The idea for the ITMO.SuperHeroes project is simple: at every meeting with students and employees at ITMO University, the organizers invite someone who has already made the journey from student to "superhero", reaching the heights of their profession. The event is in the format of a conversation. First the invited guest talks about anything that he thinks is interesting about his career, he shares stories with the students, talks about his first work experience, and all the ups and downs. Then the speakers answers questions from the audience some of which might be rather tricky.

There were quite a lot of people who wanted to listen to the Rector. Quite a large number attended the meeting. "When I was invited to participate in the project, first I wasn’t sure whether I should accept it or not. My doubts were connected with the fact that talking about the past, when most of your life has already passed, you end up window dressing your life, and downplaying the negative. However, I’ll try to be honest with you," promised Mr. Vasilyev.

The Rector talked about significant milestones in his life, like choosing a profession, about how important it is to have a true teacher, he talked about his student years at St. Petersburg Polytechnic University and about his dreams to become a professor. The students listened to his story about how he was given a position to work at Stavropol Polytechnic Institute after completing his studies, about his first professional steps when he was working at ITMO University (then LITMO) and about chance in a person’s life. Here are some of the most memorable comments from the Rector.


Today for many, success is the outward manifestation of prosperity. I think that in that case, success is just then treated as a solution to one of life’s challenges. My interpretation of success is understanding yourself and understanding how to uncover that which is latent within you. Social status is not important at all. When you bring joy to people around you, this is also success.

About love as the foundation of all human activity

Just like 2000 years ago, human beings have the same human characteristics such that they won’t be subservient to machines. The foundation of this is love. Love in the broadest sense, to others, to yourself and to the world. If there is no love, there will be misfortune and distress. When you love, everything works out and brings you joy.

This is in response to a question from one of ITMO’s freshmen about whether there is anything that belongs to human beings that cannot be reproduced by a machine, which was awarded the prize for best question.

About the teacher

My generation was lucky, because we were taught at school by people who lived through the Great Patriotic War. Amongst the teachers there were many men. Our teacher was a winner. This realization came only recently. They never talked about the troubles of the war times, but as children we felt the spirit of the victory, which also passed on to our generation.

About the inner life

Our inner life is much richer than our outer life. You don’t understand this at first. But with age you start to realize its true value.

About how ITMO University became the first non-classical University

I think of openness when I think about the word "non-classical". It’s about always having fresh ideas, creativity and being visionary. Guiding the University along a non-classical journey requires constantly predicting the future. I am proud that we’re the first non-classical university. It wasn’t that long ago that we made this the official motto of ITMO University.

How to form a dream team

I have a rule: I always try to understand why people want to work at the University, why do they want to come here. I try to identify what people love: them in the University or the University within them. If I see that people just love themselves then it’s not for us. When I see the opposite case, then I know that this is our kind of person.


My main supervillain is myself. In this case a villain isn’t someone who does bad things. This is more in the biblical sense where the villain is the one that takes the forbidden fruit, and is tempted by not quite the right act which knocks you off course. It’s like in the Schwartz fairy tales where the hero is fighting against the dragon and then turns into it himself.

About failures

I have a lot of strategic gaps. These are failures that affect the life of the University. I believe that I haven’t been able to build a network of alumni. I haven’t created a family where graduates could come and feel connected with the University. I set this task for myself about 5 years ago. So I’ve been sailing without a sail already for 15 years.