Mikhail Shelkov: Transforming education through teacher support
Mikhail Shelkov, the owner of VSMPO-Avisma, the world’s top titanium producer, and the founder of the Empathy Charitable Foundation, dedicated to supporting teachers, talented students, and schoolchildren.
Mikhail Shelkov, a prominent Russian businessman and Forbes Top-30 entrepreneur, is a co-owner of VSMPO-AVISMA, the world’s leading titanium producer. He is also the owner of the Samara Metallurgical Plant (SMZ), which is among the top four aluminum producers in Russia. Alongside his business ventures, he is deeply committed to addressing challenges in Russian education through Empathy, a charitable foundation established by Shelkov. With a focus on restoring the teaching profession’s prestige and nurturing talented youth, Shelkov supports numerous community-oriented projects.
Born on May 30 1968, in Moscow, Mikhail Shelkov has carved a path of success as an entrepreneur and philanthropist. His journey began with academic achievements he received when he graduated from the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT) in 1991, with a focus on molecular and chemical physics.
In 1993, Shelkov assumed leadership at Eurosibbank, rapidly ascending to the position of Chairman of the Board within two years. His influence expanded further in 1995 when he joined the Board of Directors of the Russian Bank for Reconstruction and Development.
Rising to the helm of Prominvest Investment Holdings in 2001, Shelkov continued to demonstrate his acumen for strategic management. His accomplishments reached new heights in 2012-2014 when he acquired a controlling stake in VSMPO-AVISMA, the largest titanium producer on the global market. This acquisition solidified his position as a prominent figure within the industry.
Shelkov’s entrepreneurial prowess has earned him recognition and acclaim. In 2017, he secured a spot on Forbes’ list of “200 richest businessmen in Russia,” entering the rankings at the 200th position, with a net worth of $500 million. His fortunes have soared even higher since then, catapulting him to the 29th position.
Mikhail Shelkov supports various sports projects: he serves on the Board of Trustees for the Russian Powerboating Federation and supports the Marathon-Tula cycling team. He believes that taking an interest in sports is important, especially for those with sedentary jobs. Shelkov offered support to chess player Sergey Karyakin for his match against Magnus Carlsen in the USA. Karyakin spoke highly of Shelkov’s passion for chess. Shelkov’s educational background in physics and technology have much in common with the complexity of chess and his own technological business.
Driven by a deep commitment to social welfare, Shelkov founded the Empathy Charitable Foundation in 2019. Through this organization, he supports community-oriented projects in education, culture and science, hoping to leave a lasting impact on society. Empathy is there to bridge gaps, promote learning and foster opportunities for individuals who seek to realize their true potential.
One of the foundation’s flagship endeavors is providing monthly grant payments to school teachers from the towns of Verkhnyaya Salda and Nizhnyaya Salda. Recognizing the invaluable role educators play in shaping young minds, Empathy ensures that they receive fair compensation by offering grants amounting to 50% of their salaries. This not only motivates teachers, but also acknowledges their commitment to nurturing future generations. In addition to the financial support, Empathy places great emphasis on empowering educators through free advanced training courses. Teachers are given the opportunity to enhance their skills and knowledge in various areas such as information technology, psychology, teaching methodologies and more.
To celebrate the achievements of the Tula teachers, Empathy organizes an annual professional competition titled “Calling to Teach!” This prestigious event recognizes outstanding educators, highlighting their exceptional contributions and inspiring others to follow in their footsteps.
Looking beyond traditional academic subjects, the foundation recognizes the importance of fostering innovation and creativity among young minds. To achieve this, Empathy has launched an engineering accelerator specifically designed for pupils in Verkhnyaya and Nizhnyaya Salda. This initiative provides hands-on learning experience, access to cutting-edge technology, and mentorship opportunities.
Recognizing exceptional achievements, Empathy grants scholarships to winners of both Russian and international competitions, as well as graduates who have demonstrated remarkable results in the Unified State Examination. Also, on May 24 2023, the foundation organized the first regional qualifying round for the Gifted Girls and Brainy Boys Olympiad in Yekaterinburg. This event is a humanitarian television competition that offers its winners free education at the top national university, MGIMO. Local tenth-grade students are invited to participate in this contest.
In the heart of Tula, a city with a rich industrial heritage, lies the remarkable Oktava Cluster—a thriving hub for creative individuals and entrepreneurs. Mikhail Shelkov, who has invested over 1 billion rubles so far, believes this project has breathed new life into the premises of an old abandoned factory, transforming it into a vibrant ecosystem dedicated to art, education and technology. With unwavering backing from the local community and the passionate involvement of its key private investor Shelkov, this extraordinary endeavor has become a beacon of inspiration and opportunity.
The Oktava Cluster is a dynamic space that hosts a considerable number of concerts, master classes, lectures and exhibitions. The cluster’s allure extends beyond performance spaces. It offers the visitors its magnificent library and the Higher Technical School that provides access to advanced training programs for executives in the industrial sector, focused on the skills needed to thrive in a rapidly evolving world.
The cluster features a cozy café and a vibrant coworking center that provide an inspiring and collaborative workspace for entrepreneurs, startups and freelancers from various industries to advance and network.
Among the cluster’s many highlights, the Machine Tool Museum stands tall, paying homage to Tula’s storied machine tool industry. With meticulously curated exhibits and interactive displays, visitors are taken on a captivating journey through time, witnessing the evolution of this vital sector and its impact on the city’s history.