Become a very good observer and a listener; if one looks closely there’s so much to learn even in what seems to be very routine day-to-day life.
Could you share something unexpected about you?:
I still don’t know how to ride a bike – which is very inconvenient in Fontainebleau.
Tell us a little about yourself, your personal and professional journey so far?
I was born in and raised in Georgia just three years after it declared its independence from the Soviet Union. I mention that because in some way I always felt that me and my country were growing and developing together and in a way we still are.
After graduating from high school I decided to pursue my Bachelor’s in Finance. Since then, from the third year of my studies I have been working in the financial services industry. I have changed several roles during the past six years. Just before coming to INSEAD, I was working in the TBC Capital DCM team, which is the investment banking arm of one of the largest commercial banks in Georgia.
I would say that one of my favourite parts about my previous job was an opportunity to return the favour to my country - unsurprisingly, the Georgian capital market is relatively small, and our team was working very hard for its development.
Can you share a little about why you decided to pursue the MBA, and in particular, the INSEAD MBA?
I knew I would pursue an MBA degree at some point during my career after graduating from university, the only question was when and where.
One thing I was always sure about was that I wanted to gain international experience in any field I would pursue.
By the time I started the preparation process for MBA applications I had already decided that I wanted to continue my career in Europe. I had also decided that I wanted to shift gears and move away from my career in financial services.
Once the geography and post-MBA career aspect was decided I did not really question where I would pursue my MBA – INSEAD was the most logical choice for me, ranked among the best business schools in the world, with its diverse class and alumni network.
During the application process I talked to several alumni from different business schools in Europe, and these conversations were an additional reassurance that I wanted to become part of the INSEAD community.
What are your thoughts about the class experience, professors, the curriculum so far?
I would say that the class experience is the best part of the academic life at INSEAD. A big part of the learning comes not only from professors or the curriculum but my classmates.
It’s always interesting and refreshing to hear about the professional experiences of my classmates who were working in different parts of the world in various industries.
What is the student life like at INSEAD?
Always happening. If there is any activity or a topic you are interested in or passionate about, you will always find like-minded people in the class.
Even if you don’t have any plans for the day there is always someone who is happy to hike in the forest with you, discuss politics or party in the middle of the week.
My home campus is Fontainebleau and I think this is what defines student life at INSEAD. Everyone is in this small town where we can spend time with small groups but also be close enough to each other, enabling us to stick together.
Are you looking forward to anything in particular during your time on the programme?
I will not be original in my answer but it would have to be learning more about my classmates' professional, cultural and personal backgrounds, and traveling!
Could you share a little about your application process, securing financing, and making your way to Fontainebleau?
I would say the longest part for my whole preparation / application process was preparing for GMAT, the rest was relatively short. Even before starting my GMAT preparation, I looked at the essay requirements for the application.
I will not lie and say that I started drafting the essays long before the deadline. But I think just knowing what I had to write about in the future helped me shape the stories beforehand even if only at a subconscious level. The interview process was my favourite part of the process - I think if you look at it as at an opportunity to learn more about the university you are applying to, the stress accompanying the whole application process will subside naturally.
As for the financing part, I was lucky enough to obtain one of the scholarships offered at INSEAD. So, I can't stress enough the importance to applying to all the personally applicable scholarship groups. By the end of the day, I received a scholarship from the category I least expected and it is the main reason I can attend the classes.
On a closing note, Fontainebleau turned out to be the best fit for me as for a person who never lived outside of their country. Moving to a different place is always stressful, but I think Fontainebleau is the best starting point – a small town full of like-minded people ready to get to know each other and make life-long connections.
If you could share an admissions or application tip to someone who is considering the programme, what would you say?
Be genuine during the whole application process, be it for the writing essays for your application or during the interviews.
It is super important to find the best-fitting environment for your business school, so try to be honest when sharing and you will find that place with like-minded people.
Additionally, ask questions, reach out to alumni, and learn about the community at the business school of your choice.
Parting words of wisdom?
Never stop learning, and by that I don’t necessarily mean academics. Become a very good observer and a listener; if one looks closely there’s so much to learn even in what seems to be very routine day-to-day life.