Ruben Vardanyan (businessman)

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Ruben Karlenovich Vardanyan
Ruben Vardanyan new.jpg
Born (1968-05-25) May 25, 1968 (age 48)
Nationality Russian/Armenian
Occupation Businessman

Ruben Karlenovich Vardanyan (Russian: Рубен Карленович Варданян, Armenian: Ռուբեն Վարդանյան; born May 25, 1968 in Yerevan) is a Russian entrepreneur, manager and philanthropist, CEO and controlling shareholder of Troika Dialog, an investment bank (1992 – 2012). He is additionally one of the founders of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO and its first president (2006 – 2011), also the co-founder of the first international school in Armenia UWC Dilijan together with his wife Veronika Zonabend.

Life and career[edit]

Vardanyan was born on May 25, 1968, in Yerevan. In 1985 he graduated with a gold medal from school №20 in Yerevan. Between 1986 and 1988 he completed service in the Soviet Armed Forces [1] From 1985 to 1992 he studied in the economics faculty of Moscow State University, graduating with honours. He interned at Banca CRT in Italy, attended courses on emerging markets organized by Merrill Lynch in New York (1992), completed training at INSEAD (Fontenblo, France; 2000), and attended courses at Harvard Business School (2001, 2005), as well as special programs at Yale University and Stanford University Graduate School of Business (2012 and 2013).

Entrepreneurial activities[edit]

From 1991 to 1992 Vardanyan led the IPO division at Troika Dialog; working at the company from its founding day. From 1992 he headed Troika Dialog, holding the posts of executive director, and then president, CEO and chairman of the board of directors of Troika Dialog Group, up until the company’s sale to Sberbank on January 23, 2012. Thereafter he was co-head of Sberbank CIB (until August 2013), and subsequently advisor to the president and chairman of the board at Sberbank.

In 2013, together with the managing director and ex-partner of Troika Dialog Mikhail Broitman, he founded the investment boutique Vardanyan, Broitman and Partners.

From 2002 to 2004 Vardanyan was general director at Rosgosstrakh, working concurrently as Troika’s CEO. From 2004 to 2015 he was a board member at Rosgosstrakh, serving as chairman of the board from June 2011 to December 2013.

Previously, Vardanyan served on the boards of directors of numerous companies, including AvtoVAZ, Novatek, Sukhoi Civil Aircraft, Aviastar-SP, Sheremetyevo International Airport, United Grain Company (Russia), AK BARS Bank, Bank of Moscow and Izvestia newspaper. He is currently a board member at Kamaz, Sibur, Sollers, Joule Unlimited, Inc. (USA) and Ameriabank (Armenia). He is a member of the economic council of the International Finance Corporation (IFC).

From 2000 to 2012 Vardanyan was a member of the management board of the Russian Union of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs. He is currently a member of the arbitrators’ committee of the RUIE joint corporate ethics commission.

Public service[edit]

Vardanyan previously served on the boards of organizations comprising the infrastructure of Russia’s securities market and regulating its operations: the board of directors of the Nonprofit Partnership for Development of Russian Financial Market Russian Trading System (NP RTS) (1998-2001), the exchange council of the Moscow Exchange (1997–2002), the expert council of the Federal Commission of Securities Market (FCSM of Russia) (1996–2002), the board of directors of Depository Clearing Company CJSC (1995–1999), as well as the board of directors of the National Association of Securities Market Participants (NAUFOR) (1997–2006), including two years (1997–1998) as board chairman.

Since 2010 he has been serving on the Board of Trustees of the Alexander Gorchakov Public Diplomacy Fund, and since 2005 – the National Council on Corporate Governance.

Ruben Vardanyan is a member of the Supreme Religious Council of the Armenian Apostolic Church. In 2016 he began serving on the central board of the Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU). From 2007 to 2014 he served on the Board of Trustees of the National Competitiveness Foundation of Armenia.

Philanthropy infrastructure and wealth curation[edit]

Ruben Vardanyan spends a significant amount of his time on projects related to the development of charity infrastructure and the question of wealth succession. In 2015 he launched the PHILIN (Philanthropy Infrastructure) project that provides supporting infrastructure to Russian NGOs and charitable foundations, helping to reduce their costs [2] In the same year Vardanyan created Phoenix Advisors, which deals with wealth curation, and helps businessmen develop an asset strategy and determine their successors [2] In 2013 Ruben Vardanyan initiated and was actively involved in the creation of the SKOLKOVO Wealth Transformation Centre, which promotes the development of entrepreneurship in Russia through the creation of legal and educational infrastructure [3]

Support of education[edit]

Several of Ruben Vardanyan’s projects relate to educational initiatives in Russia and the CIS [4] He is founding partner and deputy chairman of the international advisory board of Moscow School of Management SKOLKOVO. From 2006 to 2011 he was the school’s president. Additionally, Vardanyan heads the advisory board of the Institute for Emerging Market Studies and the expert council of the Wealth Transformation Center at SKOLKOVO business school.

Ruben Vardanyan is a founding patron and chairman of the board of trustees at UWC Dilijan College, an international school in Armenia for students aged 16–19. In 2013, together with spouse Veronika Zonabend, Vardanyan established the Scholae Mundi foundation for new educational opportunities, assisting on a non-profit basis the students of UWC Dilijan College and other academic institutions by providing scholarships, maintenance allowances or grants,[5] as well as launching a collaborative program with the educational center of Dumfries House Estate (Scotland), under the patronage of Prince Charles [6]

Vardanyan is a current or previous board member of a number of academic institutions in Russia and other countries: the boards of trustees of the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration (RANEPA) (since 2014) and the Faculty of Economics at Lomonosov Moscow State University (since 2014), the international advisory boards at the International Christian University (Japan) (since 2011) and at Fundação Dom Cabral business school (Brazil) (since 2009) and the GuangHua School of Management international advisory council (China) (2008–2014). From 2000–2016 he served on the New Economic School Endowment Fund board of trustees, serving in 2008–2009 on the fund’s consultancy board. From 2005–2008 he was a board member for the International Baccalaureate Organization.

Social entrepreneurship[edit]

Tatev Monastery in Armenia

Ruben Vardanyan is co-founder of the philanthropic foundation IDeA, committed to supporting long-term projects for Armenia’s development [7] One such project was Vardanyan’s and partners’ construction in 2010 of the reversible cableway Wings of Tatev, leading to Tatev Monastery. Construction of the cableway is part of the Tatev Revival program, envisioning the reconstruction of the Tatev Monastery Complex and development of local communities (job creation, fostering entrepreneurship in communities and local standards of living) [8]

In 2014 Vardanyan and his partner, Gagik Adibekyan,[9] an entrepreneur, established Dilijan Development Foundation, with the goal of transforming the city into an educational, cultural and recreational hub and increasing its attractiveness for investors, tourists and local residents. The Foundation’s operations mainly involve development of urban infrastructure, its community life, and educational and cultural spheres [10]

Preservation of objects of cultural-religious heritage[edit]

Cathedral of Saint George in Tbilisi (before renovation)

In 2008 Ruben Vardanyan initiated the Tatev Revival Project, which besides himself, was supported by 149 donors from 18 countries[7] In 2010 one structure of the monastic complex was fully restored – the Dzit Han oil mill. In 2017 plans are in place to complete the restoration of the St. Astvatsatsin (Holy Virgin) church, the Swinging Column (Gavazan) and auxiliary buildings. Restoration of the remaining buildings of the monastery complex will be continued after 2017.

In 2015 restoration was completed of the Cathedral of the Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church in Georgia, the Cathedral of Saint George (Surb Gevorg). Restoration work was carried out over a three year period, exclusively funded by benefactors – Ruben Vardanyan, Albert Avdolyan, Sergey Sarkisov and others. A cultural and educational center will be established at the church[11]

Held on September 17, 2013, was the official opening and consecration of the Temple complex of the Russian and Novo-Nakhichevan Diocese of the Armenian Apostolic Church. In respect to this event, on September 18 Ruben Vardanyan, among other philanthropists, was awarded the AAC’s highest award – the Order of Saint Gregory the Illuminator [12]


Ruben Vardanyan was a member of the board of trustees of the Pushkin State Museum of Fine Arts from 2006–2012. He has repeatedly provided support to the Russian National Orchestra under the direction of Mikhail Pletnev and the U.S.-Russian Orchestra of Young Performers, serving on the boards of trustees for both musical collectives (1996–2006 and 2001–2003, respectively).

Book and magazine publishing[edit]

Ruben Vardanyan is head of the editorial board of BRICS Business Magazine. From 2003–2013 he was a member of the board of trustees of Russia in Global Affairs magazine.

With support from Mr. Vardanyan, Troika Dialog, SKOLKOVO business school and several charitable foundations, some of the best foreign works on the stock market, classics of world business literature[13] new literary works, books about history, economics, sociology, social sciences and many others were translated into Russian and published in Russia; in Armenia, works devoted to the country’s history and culture, Armenian language and the genocide in Western Armenia were published.

Other projects[edit]

In March 2015 the 100 LIVES initiative was launched in New York, a global project coinciding with the centenary of the Armenian Genocide [14] The founders, Ruben Vardanyan, American philanthropist and venture capitalist Noubar Afeyan, and president of Carnegie Corporation of New York Vartan Gregorian, created 100 LIVES to thank those who saved Armenian lives, and to share the stories of the genocide survivors and their rescuers, and also to pay tribute to the power of the human spirit.

As part of the 100 LIVES project, an annual awards ceremony was created, the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity [15]

The award was named in honor of Aurora Mardiganian, who played an important role in creating awareness of the Armenian genocide amongst the public, reliving her horrors through her book "Ravished Armenia" which inspired the eponymous film. The Aurora Prize is awarded annually on April 24 in Yerevan to people who have made an exceptional contribution to saving lives and promoting the idea of humanity. The co-chairman of the selection committee is the filmmaker and philanthropist George Clooney. The first co-chair of the selection committee was the Nobel Peace Prize winner Elie Wiesel, from March 2015 until his death in July 2016. The commission consists of the 100 LIVES co-founder Vartan Gregorian, Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Leymah Gbowee, Shirin Ebadi and Óscar Arias, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders Hina Jilani and Honorary President of the International Crisis Group and former Australian Foreign Minister Gareth Evans.

On April 24, 2016, on the day of the 101st anniversary of the Armenian Genocide, the first winner of the Aurora Prize for Awakening Humanity was announced by George Clooney in Yerevan. The award was given to Marguerite Barankitse from 'Maison Shalom' and REMA hospital in Burundi, who made a unique contribution in rescuing thousands of children and providing assistance to orphans and refugees, victims of the civil war in the country. The first winner of the Aurora Prize received a grant of $100,000 and was given the opportunity to continue the cycle of giving by donating the accompanying $1,000,000 award to organizations that provided the inspiration for her own charitable work [16]

Awards and honors[edit]

Among the distinctions granted to Ruben Vardanyan are Business Person of the Year Award (AmCham Russia, 1999), “Best business manager on Russia’s capital market” (1999, 2000), awarded by Kariera magazine, Ernst & Young[17] Entrepreneur of the Year Award (Russia, 2004), “Investment banker of the year” (2004, “Stock market elite” competition) by NAUFOR,[18] Russian GQ’s “Man of the Year” as Best Entrepreneur (2010), “Alley of Fame” from the Russian Banking Forum for 20 years of service to Russia’s financial industry (2013) and many others. In 2001, Fortune magazine named Vardanyan to its list “25 Rising Stars of the New Generation”. In the same year, Vardanyan entered the list of the “100 Global Leaders of Tomorrow” at the World Economic Forum.

In 2011 the President of the Republic of Armenia awarded Mr. Vardanyan the Order of St. Mesrop Mashtots in recognition of his many contributions to defending Armenia’s national interests and his extensive and productive work to benefit the country. In 2013 he received the Order of St. Gregory the Illuminator. In January 2014 Chairman of the Government of the Russian Federation Dmitry Medvedev and His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow and All Russia expressed gratitude to Ruben Vardanyan for contributing to restoring the Russian Monastery of St. Panteleimon on Mount Athos.


Married, father of four[1]

Wife — Veronika Feliksovna Zonabend, engaged with the Ruben Vardanyan and Veronika Zonabend Family Foundation, undertaking philanthropic projects in Armenia and Russia[1]

Older sister — Marine Ales, composer, songwriter in Armenian and Russian[19]

See also[edit]

References (note: some of the articles below are in Russian)[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "I've been incredibly lucky in life with mentors" // Ogoniok, 25.11.2013". 
  2. ^ a b "«Жизнь после "Тройки": чем занимается Рубен Варданян» //, 18.09.2015". 
  3. ^ "Ruben Vardanyan Changes The World One Country At A Time". Forbes. 
  4. ^ "The U.S. has roaches also, only fewer than we do" // Vedomosti, 29.04.2014, 76 (3580)". 
  5. ^ "I have a dream: to make philanthropy in Russia professional, powerful and systematic" // SPEAR'S Russia, №4 (37), April 2014". 
  6. ^ "Radius of Trust" // Forbes Life, №2, July 2013". 
  7. ^ a b "The prosperity model requires will, ambition and risk" // Mediamax, 24.06.2013". 
  8. ^ "Wings of Tatev: Armenia debuts "world's longest aerial tramway" //, 18.10.2010". 
  9. ^ "Kings of Real Estate" // Forbes, 30.01.2012". 
  10. ^ "Fund established for Dilijan's versatile development" // Mediamax, 02.06.2014". 
  11. ^ "Surb Gevorg Church Reopens after Three Year Renovation" // Georgia Today, 05.11.2015". 
  12. ^ "Philanthropists receive highest awards from AAC" // Press release from 18.09.2013 on". 
  13. ^ "The indicator of societal stability is the number of projects with horizon of 20-30 years" //, 19.09.2013". 
  14. ^ "The Armenian Genocide: A new way to commemorate" // The Economist, 10.03.2015". 
  15. ^ "Armenian Leaders Establish Rights Award to Commemorate Centenary of Genocide" // The New York Times, 10.03.2015". 
  16. ^ "My family came to the US as refugees, says George Clooney" // The Guardian, 24.04.2016". 
  17. ^ "Long-term game" // EY – Russia, "Businessman of the Year"/Ruben Vardanyan/". 
  18. ^ "Winners of the national competition "Stock market elite" //". 
  19. ^ "Ruben Vardanyan on his mentors // Website of Ruben Vardanyan". 

External links[edit]