From Russia with love … to Melbourne Business School


His surname has as many letters as the highest summer temperature in Sakhalin Island, Russia, from where he hails. Meet Vladimir Tikhomandritskiy, entrepreneur, part-time MBA student and climate change advocate, who moved from the land of Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy to study in Melbourne in 2002.

Perhaps the dramatic change of climate from the island’s minus-10 degree winter average to Melbourne’s scorching summers explains why Vlad decided to set up energy consultancy Zero Carbon Group and the Energy Incentive website, which helps Victorians claim rebates for purchasing energy-efficient appliances.

But, with 2016 set to be the hottest year on record, Vlad was motivated as much by business opportunity as concern for the environment. He moved to Australia after finishing high school to improve his English and gain business knowledge and experience.

Once he completed his commerce degree, he worked in various business development and finance roles before deciding to undertake his MBA at Melbourne Business School, which gave him the confidence to start his own business.

“I had been working for the University of Melbourne for seven years after finishing my bachelor degree, but running my business was always something I’ve wanted to do because you are the manager, the one making the decisions and the one ultimately responsible,” he says.

 “And doing an MBA was a big dream of mine because it gives you the broad general skills to be a good manager across an organisation.”

 Vlad set up Zero Carbon half-way through his part-time MBA and after working on several energy-saving projects for private companies in 2013–2015. That experience gave him the idea for the Energy Incentive website, which he started in late 2015.

The website allows consumers to claim government rebates easily online if they buy an eligible appliance with a high star rating, indicating exceptional energy efficiency.

 “At the moment, we’re concentrating on rebates for energy-efficient televisions, fridges and clothes dryers, which traditionally are among the most energy hungry of household appliances and together account for about 25 per cent of the average household power bill.”

Claims only take a few minute to lodge on the website and less than two weeks to process in line with the requirements of the Victorian Energy Efficiency Target (VEET) scheme, which attaches certificates to energy-efficient appliances, based on how much carbon they don’t add to the atmosphere. Energy retailers and wholesalers then buy the certificates to offset the carbon they emit.

Vlad has plans to expand his website to handle similar schemes interstate. His company recently obtained accreditation in New South Wales, and the Australian Capital Territory is the next target. He sees a bright future for his website as national and state governments expand existing energy-saving schemes and introduce new incentives to address climate change.

“The VEET scheme also covers installing energy-efficient windows, and newly constructed residential buildings now must have a six-star energy rating. Also, insulation will be reinstated in the Victorian scheme this year, and new policies are likely around the country in the future, so the opportunities are there to broaden our business.”

Vlad says he really felt Australia was the place to be when he was looking to leave Russia. Hopefully, his passion for business, technology and the environment will help it remain so and stop Melbourne’s summers getting any hotter. If not, we all might have to move to somewhere like Sakhalin Island.

Follow Vlad’s lead and find out more about our range of career-enhancing MBA programs.