Management and Leadership: The new dimensions

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The FINANCIAL — Eurasia Management House LLC, a corporation engaged in cutting edge management and leadership training and project advisory services has launched the Eurasia Business School in Tbilisi last week.


The School is a brain child of Guy de Fontgalland, a Harvard graduate with extensive experience across five continents in banking, finance and development strategy.  Fontgalland worked with commercial banks, advised governments and worked in senior capacities with IFC/World Bank, and the United Nations Development Program. In Georgia, he advises GNIA in Small and Medium Investments as well as the TBC bank on inward deposits and investments while being the head of Eurasia Business School.

Q: To begin with, what made you come to Georgia?

GDF: I have often been asked this question. In fact, I myself ask this question often. I came to Georgia in September 2008 from London to take a first look at what is possible. I was simply fascinated by the country, its warm and highly cultured people, its hospitality and above all, I could see clear opportunities for development here, especially after the War. I also felt that the Government was genuinely making serious efforts with law and order and had a vision of taking Georgia to the next stage.

Q: Did you have any specific plans at the time you came to Georgia for the first time?

GDF: Yes I did. At that time I was Principal Lecturer in a London College and was Director of Entrepreneurship Development Centre London – a global project with the University of London. The plan was to set up the Entrepreneurship Centre. We negotiated with Ilia State University to launch a series of advanced diploma programs in strategic management and leadership and embed an entrepreneurship development program in association with the Alliance Group Holdings – to take development education to the regions in Georgia.

Q: What made you launch the Eurasia Business School?

GDF: First, I am passionate about it and believe in its role in building management and leadership capacities in Georgia. I also understand that there are thousands of unemployed and under-employed graduates in this country and the job openings are limited. However, I have also often heard from employers that while there are number of graduates, picking candidates who do understand the dynamics of management and can perform effectively on the ground is not that simple.  Young managers who have the required body of knowledge and skills sets and have clearly defined core competences are few. There needs to be a well orchestrated strategy to begin to groom these young graduates. I say this from my own experience in Georgia.

See also  Time Shifting 

Q: What are critical inputs from Eurasia Business School?

GDF: Some students think that studying a subject, getting a grade and a certificate is all that is required. Truth is far from it. One may even have a theoretical knowledge of management and corporate leadership. There is plenty of material to read without attending a single class. The most important difference is how best has a student internalised, understood and is able to put in practice the fundamentals of management and leadership. This requires a different treatment, where students must be put through a rigorous process of analysing events and processes, of creating options, of deciding on the best option and implementing a strategy which will, although in constant motion, can shape the future of a corporation. Some say this comes from experience and maturity. I say it comes from developing basic capacities which can mature with experience.

Q: You have worked in some 30 countries and are widely travelled. What is your real view of Georgian workforce and their capacity for excellence?

GDF: In one of my columns to the FINANCIAL mid last year, I spoke of Georgia as an underperforming asset. It is also typical of all emerging markets. It does take time to build, to nurture, to excel. Georgians do have massive talent and skills, but they need to be properly harnessed and put to work. Often, it appears that they may not be aware of the highest standards and key performance indicators required in each category of service. Last night I was in an upmarket restaurant down town. I asked for Saperavi Dry Red ( 2008) which was on the Menu, and I was told that they have run out of stock. This does not speak much for the service industry. It is important to realize that precision and performance in every detail is critical for success. EBS wants to make this approach and philosophy its fundamental contribution.

Q: You have launched the Georgian National Corporate Leadership Program? What does it entail?

GDF: Thank you for asking. Yes we have. This is my dream project. This program is in collaboration with the Georgian National Investment Agency of the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. It is the centre piece of our efforts: to bring in a high level of professionalism into leadership-driven management. Managing corporations in emerging economies, in difficult times, is most challenging and requires men and women who have the knowledge, the skills, the nerves and the visions to pilot corporations toward survival and growth. I work closely with the GNIA and I realize that one of the key ingredients of attracting foreign investments into Georgia is the availability of high level of professionalism and expertise in management .  On a large scale, Georgia does not have it. I teach Strategic Management and Leadership to senior students who are already in the industry here in Georgia. I understand that some of the concepts are new and they are not even remotely familiar with some of the models I teach.

See also  Time Shifting 

Q: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?. Will you still be living and working in Georgia?

GDF: I am an Australian citizen. It is perhaps the best country to be in, if one seeks a high level of comfort in all aspects of life. But I have chosen to be here in Georgia until the mission of building and positioning Eurasia Business School as a Centre of Excellence in the Caucasus region is accomplished. Having been at Harvard, I have a powerful network of Harvard friends in every country. I can access them easily and they will all support this venture.  There is much to be done. I guess I shall be here for some years to come.

Q:  I have seen the fees for EBS programs. They are low. Can you make EBS viable and sustainable?

GDF:  It is important to keep the fees low. I want a greater outreach. I am also talking to donors to pay for training of unemployed graduates. We need to subsidise education and training in Georgia. We can indeed make EBS viable and sustainable as we keep fees low and have a greater outreach.

Q: Last question. What will be the corporate structure of Eurasia Business School?

GDF:  It is a pro-profit venture with a huge social dimension where there will be scholarships, subsidies and all types of assistance to our students. I am about to invite some 20 companies here in Georgia to take token shares in EBS in order that we develop EBS as a business school, run by business. I invite interested companies to come along.



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