“A naturally enthusiastic person with a passion for perfection and quality in everything I do.”
Hometown: Tbilisi, Georgia
Fun fact about yourself: When I was 18, I lived in Atlanta, USA for several months, for my bachelor studies (as part of a semester-long exchange program of my university). To earn money in addition to my scholarship, I decided to babysit. My first and the last day of that job was with a family with three kids, where I had to babysit during the night while the parents were out partying.
Undergraduate School and Degree: Bachelor’s degree from Caucasus University, Caucasus School of Business
Where are you currently working? TBC Bank Group PLC, Head of Financial Planning & Analysis
What achievement are you most proud of in your professional career? I had been in my role as an auditor at PwC, for only two years when I was asked by a Senior Manager to take an in-charge role for one of the firm’s first-year audit clients. Formally, I had not yet reached a sufficiently senior position within the firm to be entrusted with managing an entire project! I was excited and scared at the same time. As always, deadlines were tight and it was an opportunity for me to prove that I actually was the “star performer” that some in the company called me.
At this stage, I combined some key skill sets. I used my technical expertise to thoroughly plan the project, identify key risks and design responses, and clearly communicate objectives cwith my team.
After many sleepless nights and no less fun, we were able to finish the project within the deadlines and with minimum involvement from the project manager – all with extremely positive feedback from the client.
My team and I received praise from the partner of the firm for our hard work and for going beyond what was first assigned. It felt great to have exceeded the expectations of this very senior leader and the experience set me on a path to success at the firm.
Why did you choose this school’s online MBA program? There are several reasons why I chose the IE Global Online MBA program:
- Consistently high international rankings
- Its unique approach to the online program – a blend of online and face-to-face experiences
- Teaching methodology based on real-world industry-based case studies
- Teaching format of online live videoconferences during weekends and online asynchronous discussion forums during the week
- Diversity of faculty and student base
- Extremely positive feedback from alumni I personally I know
Most importantly, after taking part in several information sessions and alumni talks, I had a feeling about IE that I had not felt with any other school.
What was your favorite part of being in an online MBA program? If I have to focus on just one… I would say it was connecting to and building life-long relationships with an amazing cohort of students from all over the world with diverse professional and personal backgrounds, and sharing their valuable experiences and points of view. The topics and discussions delved deep into everyone’s individual experiences and this helped me to better understand the specifics of various industries and topics beyond my specialty of Finance.
The flexibility of the mostly online format was super comfortable – and a must considering the need to balance my studies with a full-time demanding job and motherhood of a 3-year-old naughty boy. However, it was the face-to-face weeks, which are integral part of the program (and which, despite the pandemic, were made possible with the huge efforts of the school), that turned out to be one of the best things that ever happened to me. The ability to meet in-person with all these people really just further fosters relationships among students and adds tremendously to the overall MBA experience.
What was the most surprising thing about an online learning environment? Before starting the program, despite all the positive feedback I had gathered from the program’s alumni, I still had a mental image of a classroom of students all staring into their laptops. In reality, there’s a great deal of human interaction that goes on in a virtual classroom. We would regularly partner with each other to complete projects, and we bonded instantly. Some of my classmates are now my very close friends. It is absolutely possible to create long-lasting business relationships and friendships through online classes.
How did your online experience compare with your in-the-classroom experience as an undergraduate student? The main difference for me is that this time I had many more things on my plate: I had to balance my online MBA with the full-time job, motherhood, and social life. The classroom experience as an undergraduate student was totally different insofar as my life basically revolved around being just a student and socializing with classmates.
Another huge difference for me was also the teaching format and high level of collaboration amongst students and professors related to learning subjects. Online discussion forums and recorded videoconferences made it easy for me to follow the discussions and return to any point whenever necessary.
Most importantly, online learning coupled with my full-time job enabled me to immediately apply what I was learning and ‘test’ it in real time. This was facilitated by the teaching methodology based on real life cases. This was unlike my undergraduate studies when teaching mainly revolved around theoretical concepts without much reference to the real business world.
What is your best piece of advice to an applicant for thriving in an online MBA program?
1) Get ready for the challenge! The Online MBA, as much as it offers much-needed flexibility, is an equally challenging journey. Support from your family and friends is essential during this journey. Believe me, it is definitely worth it!
2) Plan your study time wisely by finding what works best for you.
3) Don’t be too shy to reach out to your classmates for help – the Online MBA is a challenging endeavor and it requires substantial investment of time. There will be times when you feel stuck between conflicting responsibilities, whether personal or work-related. Be ready to ask for or to offer your support to others. You are all in the same boat.
4) Take advantage of the diversity of your cohort and professors, as well as the wide alumni network of your school. Socialize and don’t skip the face-to-face opportunities.
5) Challenge the ideas and learnings discussed in online classroom by immediately applying them to your current job routine. Learning by doing is the best way to internalize those learnings.
6) Be active in terms of attending various jobs fairs and career planning events organized by the school. There will be plenty of such events throughout your MBA journey and it’s a great opportunity to get in direct touch with recruiters and find your desired job.
What would you change about an online MBA Program? As I mentioned above, the biggest takeaway from an MBA for me are the valuable connections I have built and life-long friends I have made. I am pretty sure, for other students as well, one of the most important aspects of coming to business school was to expand my professional and personal networks. Thus, I would recommend that schools further enhance these opportunities by holding more social events enabling people from different sections to know each other more.
For example, there have been 55 students in our intake, and we were divided into two sections. Besides from meeting students from another section during face-to-face weeks, I would have liked more opportunities to meet with them and socialize and would have also appreciated more online social events to allow people from different sections to meet and network.
How has your online education helped you in your current job? As I mentioned above, one of the greatest advantages of the online learning for me has been the ability to immediately apply and ‘test’ in real life what we were learning. For example, as part of my current job, I oversee the valuation of our subsidiaries. Practical examples and real-life insights provided by the Advanced Corporate Finance professor, Francisco Luis Quintero Berganza, helped me to make an immediate positive impact on my company.
Another great benefit of learning, while continuing to work, was that I was able to substantially advance my time management skills. This was actually noticed and highly appreciated by my employer.
Number of Hours Per Week Spent On Online MBA: 18-22 hours
What is your ultimate long-term professional goal? My long-term goal is to become a full stack Finance leader in the Banking industry and work for a major international bank. This involves me gaining deep industry experience for the next couple of years in my current role in the finance function of the Bank I work for, which I believe is the ideal place for me to succeed.
I believe that my specific professional experience in Finance across various industries and my recent exposure to international online MBA, have provided a strong foundation for me as a senior leader.