Some might say that Tagir Yapparov, 38, is a typical self-made Russian businessman. But, in fact, he is anything but typical.
Born in 1963 in Ufa, Bashkiria, to a teacher and doctor, he graduated with special honors from his secondary school. Along the way, he developed a knack for working with radios.
Overcoming stiff competition (only 1 in 6 applicants were admitted), Yapparov entered the prestigious Physics Faculty at Moscow State University. In 1986 he went on to pursue post-graduate study in computer mathematics and cybernetics.
Yet, like many Russians entering the job market in the late 1980s, Yapparov quickly realized that, unlike in the USSR, one cannot easily support oneself on theories in New Russia —even if they are in the hard sciences like mathematics and physics. For a time he worked selling computers, but quickly tired of this. He yearned to make use of the precious learning he received at MGU.
On November 28, 1990, Yapparov threw in with his fellow institute alum, Igor Kasymov, and founded the company IT. The duo had no loans or privatized oil deposits. What they did have, however, was their intellects and those of a stellar group of “comrades-in-science.” All were united by a burning desire to become masters of their destinies and to create a company developing its own high-tech products.
Yapparov and Kasymov pooled together R2,000 and set up their first office in Yapparov’s apartment. There the two comrades began work on the concept of an automated bank. For six months, Yapparov traveled throughout Russia trying to sell his ideas to prospective clients. It took IT six long months to land its first client — the commercial bank Yugra.
IT was the first company of its type in Russia – it specialized in the creation of information systems for Russian enterprises and organizations, performing “systems integration” for companies that were still wedded to the teletype.
Along the way, IT came up with many “firsts.” The company created the first Russian structured cable system — AT SKS, the largest fiber-optic network project in Eurasia — for the joint stock company Irkutskenergo, and the first home-grown office software package, “Russian Office.”
Today, Yapparov’s IT continues to be a leading edge company. IT is among the top three Russian system integrators, and lists among its clients Russian ministries and agencies, General Electric, ICI/Fujitsu and many others. Its 800 employees enjoy salaries and benefits well above the norm, including free corporate lunches and company sponsored health club membership. IT also pays 50% of any educational costs for skills improvement and advanced degrees.
While it may be a bit early for Yapparov to be thinking about retirement, he is proud to note that his 17-year-old son Bulat is studying at the Moscow Lyceum of High Technology and is excited about anything related to Internet. “One could say he is following in his father’s footsteps,” Yapparov quipped.
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