Meet the MBA Class of 2023: Tamuna Andguladze, INSEAD

Tamuna Andguladze


“Per aspera ad astra.”

Hometown: Tbilisi, Georgia

Fun Fact About Yourself: When I started working as a Loan Officer at 26 at the European Investment Bank, I was the youngest person such position was ever proposed to. The youngest one after me was 36 years old.  

Undergraduate School and Major: Georgian American University in Tbilisi, Georgia. Bachelor of Business Administration

Most Recent Employer and Job Title: Project Implementation Expert (External Contractor) at the European Investment Bank.

INSEAD is one of the most culturally and professionally diverse MBA programs in the world. How do you see these global perspectives enhancing the value of your business education over the next year? In my opinion, high level of cultural and professional diversity is key in that it brings fresh ideas and stimulates multicultural views on situations.

In 2016, I started working as a Loan Officer at the European Investment Bank (EIB) covering lending to banks in the EU Neighbouring Countries Department. When I moved to Luxembourg, I exposed myself to various new cultures, mostly European and Arab Countries. At such multinational environment, I have always kept an open heart and mind in order to find common grounds with the team members and unite them with a common goal.

However, my exposure to people coming from other continents, such as Asia, Africa or Latin America, is quite limited. Therefore, I am looking forward to a very pleasant experience of meeting classmates from these regions and learning about their cultural differences. Exposure to such diverse class at INSEAD will undoubtedly further enhance my ability to build relationships and work with people with various backgrounds. This experience will support me to become more empathetic and tolerant to other people.

Aside from your classmates, what was the key part of INSEAD’s MBA programming that led you to choose this business school and why was it so important to you? INSEAD Business School develops brave leaders who are willing to transform the world and create a positive impact on people’s lives. This mission exactly matches my goals, as I want to dedicate my work to making a long-term positive impact on people‘s living conditions in the developing countries. The idea of applying to INSEAD and meeting some of the world’s most influential management thinkers, such as W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne, Erin Meyer, Gianpiero Petriglieri: does it get any better than that?

In addition, my Bachelor’s degree is already in Business Administration with major in Finance and I already have a significant business background. In this context, I was not interested in dedicating two years to redoing the core curriculum. INSEAD is one of the very few business schools that offers a unique opportunity of 1-Year MBA program, which would address the identified critical gaps in my experience and allow me to quickly return to workforce.

What has been your first impression of the INSEAD MBA students and alumni you’ve met so far. Tell us your best INSEAD story so far. At the moment of submission of this questionnaire, I am still residing in Luxembourg and have not yet moved to France. Therefore, for the time being I have made most of my acquaintances at the INSEAD virtually. At this stage, my two favourite INSEAD stories are:

  1. I have just learned recently that one of my classmates used quite unusual means of transport in order to move to Fontainebleau: he rode a horse all the way from Austria to France. I found this story charming and very environment-friendly.
  2. This year, there were only two Georgians admitted to the MBA class, one of them being myself. I was quite amazed to discover in January that another Georgian girl is my friend and former colleague! We did not even know about the applications of each other. I would imagine the likelihood of such coincidence is one in a million.

What course, club or activity excites you the most at INSEAD? I am very excited by the Entrepreneurship Club in that it allows me to gain from and share knowledge with other entrepreneurs. As a person who worked extensively on various initiatives to enhance access to finance and provide technical assistance to start-ups in the Middle East and Eastern Europe, I am also happy to share my experience and ideas in these regards.

Another exiting club for me is Women in Business as I deeply care about the women’s financial and social inclusion. Being raised in a patriarchal society, I have also been experiencing a social pressure based on the cultural concept that woman’ place is at home. However, I always fought against this concept to be applied on myself. I have always tried my best to advocate rights and social inclusion of the underserved segments, especially in a deeply traditionalist society, such as Arab Countries.

Describe your biggest accomplishment in your career so far: The biggest achievement that I am most proud of in my life is leading on and successfully finalising the Urgent Solidarity Support package in the amount of EUR 668m that the European Investment Bank made available to the country in March 2022.

In the morning of 24 February 2022, my Ukrainian friends, their families and millions of others woke up to explosions in their hometowns as Russia begun a full-scale military invasion of Ukraine. I was devastated that after all the promises of “NEVER AGAIN”, the war was brought back to the European continent.

At the European Investment Bank, we started immediately exploring the possibility to make available a package of interventions, including making available substantial liquidity in support of the Ukrainian economy during the emergency situation. We identified two operations that were best suited to serve such purpose.

We worked around the clock in order to obtain multiple internal approvals for a bespoke solution at the EIB, which would allow us to rapidly make available substantial liquidity to Ukraine. Following an approval by the emergency Board of Directors Meeting on 4 March 2022, we expeditiously transferred EUR 668m to the Ministry of Finance of Ukraine to help the State meet its immediate financial needs, such as food, medicine and fuel.

During those days, I had numerous calls with colleagues from the Ministry as well as Ukrainian banks. Sometimes, I could hear the sounds of shells exploding on the background. Very often Ukrainian colleagues, even grown-up men, would cry and tell me their stories – how they did not manage to evacuate their families and were sitting in the basements scared for their lives. We were most determined to do everything we can to support Ukraine. My emotions were also reflecting the earlier ones experienced by me during the Russian war with Georgia in August 2008.

I am most grateful to God that I was at the European Investment Bank during those days and that I was given this incredible opportunity to work on the transaction providing such a substantial support to Ukraine.

What led you to pursue an MBA at this point and what do you hope to do after graduation? My aspiration is to support my home country Georgia to enhance its economic resilience in order to ultimately become a Member State of the European Union.

At the EIB, I developed the first partial portfolio guarantees signed with banks in Georgia, Ukraine, and Palestine enabling financing multiple start-up ideas. In future, I want to leverage on this experience and set up a first Guarantee Agency in Georgia. The Agency would improve access to finance for start-ups as well as small and medium enterprises through providing risk-sharing instruments to banks and would contribute to strengthening economic resilience of Georgia in preparation for joining the EU.

While I have sufficient technical knowledge, I realize that implementing a venture of such scale requires extensive entrepreneurship and business management skills. At this moment in my life, I feel that I want to push myself further and tackle new challenges in my life in order to continue growing professionally. Against this background, I need an MBA to bridge this critical gap in my knowledge and gain in-depth understanding of how a business management works.

What is one thing you have recently read, watched, or listened to that you would highly recommend to prospective MBAs? Why? I would highly recommend watching TV show Suits. Despite the fact that the show is generally for entertainment, one could really get inspired by its motivational dialogues and derive some great life lessons. For instance, one of the motivational lessons for me was the importance of hard work captured in phrase “The only time success comes before work is in the dictionary.” Conflict management advice is well presented in “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument.” I think the most important lesson for me was that “It is possible to win in a no-win situation by rewriting the rules,” which I have successfully applied throughout my career a few times.

What other MBA programs did you apply to? I have also applied to 1Y MBA Programme at Kellogg Business School.

What advice would you give to help potential applicants gain admission into INSEAD’s MBA program? The most important advice would be: Never give up on your goals and strive through all hardships to the stars!

It is crucial to be genuinely yourself and show your personality throughout the MBA Application, especially in the essays. Show who you are as a person, highlight your strengths and weaknesses, which may even be hidden strengths.


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