelor studies and two master degrees, one in Project Management and another in Product Lifecycle Management (PLM). I didn't have a plan to study in Moscow. As I passed all the exams in my PhD program, I hoped I would be able to finalize my research in an off-campus mode and then find a job in Moscow. However, as I was away, I lost the momentum in communication with my supervisor and colleagues, and I knew things would not work as I planned.
Ironically, this was the best thing that could happen! I already had the opportunity to learn about Skoltech and, as a foreign researcher with an interest in innovation, I have to admit that I was very attracted to an idea to pursue a PhD at Skoltech's Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation.
Skoltech's emphasis on innovation and entrepreneurship offered a promise of a one-of-a-kind environment for me to re-start my research in the field of innovation management. And a couple of long meetings with Professor Kelvin Willoughby (later my supervisor) about what we can work on together assured me that a PhD at Skoltech is definitely the right choice — even though for me it meant to start basically from the beginning and forget about three years of previous research. Once you experience Skoltech, its environment and people, it's easy to make your decision.
Before joining Skoltech I got very interested in co-creation and product development. You have probably heard about crowdsourcing contests, hackathons, lead user workshops or community-based innovation projects that companies organize to develop new or improve their existing products in collaboration with individual external contributors, such as product consumers, students, experts or anybody who can provide some valuable input for their innovation projects. Such co-creation projects typically result in a new intellectual asset that might accrue legal intellectual property (IP) rights such as patents, trademarks, copyright, design rights or trade secrets. And this is where my early research interests and the expertise of my supervisor Professor Kelvin Willoughby intersected.
There were so many interesting questions to be answered with regards to IP management in co-creation - How do companies deal with IP protection? Who owns the intellectual property in the final co-creation outcome? Are companies ready to share the co-created IP, or do they just give a cash reward and then retain all ownership of the IP? When do they adopt different approaches? While contributing extensively to the extant innovation management research, my PhD thesis offers guidelines to co-creation practitioners about how to develop their IP management strategies to fit the specific co-creation projects.
Skoltech gave me an opportunity to work on things I was genuinely interested in. I was given freedom in my own work while having continuous support and guidance from my supervisor. There are some rules of the game that need to be followed, of course, but you are pushed to be independent. Also, as our research group at the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation was quite small, I had an opportunity to attend a number of international conferences and doctoral workshops that were invaluable for me professionally. They helped me not only to improve the quality of my PhD research but also to expand my international network. That is how I got in touch with the world-class scholars, some of which took part in my PhD committee.
In 2020 I joined HSE Graduate School of Business as an international faculty member. I was appointed Assistant Professor at the Department of Strategic and International Management. New university, new people, new obligations… and it's great! It is amazing to be part of a young and very ambitious school, where your contribution is valued. I really feel this is going to be a great journey. And I am really proud how I ended up at HSE! Just before my PhD defense I flew to Boston to attend one of the biggest and most important conferences in my field – Academy of Management conference. And this is where, half of the world away from Moscow, HSE Graduate School of Business recruited me. It is a great feeling when you are recognized purely based on your work and results! Even though a job offer came almost right after my PhD defense, unfortunately, due to pandemics and closed borders I needed to wait for almost a year to obtain my work visa. But it is all resolved now!
life in Moscow
At first you are amazed how big this city is. I am from Serbia, and the whole country's population is twice smaller than that of Moscow. So, you may imagine how I felt the first time in subway! However, you don't feel lost or unable to adapt. Moscow instantly attracts you, it is amazingly beautiful. It has so many things to offer. I have never visited before so many museums and gallery exhibitions, theaters, sport events. Moscow frosty winters can be breathtaking – even literally! But nothing beats long summer walks in the city center or along the river. This is when you feel how vibrant and alive this city is.
why STEM students need to study E&I
STEM students with E&I skills are uniquely positioned in today's job market as they are able not only to find solutions to complex science and tech problems, but also to put these solutions into use and create real value. So, do not underestimate the value of E&I courses for your future career. They can open up new horizons for you. Take the most from E&I experience that Skoltech offers you. Also, grow your local and international network. And of course, have fun!