The FINANCIAL — The Georgian-American University (GAU) Schools of Business and Law provide business and legal education to prepare Georgian and international students for the growing market economy and developing rule of law in Georgia and the Caucasus region.
To meet the needs of all students, GAU also provides part-time and full-time programmes for both day and evening students. GAU’s language of instruction is mainly English, although there are certain courses, such as Georgian Language and Georgian Law that are taught in Georgian.
“GAU is the only true western-style university with operations and academic curricula desired by international and western markets”, Interview with Michael Cowgill, President of GAU.
“Most of GAU’s Georgian students will not go abroad when starting their careers and will stay with the Georgian market but they must also be ready for the international market coming to Georgia,” GAU graduates need to competitive on the international market
“The students here are not competing with each other. They are competing with the students in India, Germany, the UK or U.S., students everywhere. I tell my students to think of all the other really dedicated students in other parts of the world. We need world competitive students in Georgia even if just to work with all the foreign companies entering here,” claimed Cowgill.
GAU participated in job fairs organized by the U.S. embassy, USAID and other international organizations. GAU has a career centre and the graduates who are considered for certain positions must meet the demands and level of competence that a companies need.
Additional Education Reforms
Cowgill has been living in Georgia for about ten years. He first came to the country in the late 90s and was glad to be present and a part of all the educational reforms of the Georgian education system that have happened since.
“What I think is that we need more reforms in the schools themselves. I don’t know whether children have to study 11 or 12 years, but the fact is that the students who are coming to the university from school are too young compared with other parts of the world,” said Cowgill.
As he noted, children here do not prepare for universities as they do in Europe and the U.S. In his opinion Georgia needs more reforms in schools, to get students ready for further educational steps.
“I have the feeling that we have to spend at least one or two years getting them up to the appropriate level for entering university. Parents must also be more active in their children’s education. We have discussed many times the possibility of: not a workshop for students, not a workshop for lecturers, but a workshop for parents.”
August Conflict Impact on GAU Programs
In regards to situations that are difficult to prevent such as force majeure situations. “Crisis management in its classical science is always a part of a marketing (public relations) type. It’s hard to talk about preventing acts beforehand, as each situation is individual considerably depending on the case,” declared Cowgill.
In his words, every subject must include risk management. At this time however there have been no changes made in the studying program of the university.
“I’m waiting for what will happen in the future. The situation after August’s events has changed in a very interesting way but the changes are not yet over. For example, in the real estate sector, we’ll see further slowdown. In January we are planning to start real estate courses, and I don’t think that the present events will influence our curriculum.”
US-Georgian economic ties deepened by bilateral investments
Cowgill assumes, in general, that marketing is the least understood discipline in Georgia. After the Russian embargo on Georgian wine we started thinking about what could be a good selling point of Georgian wine. One thing was clear that Georgia faced price problems at international market level. I think one thing that Georgians are not doing very well is understanding what kind of market it is that they are entering,” declared Cowgill.
What we have to know, as Cowgill says, is what people are willing to pay, what do they really want? I think that we have a certain impression, that: “Our wine is good so you must pay for it and that’s that”. That’s a market issue; to research a target market of potential buyers. Georgian wines don’t have a global reputation.
“The main thing is to understand what your customer’s priorities are, what kind of a wine they want according to taste, quality and of course, price. The promotion of goods is most important. You must taste it. Try the wine. And if it satisfies you with its taste, quality and price, then the next time you’re in a shop, you’ll choose it.”
During the recent round table of AmCham one of the most interesting questions discussed was if Georgian products do not have any quality problems in entering international markets. What is the problem? “The main problem is the lack of logistic skills which is why GAU is also adding Logistics School in 2009.
Skills required to succeed in the 21st century
As Cowgill stated, in the business sector it’s flexibility and communication. “Look at the global financial crisis and the way to survive is to be flexible and be able too communicate”
Georgia needs to focus more on international trade, with more international students. “When you go abroad a different culture and mentality meets you and you must be ready to join them.”
Visit Georgian American University:
Address: Chavchavadze Ave 17.
Tel: 91 50 03 / 91 50 04
On the web: www.gau.ge
Partnered with The FINANCIAL
Written By Madona Gasanova