The FINANCIAL -- KSB has increased its credit portfolio by 22% during recent year. Meanwhile, deposits have grown by 32%. The Bank is currently in the process of switching to a new strategy. Managerial changes within the Bank have brought Thea Lortkipanidze to the position of General Director. Lortkipanidze is the only female executive in the Georgian banking sector. Doubling the Bank’s market share is but one of her ambitious plans for the future.
“It has been quite an interesting and significant year for KSB. Managerial as well as structural changes have been implemented. The working process is overly active. The new strategy of the Bank is in the process of completion. We have specific prioritized directions, and we will be offering a new model and diversified sorts of products to our customers from 2015,” Thea Lortkipanidze, General Director at KSB, told The FINANCIAL.
Business crediting has been one of the most prioritized directions for KSB. And it will remain a strategic direction during the upcoming year. According to Lortkipanidze, offering maximum comfort and comprehensive financial services for businesses is what the Bank is focused on.
Lortkipanidze is a mother of three. The ESM alumna also graduated from the Banking School of the American Banking Association. Her work experience is mostly related to the banking sector. Initially she worked as a cashier, however she later went on to work as a credit expert and risk manager. For a time Lortkipanidze was the director of a leasing company. Later she was promoted to the position of Deputy Director General and Director of Risk Management at TBC Bank.
Lortkipanidze considers her current position to be a great honour. “It is both a great challenge and a great responsibility at the same time,” she said.
There are several tasks that Lortkipanidze would like to implement while in power. “We have set very important goals and objectives. If we express it in figures, I would like to at least double our market share. In addition, we would like to offer a new standard of service to Georgian businesses. We believe that this new model will be useful for our customers and gain huge success.”
Women are quite active on the Georgian labour market. However, despite this it is still rare to find an executive in heels. Lortkipanidze explains the problem as being down to widespread stereotypes, as “under very competitive conditions, an aggressive and authoritarian style of management is considered the most desirable. And this is mainly characteristic of males, while women are characterized as being more democratic.”
She disagrees with that though. “Besides the great importance of the leader, the long-term success of a business is determined by the whole team that stand behind the business. The main function of the leader is the proper selection of a team. I think that Georgian women are also limiting themselves with this stereotype. They are less ambitious. They often assume mid-level managerial positions and are satisfied with those. However, the qualities and features of an individual are more important than their gender,” said Lortkipanidze.
She distinguished some personal features that have helped her to move ahead on the career ladder. “In general, I always have a positive attitude towards people and events. When you are positive towardsyour environment, it is inclined to be positive back to you. In any position that I have held in my work, I have tried to devote my whole energy to it and not simply follow it formally. People define themselves, whether their work is interesting or not. It is always possible to find something interesting, even in very routine work that can help one with their self-development.”
“Perhaps luck was also on my side, as I was in a place where I had the opportunity for rapid growth,” she added.
KSB is one of the first investment projects of Dhabi Group in Georgia. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan holds 45% of Dhabi Group’s shares. He also heads the United Arab Emirates Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Social Development. Dhabi Group incorporates diversified business directions: tourism, construction, real estate, development, production, offshore wells, banking and financial services.
“On behalf of its international investment experience the Group is expanding its shares on developing and emerging markets. Its strong financial resources and management experience is a key factor of its success,” said Lortkipanidze.
“Therefore, the stability and reputation of a company operating on their behalf is very important for the Group. Their desire to engage in responsible banking in Georgia defines our strategy. Thus, calculating not only our financial results but also those of our customers, which they will receive by cooperation with our bank, is very important for us. Obviously we feel this great sense of responsibility and are putting maximum effort into achieving this goal,” she said.
According to Lortkipanidze, the Bank’s shareholders have long-term interests in Georgia. “Beside KSB they are engaged in the hotel construction business. During the meeting of His Excellency and the Georgian PM, the Sheikh expressed the initiative to expand his investment shares in Georgia.”
A representative of the analytical department of Dhabi Group visits KSB monthly for closer observation of their work. One of their representatives is a member of the Bank’s management team. So the Bank regularly cooperates with its Arab shareholders both remotely and on-site.
New mobile and online applications are other upcoming services that KSB will soon be offering to its customers.
“Frequent customers of electronic services are actively switched to the online system. However, there is still a big number of users who are far from using mobile and online banking. Of course it is a very interesting direction for our bank. We will soon be offering renovated applications of mobile and online banking to our customers. We hope as a result that we will manage to deliver quicker and more comfortable services to our customers both with this and other services that are to come,” Lortkipanidze told The FINANCIAL.