Meet IESE Business School’s MBA Class Of 2021

Nana Gobadze

IESE Business School Class of 2021 at the University of Navarra

“Dreamer and doer, genuine, passionate about people, life, and big ideas.”

Hometown: Tbilisi, Georgias

Fun Fact About Yourself: I have watched the Back to the Future trilogy (Robert Zemeckis) more than 100 times and I believe that time-traveling DeLorean will be invented soon.

Undergraduate School and Major: Free University of Tbilisi, ESM – Tbilisi, BBA

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: JSC TBC Bank (the largest private bank in Caucasus region. The company is listed on LSE premium segment and provides financial services in Georgia, Israel, Azerbaijan and Uzbekistan), Sector Head, Food Industry, Corporate and Investment Banking Division.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: I am most proud of my inputs in the development of my country’s economy and capital markets. During the nine years of banking, I’ve supported many interesting projects for my clients and I’m happy to see these companies as key players in different industries and important drivers of the economy. I can also say that I have contributed a lot to the progress of capital markets in Georgia trough the enhancement of syndicate transactions with the local and international financial institutions and through the development of the corporate bond market by initiating and facilitating the process of issuing corporate bonds for my clients. One of the most memorable projects is the financing of a start-up confectionary factory. At that point, most of the chocolate/sweets were imported to my country; today this local producer holds up to 30% of the Georgian market and has started exporting its goods to neighboring countries.

What quality best describes the MBA classmates you’ve met so far and why? I would say they seem super positive, full of energy and supportive, open to new opportunities, and curious. It is obvious that they are up to learn as much as possible, get to know as many different cultures as possible, and make a mark and help the world to change. So, all of them, no matter how diverse, are ready to share their experience and knowledge with you.

What makes the case method so attractive as a means to learn and become a better manager? For me, theory is nothing unless it is applied to practice. The case method is focused on general management, leadership, and decision-making. It makes you familiar with different theories. At the same time, it shows their application to the practice. I think this method prepares you better for the real-life and for the VUCA world. Apart from that, discussing case studies in cross-cultural teams and listening to the ideas of amazing student body from more than 60 countries with different backgrounds is an experience every manager dreams of. This will help you understand different people, appreciate how they think, and recognize what they value. This eventually will help you become a better manager and leader.

Aside from classmates and cases, what was the key factor that led you to choose this program for your full-time MBA and why was it so important to you? IESE has quite a strong brand name and rating. It provides good opportunities to make international career in finance (according to the last employment report more than 20% of the class continued their career in finance), the entrepreneurial spirit of Barcelona is very appealing, and I was awarded a good scholarship here.

However, the key factor in choosing IESE over other business schools was the family and supportive culture that I have felt with every interaction with the admission office, students, alumni, or professors. For this reason, IESE stands apart from other options. I’ll never forget my interview day. I was so surprised by such a deep individual approach. On that day, while answering lots of behavioral questions, it became obvious to me that IESE really cares about the family culture and each member of the family is important for the school. I saw how carefully they are choosing new IESEans. It is invaluable for me to join this big, strong, and diverse family. I am sure that I will spend the next two years in a caring and supportive environment and can really on these bonds throughout my lifetime.

What club or activity are you looking most forward to in business school?  The Women in Business Club, the IESE Responsible Business Club, Finance Club, and the Private Equity Club. Besides, I’m thinking of joining various student-run activities but have not made my final decision since you really have too many choices, beginning from Beach Volleyball Club ending to Salsa Club (though I have never been good at sports or dancing). Still, these clubs promise lots of fun and amusement.

What was the most challenging question you were asked during the admissions process? I do not remember the question exactly, but the idea was to tell about the situation when you did something very important for another person, something that has changed his or her life.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point in your career? I’ve had a successful career marked by four promotions to my current role as Sector Head. I’m pleased to have handled so many deals and to have gained so many local and international contacts at this young age. As of now, I’ve gained vast experience and skills in leadership, team leadership, banking, M&A deals, turnaround management, financial analysis, and working with international organizations. I’ve also gained valuable entrepreneurial experience through starting and growing my own business. However, to perform a truly global managerial role, I still need to develop leadership and management skills, strategic thinking, and gain more international and influential contacts. MBA promises me incomparable prospects for gaining knowledge that can be applied in practice, access to global financial institutions, contacts among influential businesspeople, and a network of accomplished, diverse students.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? London Business School and Columbia Business School

How did you determine your fit at various schools? My priorities are finance and entrepreneurship. Therefore, I prioritized schools that were strong in these areas. I paid attention to the brand name and rating of the business schools. In addition, I evaluated my scholarship opportunities there. To research culture and to check the fit for my career goals, I have actively communicated with many current students and Alumni.  Also, I have carefully reviewed employment reports and lists of the companies recruiting on campus.

What was your defining moment and how did it shape who you are? I have spent my whole childhood and early school years in Georgia (my home county), dominated by corruption practices and with no prospect of development. In 2003, when I was at high school, The Revolution of Roses took place, a peaceful revolution replacing the Soviet era of leadership with Western-oriented Government. In couple of years, the progress of the county was evident. At that moment, I have realized that we, Georgians, can build a real democratic country. Until that time, I did not believe in the prospects of my country and was often considering living abroad. Since then, I have decided to stay in Georgia, and as a young professional with a decent education, help the development of the economy. My plans remain the same. After receiving further education and international work experience, I intend to come back home and continue contributing to the economy and people.

Where do you see yourself in ten years? I see myself as the CEO of a global investment fund that operates in the Caucasus Region, Eastern Europe, and Central Asia. Many markets in these regions are still underserved and need a much stronger presence of capital to develop their economies and increase the standard of living. I come from the part of the world where many other important issues need to be addressed so that people get the opportunity to explore and use their potentials and have prospects for a better life. Therefore, I see myself as a chairwoman of a charitable fund oriented on giving chances to young people for education. Also, as the CEO of a successful, multinational company, I see myself serving as a model of a strong female executive and using my position and influence to pave the way for others. I want to encourage and empower women to take more senior roles and increase their presence in management.

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