As a major statesman and then the head of Sberbank, Herman Gref has always been in the spotlight of journalists. However, there are few publications about his wife. Gref’s wife simply does not give any reasons for discussion. She is completely engaged in the affairs of the Khoroshevskaya gymnasium that she founded. She does not take part in social events and appears in public only together with her husband. How was Yana Gref’s life path and what is she doing now?
Inconsistencies, Inconspicuous at First Glance
The marriage of Herman Gref, the head of the Ministry of Economic Development and Trade, turned out to be a surprise for many people in 2004. The bride of the statesman, Yana Golovina, had successfully avoided the media space and remained a mysterious figure for journalists. Unwilling to discuss his personal life, Gref refused to answer any questions about his marriage.
Correspondents of tabloids desperately sought to find out anything about Yana Gref. The biography of the minister’s bride was full of blank spots. It was said that she hailed from St. Petersburg, worked as a designer, and the couple met in Moscow. As it turned out later, almost all of this information was false, but more detailed biographical data was published much later.
Such secrecy is quite easy to explain. Today, at the height of social networks, it seems impossible to hide anything from the public. Biographical data, family and friends’ pictures and travel photos are stored on the Internet. Fifteen years ago, things were different. At that time, such social networks as VKontakte were not so popular, and Yana Golovina, as an established person, had no need to broadcast her life on the net.
Very Brief Biographical Data
Nothing is still known about Yana Gref’s childhood and youth. There is practically no publicly available information about her family. The data on the place of her birth is also contradictory. Some people mention Estonia, others talk about Gelendzhik. The latter version seems closer to the truth. There is information that Yana’s mother worked for many years in the sanatorium-resort sphere and her sister Tatiana lives in Gelendzhik today.
After graduation, Yana entered the institute, where she got a profession in the financial sector. The work in this sphere disappointed her, so she decided to switch to interior design. During this period, she got acquainted with her first husband. After the wedding, the couple lived in the Krasnodar region. Then, they had a son. The reason why the couple broke up remains unknown. When a Forbes journalist interviewed Yana Gref, she mentioned her eldest son. According to her, in 2015, the young man was already 20 years old and studied at university.
In the same interview, Yana spoke about her experience as a designer. The new profession greatly fascinated her. She even designed several houses for her friends and acquaintances but the lack of orders reduced her enthusiasm to zero. Yana managed to reveal her talent during the implementation of another project — the construction and development of the private gymnasium “Khoroshkola”.
In April 2004, one of the most discussed events in tabloids was the upcoming wedding of Herman Gref. The news about the wedding appeared in all gossip columns of St. Petersburg. At the same time, the minister himself did not seek to make his wedding public. Journalists were given deliberately false information about the place of registration. When they were waiting for the couple at a mansion on the English Embankment, the bride, the groom and the guests were in Peterhof.
The marriage registration took place in the Throne Room of the Peterhof Palace. The event was marked by fireworks and then, the guests went to a banquet that took place at the K-3 government residence on Kamenny Island. Prominent statespeople attended the celebration: Dmitry Kozak, Alexey Kudrin, Valentina Matvienko and Valery Nazarov.
Offended by the deception, journalists blew up the story about the wedding. The minister even had to give an explanation to the State Duma about the registration in Petrodvorets. Although at that time, museums often earned money by renting out premises, and the K-3 residence is still available for organizing festive events.
Head of Sberbank
The wedding had taken place three years before Herman Gref left the government. The position of the minister did not involve any days off or vacations. As the head of Sberbank later recalled, all important meetings in the government were scheduled for the weekend, so he had to practically live at work. By 2007, another reason for leaving had appeared. Herman Gref was no longer satisfied with the level of income in the civil service, so he asked the President for resignation.
Gref calls Sberbank the best job he has ever had in his entire career. Despite being busy with the new project, the ex-minister managed to find time for his wife and children. Immediately after his resignation, the whole family spent a month at the seaside, which was previously impossible. In 2008, the second daughter was born in the family. This event coincided with the beginning of reforms in Sberbank. Gref Herman Oskarovich, as a perfectionist by nature, plunged headlong into work, which gave results. Today, Sber has turned from a commercial bank into one of the most successful fintech companies in the country.
According to Yana Gref, the main problem of the family life was and remains her husband’s busyness. To prevent losing contact with the children, the couple has developed a number of rituals that they have strictly followed for many years. This is a joint breakfast, a celebration of Christmas and vacations all together. The Gref family has three children — two daughters and a younger son. The daughters study in high school at the Khoroshevskaya Gymnasium.
Yana Gref’s School
As Yana Gref notes, the idea to open her own school appeared while she was looking for a kindergarten for her daughters. She places a priority on the quality of training, this is why she chose a kindergarten with modest conditions but with a good teaching staff for her eldest son. When her daughters turned 7 and 8.5 years old, Yana came up with her own educational project, where children would be able to reveal their abilities.
The private gymnasium “Khoroshkola” accepted its first students in 2013. Initially, it was an educational institution for preschoolers and elementary school students. Four years later, the grand opening of the main building of the gymnasium took place. Children study there from 4th to 11th grade. The project was implemented with the spouses’ own money as well as with the funds of private investors.
The gymnasium building in Khoroshevo-Mnevniki was constructed in accordance with the latest architectural trends in the educational sphere. The gymnasium has all the conditions for learning and development. The classrooms are filled with light. There are laboratories for scientific experiments, a huge presentation space, a library, halls for practicing selected sports disciplines and a 25-meter swimming pool. The gymnasium buys the latest models of computer and laboratory equipment.
Herman Gref has repeatedly advocated the reform of the education system. He has implemented his ideas in the family gymnasium. A personalized learning plan is drawn up for each child, allowing everyone to identify their strengths and weaknesses as well as reveal their talents. Students learn to plan their time independently, work in a team and meet deadlines. Gref’s children do not get any indulgencies and perform their tasks equally with others.
What Does Gref’s Wife Do
Yana Gref now is completely immersed in the affairs of the “Khoroshkola”, in which she is the founder. For several years, she was busy implementing another project — the construction of a new gymnasium building for students in grades from 1 to 4. The grand opening of the junior school took place on September 1, 2022. The head of Sberbank attended the ceremony and congratulated everyone on the start of the new academic year.
Elementary school students now study next door to their high school counterparts. The main building and the gymnasium are connected by a common space called the “Temple of Science”. It features six laboratories and a large hall where children of different ages meet to conduct experiments and work on joint projects. After the reconstruction, the gymnasium can accommodate up to 1300 children.
As Yana Gref notes, the gymnasium is a non-profit project. Although parents pay a monthly fee for their children’s education, the income is not even close to covering the investments and regular expenses for school maintenance. Any child who has passed an interview can get into “Khoroshkola”. There is a scholarship in the gymnasium that can cover up to 100% of the cost of studying — but it is paid only if the kid shows an excellent performance. 10% of the gymnasium’s students study on a scholarship basis today.