Twice named TIME's Man of the Year, in 1987 and 1989, Gorbachev was active in Soviet party work for four decades. In naming him Man of the Year for 1987, TIME observed that by 1982 Gorbachev was already well positioned for the national leadership role he took over in 1985: "While still in charge of farming, he gathered Soviet academic experts for a series of seminars held sometimes in the Central Committee offices, sometimes in a dacha outside Moscow.
The sessions started with problems of agriculture but quickly developed into freewheeling discussions of what was wrong with the economy in general and how it might be fixed... The rising Kremlin star got a firsthand look at how far the Soviet economy had fallen behind the West's."
Researched by Joan Levinstein, the Time Inc. Research Center