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THE ROAD OF LEADERSHIP A TO Z

People admire and get interested in stories about humans; especially if the stories cover zero to hero people.

‘Starbucks’ coffee empire creator – Howard Schultz, famous TV host Oprah Winfrey, ‘Harry Potter’ author – J. K. Rowling, designer – Ralph Lauren, billionaire – Roman Abramovich, actor – Jim Carrey – before the world got to know these people, before recognition they had to walk the long road which was sometimes full of disappointment, rejection, depression, low positions and financial or personal problems. The experience of people who are leaders in different realms gives us hope that nothing is impossible.

‘Sometimes life hits us with the brick but do not lose hope.’ – These are the words from a person who got fired from the company he had founded. However, getting fired for Steve Jobs was the best possible pushing factor. The load of success was replaced by the simplicity of being an amateur. This event led him to the most creative period of his life.

We also have to remember that probability and luck decided nothing in these people’s lives. There are characteristics and skills that mould people into leaders and form the painful experiences into new energy and ideas.

In the modern business world a manager turns into a leader who takes care of the members of their team; they are consistent and composed in the thoughts and actions; they have hope in tomorrow, their own selves, people and new possibilities – exactly these kinds of leaders own the future. Similarly to the world’s large organizations, recently the role of a person and their importance have started to change on the Georgian market as well. Thus, it is interesting to see the experiences of those people who turned into leaders in the Georgian reality and create the latest tendencies of management.

This was in 2000, a career start for that time student - Giorgi Makaradze who now heads the Latvian auto leasing company ‘Mogo’ in Uzbekistan.

‘I started a family at a very early age – when I was 19 years old. At the same time I was studying at ‘Caucasus School of Business’. This was the time when finding a job was very difficult. A vacancy for a driver position appeared and I took it. For 2 years I learned how to communicate with people from different age groups in a very large department’.

First big experience was TBC Bank, where in the duration of 3 years, he managed to get promoted from being a credit analyst to a senior credit analyst.

‘TBC Bank was the first place where I developed my corporate values and business ethics. Sometimes I was working till midnight. I was in charge of a large portfolio. During this time, my friend - Nika Kurdiani, who now serves as a deputy director of TBC Bank, suggested that I go to Madrid. I got accepted at ‘IE Business School’, which ranked 6th in the world, took a student loan and went to Madrid. In my group there were 60 students from 40 different countries. While we were discussing financial cases some people were telling about India, Barbados and Japan. I was telling about Georgia which helped me widen my worldview and start thinking globally. I wanted to gain international experience and spend 2-3 years abroad.’

During that time, in 2008, the global financial crisis started in the U.S. which gradually turned into the world financial and economic crisis. Highest level of unemployment, after the World War 2, started to appear in the most developed 30 countries.

‘This was the worst time to start a new stage of life after studies. Having a banking experience I was looking for a job in Europe where European bankers were made redundant. I was sending CVs to around 50 companies and only two of them contacted via Skype. Their first question was if I had a work permit to start working in the EU. After hearing the answer they said goodbye. I got back to Georgia unemployed with my wife, 2 kids and loan.’

Not everybody can withstand despair in these situations. Nevertheless, the number of failures caused by the temporary crisis triggering discouragement is much more than the failures caused by invincible problems. Finally, we, humans end up in the places where we are needed. For example as Giorgi did in Israel with a status of a representative of Bank of Georgia.

‘The method they used to hire me I also used a few times to hire other people. In the last stage they told me that they could not let me go home to make up my mind – either I had to sign the contract there or we needed to say farewell. I was left in the room with indefinite time and phone. I called my wife and said to pack and that we were going to Israel. That’s how I ended up in Israel for three years.’

Five years ago he joined ‘Mogo’ team where at first he was in charge of developing company from the ground on the Georgian market.

‘I was always part of a large corporate team – one small piece in a flawlessly working watch. Suddenly I ended up in a startup which only had a LLC title and a bank account. I was afraid not to fail, not to make a mistake. Then I calmed down and followed the process gradually. From those 10 people that we hired from the beginning only 2 turned out to be the best – one of them had a one month working experience as an installment manager and the second one used to work in the children’s clothing store. None of them had a big experience in the finance. They just had skills that we needed. At the beginning of every work there are two approaches – not to start processes until we are ideally prepared, or – let’s start and develop in the process. I support the second approach. I came across with one phrase during the time when I was starting everything and when I was afraid of making mistakes. Up until now I remember it – ‘minimize the cost of a mistake and make many mistakes.’ It is alright to make mistakes. The main thing is them not to be fatal.’

In today’s fast changing surrounding leader’s flexibility and skill to make changes have decisive importance; the number and quality of made and implemented decisions. This way every person becomes important for the organization because it is a human who is the endless source of ideas and possibilities. How do new generation’s managers cope with better using the resources of their employees? People think some are born to be good leaders. In reality everybody can become a good manager if they define goals and ways how to achieve those goals within their teams; if they can manage to allocate responsibilities and competences of their team members on specific tasks.

‘When company’s initial fast development got slower we learned that the work that could be done by 5 people were actually carried out by 10 of them. We determined KPI (Key Performance Indicators – a system used to assess performance) for each employee. After one month we sat down and analyzed how they were performed; we gave a right direction to those who made some mistakes. After 3 months only those stayed within company whose performance turned out to be effective. Nobody left angry – they saw the results of their own and others and that’s why.’

After managing a Georgian company in Israel and international company in Georgia now was the time for the new challenge – to develop an international company on an international market from the ground.

‘‘Mogo’ was starting to operate in two countries and they gave me a choice where to go – Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. I knew that I was good at what I was doing and that’s why they showed trust towards me. I chose Uzbekistan, a country which is only now waking up and the whole market needs to be developed. Which skills helped me throughout all the above-mentioned stages of life? The one that I never do the same what I always disliked among bad managers; I try not to have constantly disturbed, negative people in my team; every time I found myself in a comfort zone and afforded myself to relax the success rate always started to decrease and I learned my lesson; I am not scared of changes and I am always open to new ventures.’

The aim of the project ‘Business Café’, developed by a consultation company ‘Insource’, is to introduce these kinds of novice leaders to the business circles alongside with exchanging the ongoing business processes and news between the heads of various companies. ‘Business Café’ is supported by TBC Insurance and it is implemented to share latest tendencies and experience among highest level of managers.

Author: Mariam Kanchaveli

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