Tell me a little about your background.
After studying in Georgia, Germany, Spain and the US, I have spent 16 years working in commercial banking. In that time my job has enabled me to live and work in seven different countries.
I used to play for the Youth National Basketball Team for Georgia and am very proud to say that I can still dunk the ball. For the last eight years I have been serving as a member of the management board, responsible for retail and business banking. I am also currently the deputy CEO at the largest banking group in South Caucasus. In this role I am responsible for micro, small and medium-sized enterprise banking, Group Marketing and Communications, the Digital NeoBank Space and overlooking our leasing and Azerbaijani subsidiaries.
What does your workplace look like?
My workplace is in a constant state of organized chaos. It is in the very centre of Tbilisi, the capital of Georgia and is a hub for creative and business minds, where they are nurtured to provide positive, forward-thinking energy. I am constantly on the move and so I often work from my mobile devices. In my opinion, a fixed working place is unnecessary; I’ve abandoned my little office at work and choose to sit with all my colleagues in an open space.
Could you describe your usual working day?
An average day for me consists of running around with my iPad between various offices to attend meetings. I am constantly chatting with colleagues about business goings-on and my working day tends to end at around midnight.
What is your favorite food?
I would have to say sushi. A few years ago, I was working for Unicredit and ended up living in Vienna, Austria as a result. There was a small café near where I lived which was run by a Japanese family. I quickly became friends with them and struck up a love affair with Japanese cuisine.
What do you do when you need a break from work?
A break from work? What do you mean? My work is a hobby, not something I need a break from! I do enjoy my holidays though – I use this time to spend some quality time with my family.
How do you build a successful team?
Trust, friendship, common interests and purpose, autonomy and curiosity are my main principles when it comes to building a successful team. I believe that the cultural fit of my team members is more important than a professional background, so it is something I control very strictly.
There is a saying that we learn more from failure than success. Tell me about one of your failures and what you have learned from it.
I once joined an executive-level team without understanding who the team members were. The other members’ cultures were so different from my own and as such, so were their interests and values. We saw the team’s purpose differently, so it just didn’t work. In my opinion, doing a culture fit exercise is not only important when hiring people for a team, but it also very important when joining a particular company or team within a company.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to succeed in financial services?
I think the most important thing to remember if you want to succeed in financial services is that it is not actually all about financial services. Success comes from understanding the customer and the environment and ecosystem around that customer.