Richard Weden describes himself as a "corporate gypsy," having worked for American Express in foreign countries for most of the 31 years he has been with the company.
"This included a long stint in the Mexico office, during which time I saw the country experience two economic meltdowns on the same scale as Russia," said Weden, 58, a father of three.
The general manager was also instrumental in establishing American Express in China as the world's most populous nation began to open up to capitalism. The experience made him well-prepared for some of the convulsions that have taken place in post-Soviet Russia.
Weden has been in Moscow since 1995. Employees at American Express do not tend to work by contract, so he is free to stay or go as he pleases - as late as 2001 if he wishes. He says his daughter would like to complete high school in Moscow, so he will wait at least until that time before deciding on his next move.
Weden does not speak Russian, although he is fluent in Spanish. He said he is not proud of his lack of Russian language skills, but added that the reality is that almost all of his clients are foreign, and English is the common language of communication.
- MICHAEL HEATH