In November 1996, Yeltsin had just been voted back in as President, and Raiffeisenbank had recently opened in Russia. Petrol cost just 53p per litre, and I was working as Director of the Russo-British Chamber of Commerce. Most strangely to me, I had no children!
What a long time ago that seems now, as they now do final exams and prepare for university……
Much has changed. Politicians and businesses have come and gone. People have started and ended careers, and Apple now owns everything that Google doesn’t.
So what about the world back then?
There was still an element of the frontier about Russia in 1996, although the real frontier days were largely over. The young business people whom we know today were still at school, and many in business had been brought up under a very different system. This made business quite tough for all of us in some ways.
Moscow was also a very different looking place. There were few neon lights, and there were more or less no bars. Wifi had not really been invented, and most of the cars on the road were Volgas and Zhigulis. Large mobile phones were the preserve of the few, and they were largely useless except in Moscow city centre, because nobody had built the phone masts yet.
In some ways, things were simpler. To start with, Russia and the UK were not taking lumps out of each other at every opportunity. That’s not to say that business was easy, because ownership was still very much being decided. It was still unclear who was going up and who was coming down, who owned what, and where the future lay.
But there was a common purpose in business. Everybody was seeking some solution in a fast changing world.
Somehow, Albion has sailed through all these troubled times, and there have been some very stormy waters! And whilst things might have been easier, we are still here. Still going forwards, still making plans.
We may not get everything right, but some things have remained unchanged since we were incorporated twenty years ago. We are passionate about what we do, brutally honest, and very hard working.
Russia has given Albion a sense of purpose and an objective to aim towards. I am very proud of my Russian friends and business partners, and whilst you don’t hear a lot of optimism these days, I know things will turn out alright. One day.
I have no idea what the next twenty years might hold for Albion, but I am quite sure they will be full of surprises! Bring it on!
So for now, thank you to all those who have been part of Albion’s journey so far! To those whom we have just started working with, welcome aboard!
And to those whom we are yet to meet, we’re heading your way!