HR hub: Tell us how it all began
It all began in 2012, I joined BAT as a Personal Assistant to Leadership Team/Records Manager Caucasus. I had travelled quite a lot before for education and work and it felt very good to be in international environment again. Quickly after that I moved as HR Executive first covering a role in Azerbaijan, based in Baku, later coming back to Tbilisi. After that I moved to Romania, Bucharest and took a global role managing People & Organizational Analytics. Several months ago I was offered a role of Global Diversity & Inclusion Manager based in our headquarters so now I’m based in our London office.
HR hub: What is your secret to pushing through your hard times?
For me personally, knowledge is strength, doesn’t matter if I’m doing something for the first time or if I have tight deadlines or if I deal with difficult stakeholders, I gather as much information as I need to become comfortable with the case, educate myself and those around me.
HR hub: What have been the highlights of your time with the company?
I can think of many. My very first business trip to Dubai two weeks after joining the company or the moment I found out I was going to manage a global team located in Romania, Costa Rica and Malaysia. A lot of different projects come to mind but the biggest highlight would be the realization of how likeminded people from BAT are and being able to connect with everyone regardless the country, age, background.
HR hub: What have been the main career learnings for you?
Ask questions, doesn’t matter how senseless they might sound to you. Set a goal and work towards your goal, communicate it with your manager or someone you think who might influence it, nobody will guess what your aspirations are if you don’t communicate them clearly.
HR hub: Tell us how it all began
I joined BAT as a mid-career professional in July 2007. My first position was Procurement Manager for Caucasus. Believe it or not, back then we didn’t have a procurement policy in our cluster and I had a hard time explaining to fellow colleagues what my job involved. I travelled extensively between Georgia, Azerbaijan and Armenia establishing a procurement function in all three countries and creating a pool of prequalified suppliers. Little did I know what was coming.
In 2009 I was offered a position of a Procurement Account Manager for the Middle East – based in Dubai, UAE. The offer was too good to turn down, I accepted it and this is how “it all began”.
Later in 2012 I was promoted to a position of Procurement Business Manager for the Middle East, looking after twelve countries of the Arab world and Iran. In 2013 I was offered a position in Regional Procurement based in UK. Four years in Middle East seemed enough and I relocated again, this time to a less sunny, but much older and mature Great Britain. After a year at the new role, we went through a major reorganization AKA project “Mega” and as a result, I arrived at my current position of Global Category Manager for Facilities Management and Corporate Real Estate.
HR hub: How does your career choice reflect to your personal life?
I believe all choices we make reflect on who we are and how we live. My career choice has made a profound impact on my life and the lives of my family members. It has changed two of my younger children forever from being born and raised in Georgia in a quite traditional family into international citizens of the world. My eldest son has decided to return to Georgia after graduating school in Dubai and continued his higher education in Tbilisi. My wife and I have never thought that we would be living away from home for such a long time, but it’s been nine years already and still counting. The most difficult part is being away from extended family – parents, siblings and closest friends. Nothing in this world can replace them and no matter how much time passes it never gets easy, nostalgia just grows stronger each day. I love my beautiful Georgia and can’t wait to return for good.
HR hub: What most excites you about your work so far with the company?
I’ve always said this and will repeat myself in stating that BAT is truly a great company to work for. Although I’ve worked with other international organizations prior to joining the company, nothing comes close to the experience, learning and exposure I’ve had so far with BAT. It’s safe to say I’ve travelled the world, been in more than 50 countries so far (not all on business travel, but still a fair share), met some amazing people, became much more tolerant and open minded than I was while living in Georgia, but above all, I never stopped learning and growing. That’s what I find most exciting about my work. I’m a part of a truly global organization and in my role the work just never gets boring. There’s so much happening in the world, it never seizes to amaze me how much one can learn and how endless this process can be.
HR hub: What does international career mean to you?
First and foremost, it’s a lifechanging decision which must not be taken lightly and without due deliberation. It’s a wonderful opportunity to stretch one’s abilities unimaginably and challenge oneself to the extreme. Some may find it very beneficial and suitable to their needs, where others might think of it as an utterly unpleasant and depressing experience. I myself belong to the first group and find it difficult to imagine where would I be now had I not followed this path. It’s a lifestyle, which has its pros and cons as probably everything else in this world.
HR hub: How do you relax away from work?
My favorite pastime is being around family and friends whenever possible. Listening to music, cooking traditional Georgian dishes and drinking Georgian wine, but in present day and age unfortunately this becomes more and more difficult, as everyone gets busier than ever. My daily relaxation is sports. As a former water polo player, I prefer water sports, but also love Skiing and extreme sports. Here in the UK I ride my mountain bike through beautiful landscapes of local hills and forests and when weather is not so friendly I turn to indoor gym.