Vladimir Potanin graduated from the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) in 1983 with a degree in International Economics. After graduating he spent seven years working for the USSR Ministry of Foreign Trade.
In 1990, Mr Potanin founded the Interros Foreign Trade Association and became the head of it. In 1993, he took the post of President at UNEXIM Bank and Chairman of the Board of Directors at the International Company for Finance and Investments (MFK).
From 14 August 1996 until 17 March 1997, Mr Potanin was the First Deputy Chairman of the Russian Federation Government overseeing economics, liaising between various ministries and government agencies, and heading some twenty federal, government and interagency commissions.
In May 1997, Mr Potanin became the head of UNEXIM Bank once again. In one year, on the back of business restructuring, he took the post of President at Interros Holding Company to spearhead dozens of major investment projects in metals and mining, engineering, finance, real estate development, pharmaceuticals, media, and entertainment.
In December 2012, Mr Potanin became the CEO of MMC Norilsk Nickel.
Vladimir Potanin is closely involved in community support and philanthropic initiatives. In 1999, he established the Vladimir Potanin Foundation, a non-profit charity with a mandate for implementing socially significant long-term educational and cultural projects in Russia.
Mr Potanin is a Trustee of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation (New York) and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the State Hermitage Museum. His donations to the State Hermitage Museum Endowment Fund total USD 5 mln.
Mr Potanin is also known for extending support to his alma mater, with donations to the MGIMO Endowment Fund standing at circa USD 6.5 mln.
In 2010, Mr Potanin announced his decision to donate most of his fortune to charity. In 2013, he joined the Giving Pledge, an international philanthropic initiative.
As a member of the Civic Chamber of the Russian Federation from 2006 to 2014, Mr Potanin headed its philanthropy, charity and volunteering commissions, as well as commissions for the promotion of charity and improvement of legislation on non-profit organisations.
Under his leadership, those commissions introduced a number of initiatives that have improved the legal framework for charity operations in Russia. For example, the Federal Law On the Procedure of Establishment and Use of Special Purpose Endowments by Non-Profit Organisations was drafted jointly with the Russian Ministry of Economic Development and became effective in 2007, and also Tax Code amendments on non-profits and broader charity activities and amendments to the Law On Advertising promoting social advertising were approved.
Mr Potanin also provides support to Russian sports organisations. In 20072012, he was a member of the Presidium of the Russian Presidents Council for the Development of Physical Culture and Sports, High-Achievement Sports, Preparation and Staging of the XXII Winter Olympic Games and XI Paralympic Games in Sochi in 2014. In 20072014, he sat on the Supervisory Board of the Sochi 2014 Organising Committee.
Currently, Mr Potanin is a member of the Council of Trustees and the Board of the Russian Olympians Foundation.
Vladimir Potanin is a holder of the following government and non-government awards and distinctions:
- 4th class Order of Merit to the Fatherland (2007) for active promoting of Sochis bid to host the XXII Winter Olympic Games in 2014
- 3d class Order of Merit to the Fatherland (2016)
- Order of Alexander Nevsky (2014) for taking part in organising, preparing and holding the Sochi Games
- Medal in Commemoration of the 850th Anniversary of Moscow
- Medal in Commemoration of the 300th Anniversary of St Petersburg
- Badge of Honour for Philanthropy and Charity from the Ministry of Education of the Russian Federation (2002)
- Officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters (2007)
- Knight of the Legion of Honour
- Knight of the Order of St Paul the Apostle (Cyprus) for social and humanitarian activities in support of the church
- Holder of the State Diploma and the Golden Olive Branch awarded in gratitude for profound contribution to the development of cultural links and fostering friendly relations between Cyprus and Russia (2010)
- Orders of Saint Vladimir (2nd and 3rd classes), of Holy Prince Daniel of Moscow (1st and 2nd classes), of St Sergius of Radonezh (1st, 2nd and 3rd classes) and of Seraphim of Sarov (1st class), a Builder of Churches Patriarchal Award and a Patriarchal Award of St Barbara the Great-Martyr (1st class) (for the services to the Russian Orthodox Church)