''The answer to any question is the need for continuous development, and a set goal gives me inspiration'', - Tiko Magradze
"With your extremely hard work ethic, you will no doubt make the world a better place", - this is how a lecturer at the NYU Stern School of Business described graduate student of the same university Tiko Maghradze. She is currently working on her own projects both in the USA and Georgia in the field of strategic planning, crisis and risk management.
A business consultant in strategic planning, risk management, startup and innovative project development, emergency management, and business rehabilitation – Tiko Magradze is already well known to our readers. She is currently studying for an Executive Master's Degree at the NYU Stern School of Business and is in parallel working on her own projects both in the USA and Georgia.
Over the years, Tiko has held the highest positions in the corporate hierarchies of various organizations. She built a very successful career, yet decided to leave her latest CEO position and embark on a completely new adventure "in the land of opportunities" in order to scale her abilities on the global stage and reach new heights.
Making such extraordinary decisions isn't new for Tiko. She originally planned to develop her medical career, but after graduating from the Medical University, she went on to achieve considerable success in the corporate world.
Her desire for continuous development brought her closer to the startup ecosystem and eventually led to consulting. Today, the c-level professional with 15 years of international experience is deepening her theoretical and practical knowledge at one of the most prestigious schools in the world. Further, she managed to get the best academic recommendations in less than a year and interesting job offers are already waiting for her.
Entrepreneur became interested how difficult it was for Tiko to make this decision, what her goals are, and what her plans are in connection with her homeland. Tiko Magradze gave us the answers to these questions herself.
What was the main reason for putting an end to a rather successful career in Georgia and going to study in the USA? How difficult was this decision and what were the challenges?
The answer to the first is the need for continuous development, and a set goal gives me inspiration! At a particular stage of my career and personal development, I clearly saw what was more important than mere practical skills and academic knowledge: the need for a global vision whilst being at the center of events, and the right "networking".
Based on my future plans, I chose the USA as the center of world innovation and the most important starting point for business success. I began looking into universities, their ratings, various benefits, opportunities in the long-term, and, of course, with the relevant background specifically in the field of startups and innovations.
The NYU Stern School of Business, especially its executive MBA for Working Professionals program, is one of the best business schools in the world, with a fairly scrupulous selection of applicants. The main parameters of their selection of candidates combine accumulated experience (at least 12 years), successful projects, an innovative approach, and non-standard thinking.
In addition, it took several stages of exams, interviews and essays - all this quite a long and time-consuming process. However, I believe it was justified to enable one to achieve the status of a global business leader.
I received invitations from several universities, but due to the Dean's rather prestigious partial funding and other important benefits at Stern University (networking, entrepreneurial clubs, an effective career development center, etc.), my choice was NYU.
What was your main reason and inspiration for taking such radical steps in life, changing everything, stepping down from the top of the corporate hierarchy and searching for something new? What motivated you?
A set goal gives me inspiration. As a trained professional, I always try to analyze the market trends in a timely manner- to see what's in demand at a specific moment, the possibilities of supply.
The Covid-19 pandemic once again demonstrated the need for a global vision and extreme management. It also showed us failures that occur in the absence of a strategy and / or a lack of proper and timely identification of risk factors. The greatest value considered an indicator of professional success in my field is the effective and qualified sharing of knowledge and experience.
In 15 years working in multinational companies in different countries (Asia, Europe, the Caucasus region), I have accumulated a lot of practical knowledge and experience in the development of various projects, including startup rehabilitation.
Along with academic education, structuring and further sharing of this knowledge is the essence of business consulting. It is unthinkable to try to develop professionally without personal development. My source of inspiration was also the main value for which people interact with each other - sharing, supporting, and achieving common success.
Tell us about your your experience studying in the USA. How difficult is it? What are the reactions from the lecturers? What is their attitude towards students from Eastern Europe in general, and towards you in particular?
When I decided to study in America, I was ready for a difficult work schedule. I knew that I would need quite a lot of resources and time to adapt to the new environment and integrate into the new society. However, in the beginning, it was still quite difficult to deal with everything effectively: I practically gave up on sleep, I made studying a priority, and I tried my best to gain the knowledge for which I had given everything up- my country, my career, my family, my friends.
Eventually, I reached a new level of stress tolerance, and today I can confidently work remotely in parallel with gaining quality knowledge, creating a network, interacting with friends and classmates, and working on projects that I will soon launch in the US market.
I am the only student from Eastern Europe. I'm very lucky to have amazing classmates. All are high-ranking professionals, representing different fields, and treating the learning process with great responsibility. We are constantly sharing knowledge and experience; creating groups, clubs, and talking about specific cases, problems and projects.
As for the university and the professors, their teaching methodology, quality and approach is completely unique and tailored to a contingent with specific professional experience. This is the mobilization of existing experience and knowledge and the acquisition of knowledge based on completely new information, trends and approaches, something which is priceless in the modern business world.
The principle of the assessment system is important: they have an individual approach to each work and give each of us a personal assessment. It was a great stimulus for me to receive this assessment from one professor, who called my qualities and thinking a "rare gift of nature".
How open is the USA to motivated and eager young people who want to get an education, get a job, and do something worthwhile?
At one of the trainings, I mentioned that the "American dream" does not exist. Later, a friend of mine from the university thanked me for this and told me that she never forgets this phrase, as it helped her work on her own goals in a more realistic and practical way. As a result, she achieved quite a lot of success.
I will say the same thing now - there is no dream. There is a purpose, work, motivation, and none of them require material resources. And if a young person has these three things, the USA is exactly the country in which they will be able to achieve any set goal.
You have also worked in the field of business consulting in Georgia and have experience with startups. How has activity in this field continued since you left for the USA? Tell us about the active projects. How productive and efficient is remote work?
I continue to work remotely with SMEDA - an association of small and medium-sized businesses, part of the STARTA platform. I advise 25 women entrepreneurs on startup business strategy through both training and personal coaching.
I have also been engaged in an innovative project since March of this year, which is quite interesting and large-scale. The project offers a virtually new product for the market and is aimed at a wide range of customers. I am a business consultant for this project, and I work remotely here too, but thanks to the strong team behind the project, my absence on site does not actually cause any delays.
Do you already have offers from different companies in the US?
The NYU Stern School of Business is renowned for its high efficiency in career development, support and exceptional network resources. You will meet graduates of this business school in almost all big and well-known companies, in the highest positions.
I personally communicated with several international companies, and received preliminary offers, even before arriving in New York. However, I will be able to officially start working with my specialty in America only from next year. At this stage, I'm preparing for the next level interviews, and I have regular communication with the career development office. At the same time, I continue working on my own innovative projects, negotiating with potential partners, investors, and startup accelerators.
Do you have any future plans regarding Georgia? Are you considering coming back and applying your knowledge and experience in the local market?
I haven't stopped working in the Georgian market for a single day. I'm open to job opportunities in any country, but the team, the project, and the goal I will serve are very important factors for me in my decision making. And my idea of self-development is precisely that – to be able to share the knowledge and experience I have gained as far as possible with those who need it.