Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Keta Pavlenishvili, University of Toronto (Rotman)

Keta Pavlenishvili

Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto

“Positive, loyal, inclusive, open and approachable.”

Hometown: Tbilisi, Georgia

Fun Fact About Yourself: My dream job is Santa Claus.

Undergraduate School and Major: ESM Business School, Finance (Tbilisi, Georgia)

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Willis Towers Watson Georgia, Managing Director

Integrative thinking is one of the cornerstones of the Rotman MBA experience. What does integrative thinking mean to you and how have you been able to apply it thus far? For me, integrative thinking is zooming out to see relatively big picture, comprehending the concepts and designing creative solutions even in very challenging situations. It is indeed a very important skill in today’s fast-changing world and Rotman provides various important tools to exercise it. At Rotman, we always have up-to-date, real-world problems to be solved both quantitatively and qualitatively. The curriculum is constructed in a way that, even in the orientation week, we were exposed to bring our ideas to tackle issues connected with managing people and diverse teams. Every day, we analyze different frameworks to learn structuring our thoughts, for example we already have strategy classes focused specifically on innovative outcomes and challenging each other’s ideas.

What has been your favorite part of Toronto so far? What has made it such a great place to earn an MBA? From the first day you arrive in Toronto, you are not a foreigner. No matter where you come from, you are the best fit here. You might hear about diversity and opportunities before coming, but you cannot embrace it in full until you arrive. Wherever you go, whatever you do, it just feels right to be here for literally anyone. I really enjoy that I cannot tell which country I am at, as the city is so diverse in every aspect – people, cuisine, celebrated festivals, and different cultures.

Aside from your classmates and location, what was the key part of the Rotman MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? I loved the idea of Self-Development Lab. That is a place where you as a person learn about yourself, your habits, and your non-verbal skills. Your presentations or speeches are recorded and then analyzed with you. Moreover, we as Rotman students have access to all University of Toronto resources that is limitless. The variety of resources is just beyond imagination. No matter what your interests are outside the class, you can find anything whether it is Aerospace, AI or mental health.

What course, club or activity have you enjoyed the most so far at Rotman? Personally, as a Forte Fellow and a female from male-dominated society, I would cite WIMA (Rotman Women in Management). The club focuses on women development through education and seminars. It has already hosted several incredible events with Google and other companies. Moreover, we have an opportunity to become mentors through a mentoring program LINKS, which connects UofT students across faculties. We get a chance to mentor female undergrad students, get trainings about how to be a good mentor, and gain real life experience on how to motivate and encourage a totally unknown person to us. I really enjoy this process as it supports our personal development and broadens horizons.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far:  I started my first full-time job in an insurance brokerage company, Willis Towers Watson Georgia. After several years was promoted to Network Country Leader. Back then I was the youngest country manager across 140 countries.

Describe your biggest accomplishment as an MBA student so far: For me, it was not easy to be back to school after 10 years, especially with such a rigorous academic study and all outside classroom activities. I would say at this moment my biggest accomplishment is better time management. I am still in the process of adapting, but I definitely see big improvement compared to the last term.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into the Rotman MBA program? I think Rotman’s essay is outstanding from all business schools in the world. Every person has a spike factor, but sometimes we just do not know what it is. Sometimes, we do not have enough time to think of it or simply we underestimate even simple traits that kept us alive and constantly moving. The Rotman essay is not just about writing an admission essay or specific achievements but rather about self-reflection as a person. It is a great opportunity to analyze your traits, what makes you not stand in one place, what pushes you not to hold still and continue studies or perhaps even change your country. There is something that nudges you, so use this process to understand what it is.

My overall advice would be this: Do not underestimate yourself and things you have done. And what is most important DO NOT self-select out yourself!


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