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Special project of online magazine
A Day in the Life of the President:
Bo Andersson, AVTOVAZ
Narrated by Dmitriy Izvekov,
Head of

I met Bo Andersson in August, 2014 on the Moscow International Automobile Salon. Outstanding speech, beautiful AVTOVAZ stand with new car line presentation, accurate answers to the tricky journalists' questions, self-confidence present in every gesture and look – all of that revealed a charismatic leader in him, a born director, whose point of view is unquestionable and the only correct.

It was then that I told him about our idea to create a series of publications as a part of special project called A Day in the Life of the President and offered him to become our first hero. “Maybe”, he answered, neither saying “yes” nor “no”.

3 months passed. The watch shows 4.45 am. We are in Tolyatti. A van that will take us to the President's house is waiting for us at the hotel entrance.

- Smoking is not allowed in here, - the strict gaze of security is aimed at the lighter in my hand.

A minute before he opened a black metal gate and we slowly drove into yard of the lot surrounded by the high brick fence.

Three-storeyed house fronted with stone, underground garage, neat spruces and carvel pines. President’s house is located next door to cottages of the successful Tollyati businessmen in the community which is just 20 km from the city center.

Huge living room is adjacent to the spacious hall on the first floor. Pastel shades, heavy portieres, a table for 12 with a bucket of fresh tulips on it, fireplace, wine fridge, mini system and a massive chess table made of green marble.
«My name is Victoria, I'm making breakfast for the President. You may take a sit in the hall and I'll bring you some coffee. And, please, do not touch anything.»
— click on image to view full size
«It’s cosy here. And calm.»

DVD with famous series Suits is lying on a TV stand. A thrilling story about senior partner of the high-profile New York law firm and his assistant – corporation wars, multi-million suits, sleepless nights and purely brilliant decisions made on the highest level.

It was President's assistant who gave him this disk. Bo hasn't watched it yet but apparently prepared it for viewing. The scope of events presented in the series is matching the AVTOVAZ realities and I won't be surprised if someday Bo Andersson's life story becomes a prototype for a new Hollywood movie masterpiece.

— Where are we going?

— To the bedroom. This is what you wanted, didn’t you?

Spiral stairs, several narrow stairwells and here he is standing in front of me - the President of the major carmakers in Russia and Eastern Europe.

He looks a bit tired. Ballon Bleu de Cartier watch on his right wrist is the first and the only attribute accenting his vis-a-vis status. A watch is a necessity. It shows time that is so precious and inevitably running.

The President is dressed in a blue polo with the Lada hockey team logo and training pants. At first sight you can never tell that you're looking at a president of the automobile empire.

— What are we allowed to photo?

— Everything, I have nothing to hide, — having said that he goes on to clean his teeth

«President» toothpaste speaks for itself. Shaving mousse, razor and shampoo make him one of us, a man of flesh and blood, even though he runs the gigantic automobile corporation.

— Good morning! How should I address you? Mr President or Mr Andersson?

— Call me Bo.

To be honest I am confused, he is a little bit embarrassed. For the first time journalists are in his bedroom

— Bo, may I ask you?

— Sure.

— Please be brutally honest with me.

— You have my word, — The President responds to me with a firm handshake.

We are going down to the living room. Carrot juice, fruits, tea and some cheese are already served. Oatmeal comes in a minute.
— I wake up at 5am every morning, apart from Sunday, when I’m trying to get my sleep. However, it doesn't mean I won't come to the factory on the weekends.
— I cannot let myself break my own schedule. Why? It's easy. There are people who wait for me and need me. I can't keep them waiting.
— When I was young, I used to play chess. Now, they are just a part of decoration.
It is calm here and I like it. Sometimes I indulge in listening to music. Elton John, Bruce Springsteen, some Swedish music. I have lived in the USA for 15 years. I used to listen to Kid Rock then.
I am inspired by two men - Henry Kissinger and Vladimir Putin.
— I cannot live without work. This is all I have. Russia is a unique country with so much work to do. A lot of it.
— Can you call yourself a lucky one? You can? Well, I'm unlucky guy. I may appear a tycoon - such a wheeler-dealer running corporations. Since my work in GAZ , people tend to think that my life is a life of a lucky king surrounded by luxury and process monitoring. But the reality is different. It is hard work. Everyday painstaking work.
— When I came to AVTOVAZ in January, they brought me several presentations for the first meeting at 7 am. Instead of listening to the speakers, I headed to the factory territory and started with the toilet room. It was dirty there, taps wouldn't open and, on the whole, being there was really unpleasant.

I said: from now on we change the way things are going on the plant and we'll start with the toilet rooms. All these issues have to be solved before 6 pm. And they made it.
— Among other reasons, I love Russia for the fact that the big problems can be solved during one day, whereas in Europe it will take weeks to tackle the minor ones.
— We have built new Kalina Cross, Largus Cross and Lada Urban 4x4 just in 4 months, while no one believed it was possible to achieve such results in such a short time.
— Many people could not understand why we needed Urban, saying that hunters and fishers (our main car consumer segment) were not interested in the “chic” exterior, air-conditioner, steering Boster and power windows with mirrors availability.
My answer was simple then—we should consider not only the points of view of the consumers we already have. We need to think about our potential buyers as well.
— As for me, problem of the Russian consumers is that they don't understand what they want. For years those decisions have been made for them by neither giving a choice nor asking for their opinion. People simply forgot how to listen to their own desires.
— For the first year of my work in GAZ I have met 5000 clients who have bought the plant products before but were disappointed with their quality. Bad cars, bad steering gear, bad brakes, awful seats. I was asking everybody whether they would buy GAZ products again if we improved the quality. All of them said “Yes”.
— 9 months was term I determined for myself then. People kept saying it was impossible. I was sure we would make it. And we did. We produced absolutely new GAZ cars which all the clients' requests were incorporated in.
— Success is planning and belief in what you are doing and in producing. It is impossible to wake up in the morning with understanding that you are late. You understand it way before the day of awakening. And you have time to fix this issue with deadlines missing in order to keep your promise.
I am not a big fan of flowers.
Yellow tulips are the choice of my
beloved wife.
— OK, I’ve got to go. I'll come down in 10 minutes and you'll have time to finish your breakfast meanwhile.
Apologizing, hardly noticeable smile but uncompromising and extremely meaningful glance.

A regular 16 meter room carved gilded furniture – the feeling of luxury which is, though, combined with modesty. Brioni shirt and a simple hanger from an average hypermarket. The owner of “The best director of the European automobile industry” title realizes his status but doesn't boast of it. He is comfortable to talk to.

He needs just 7 minutes to change. Having chosen one of 13 suits, he takes several seconds to find the right tie.

Two smartphones (iPhone и Blackberry), a belt, French cuffs, glasses in the case and Swedish chewing drops Lakerol are lying on the table nearby.

Final touch is LADA signature badge, which Bo pins neatly to the jacket lapel. A look in the mirror and the President is ready for work.

— You know what distinguishes me from the Russian top-managers? I don't give the promises I can't keep. This concerns the production terms of new cars as well. I have produced 300 automobiles so far. Everyone around may discourage me but I know the whole essence of business. I have huge experience and I rely on my knowledge and practice when making decisions.
— Are going with me? No? If you change your mind, let me know.
all rights reserved © 2014
text © Dmitriy Izvekov, photo © Vladimir Sedov, Design © Mikhail Rozov
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