Jon Queen

Interview with KSE MBA Alumni

Jon Queen,

KSE MBA Alumnus, 2017

What influenced your choice to get MBA at Kyiv School of Economics?

For me the main reason which influenced my decision to get MBA is that I suddenly found myself being 40 years old with extra time on my hands, which I didn’t have before. Even though, I have corporate finance background and several degrees (in economics and law) and I’ve been working in a financial sector, I had never fully completed an MBA program. Also, I was looking at doing a local program because my business and my family is here. Then I got a recommendation from my business partner about KSE. I knew that KSE was highly regarded and decided to give it a try.

What are the benefits of this program, did it meet your expectations?

It was beneficial. The teachers are good here. Going back to school was a growing experience for me. I also made good contacts here.

The main thing which is with you ten years in the future is your contacts.

People in my class were really very entrepreneurial. One of my classmates already realized her capstone project, which she developed at MBA program. I do feel that networking and this entrepreneurial spirit not just among my class but among other classes is great. I would never got access to all of that other way.

The value you get here for the money you pay is quite strong.

What is your general impression of the level of MBA education in Ukraine? How it can be improved?

My impression is that MBA teaching community in Ukraine is quite small. If I compare foreign MBA and KSE MBA and I can compare it only with Wharton School of Business, where I took classes, I would mention two things.The first one is that KSE MBA seemed to be less focused on case studies. The case studies force you to think more analytically because in real life you usually have a situation, which confronts you and you have to figure out how to use your skills how to address it. KSE in the future can use more case studies, which will allow students to apply them more. I think students here had challenges, when it came to assignments like that. Wharton is also very much focused on cohort working. On the first day of study you are assigned a group (about 5 people) by the school and this group does numerous group projects during the whole course. We had one big capstone project at KSE at the end, while there you had to do many mini capstone projects during the year.

You’ve been working in the sphere of renewable energy in Ukraine since 2008, what are the perspectives of further development of this sphere here, from your point of view?

Jon Queen

I think, there are great perspectives for renewable energy sector development in Ukraine. In my business New Era Energy we have 13 biomass heating stations operating in Ukraine. We’ve been in business for a couple of years and have been growing. Hopefully, by next heating season we will get close to production of 30 Megawatts of heat per year. For Ukraine, it’s pretty good. Mostly municipal buyers are using our energy. We are looking at having private contracts with large manufacturers, but currently our main clients are schools and hospitals. We have some of our stations operating in Kyiv region (area of Fastiv) and we are looking to built some in the city of Kyiv. A lot of our stations are in Western Ukraine (e.g. in Chernivtsi). We build stations on our own money next to where the gas heating station is and then we plug into the tubes, which send gas heat, so it’s a very simple mechanism. The municipalities are then just buying heat from us instead of paying for gas.

You’ve been also working in the investment banking sphere and led several large public debt and equity placements of Ukrainian companies on foreign exchanges, what kind of experience was that?

Doing capital markets and investment banking in Ukraine really gives you the opportunity to get in front of the transaction. You don’t have a situation like you would have in Goldman Sachs or J.P. Morgan. There you have to be licensed to be able to sell your securities and also work for a number of years in the company before you can get in charge of a deal. Here in Ukraine it’s different, investment banking sphere is unstructured and gives you more freedom, so you can get in front of the deal right away, instead of working ten years before receiving the right to do that. First time you do an IPO, it’s like running a first marathon, it feels really special. However, for international investors Ukraine is still a frontier economy, a very risky and uncertain place. You don’t have any real guaranties of anything here. You will need a very big company to do an IPO as the only thing that investors can understand in case of Ukraine is how much cash is moving through the company.

Jon Queen, Kyiv Marathon 2015

How do you usually spend your free time? What hobbies do you have?

I don’t have as much free time as I’d like to have.

I like to run, I used to be a dedicated marathoner and long-distance runner. I also love skiing. When I was young, I was a ski instructor. The last few years most of the skiing I with my family have done at Bukovel in Carpathians. Once my wife and daughter get better in skiing, I will take them to ski abroad. Recently I started dancing classes with my wife, we dance tango and rumba. We also like to travel but we are not able to travel a lot because of lack of time. Lately, we spent a great long weekend in Lviv and hopefully will see more of Ukraine this year.