Yelena Nikolayevna Baturina (Еле́на Никола́евна Бату́рина) (born 8 March 1963) is a Russian entrepreneur and philanthropist. According to Forbes magazine, she is the richest businesswoman in Russia. The founder of BE OPEN – a nomadic foundation that travels the world, fostering creativity and innovation through exhibitions, talks and events, with inspirational, future-oriented design as a core theme.
Elena Baturina is a highly goal-oriented person with a strong character, analytical mind and systematic approach; she is a demanding leader. She is able to set and solve complicated business tasks, as demonstrated by the development of the highly successful Inteco Company. “I am a very systematic person. This is a certain way of thinking. When some administrative decision is being planned, I see it, almost like a flow chart, in my head and sometimes I even ask my employees to present their ideas as a scheme or diagram. There’s nothing I can do about it – that’s just the way I am …”…I’m probably a very demanding leader; that’s the right way to put it. Not harsh.” Baturina never simply gives her money to “everything and anything”; all her public and charitable initiatives are marked by strategic perspective and pragmatism, essential qualities for any successful business person.
Baturina’s attitude is distinctly feminine, and she attributes this to her family’s factory-worker background, where the emphasis was on creativity and productivity. As a result, she focuses on realising long-term goals, often intended for children and for future generations.
Elena Baturina has always sought to improve the world, not just by “plastering over the gaps”, but through consistent, strategic planning to really change the way things work. Inteco’s cooperation with leading architects is a good example of this: it created a fundamentally new approach to housing in Russia. The same could be said of her support for progressive sports in Russia and her profound interest in design as an agent for change. Importantly, for Baturina the notion of design goes beyond industrial design or interior design to encompass design for the environment, relationships, sound and even food. She sees design in its broadest sense as man’s conscious and deliberate commitment to creative re-thinking and transformation and, as such, the best tool for development and evolution.
Family is an absolute priority in the life of Yelena Baturina, despite the fact that since the foundation of her own business she has been actively involved in its management and has never put her responsibilities on somebody else’s shoulders. She describes her attempts to find a live / work balance as follows: “I am a businesswoman and simply a woman, so I must divide time between business and my family. It’s not at all easy. And I feel guilty all the time – when working I feel guilty for neglecting my family, and when I’m with my family I feel guilty for being away from the business”.
Baturina describes her family as “absolutely traditional” and believes that family is the foundation block on which we build our lives. According to Baturina, the traditional “Soviet upbringing” made her into a good housewife . For instance, she always prepares her husband’s favorite dish – borscht – herself. Moreover, in her interviews Yelena often confesses that for her “Luzhkov is a real man in the best sense of the word. And we were very lucky – we love each other
Despite 20 years as the first lady of Moscow, Baturina has always tried to distance herself from power games and politics, jokingly saying that the power in her own company is quite enough for her. The publicity and obligation to act as first lady weighed heavily on her, so, during Luzhkov’s period as Mayor, she was very rarely seen at social events. Instead, she tried to spend more time with her daughters or handling urgent business issues.
Her attitude is much the same now, as then: “I now need to live in England where my children are studying; and I will certainly always be tied to the place where they are. If tomorrow they wish to live in Japan, I’ll move to Japan with them, because they are my children – and they are much more important to me than any business “.
In addition to equestrian sports and golf, Elena Baturina enjoys downhill skiing, which she has been doing for about 20 years now.
She also has a passion for and collects Russian porcelain, owning one of the largest private collections of Russian Imperial porcelain, with a preference for the Nicholas the First period. In April 2011, Yelena Baturina donated more than 40 pieces of this collection to the Tsaritsyno museum in Moscow, where it was shown as part of a rare porcelain exhibition, displayed in honour of the 200th anniversary of the 1812 war between Russia and France.