Spring 2009: Register
Courtesy Levan Vasadze
After coming to Emory by way of Tbilisi, Levan Vasadze 95MBA gives back to Goizueta
By Julia Siân Williams
In the early nineties, Emory was one of the first American universities to connect with the Republic of Georgia after it began to emerge from the shadow of the Soviet years.University leaders set out to build a lasting bridge between the academic communities of Tblisi State University and Emory.
Levan Vasadze 95MBA is one of many Georgians who came to Emory on full scholarship. Since completing his MBA, he has started an endowed scholarship at Goizueta Business School and serves as an active member of Emory’s International Advisory Council.
After holding several senior business positions, including first vice president of Russian business conglomerate Sistema, Vasadze went on to serve as board chair for the Russian Insurance People’s Company (ROSNO).
The father of five and retired professional rugby player is now chair of his own private equity house, Prometheus Capital Partners, which is focused on investments in the countries of the Former Soviet Union (FSU).
How did you decide to attend Emory? I was at Georgetown University in the summer of 1993, training at the Advanced Management Institute for Eastern European Executives, and decided to apply for a full-time MBA at a handful of the best U.S. schools.
How would you describe your Emory experience? Two years of hard work and a wonderful experience—a warm, southern climate and people. Two lifetime family friendships. Emory is something I miss and long for as years pass.
Has your Emory degree had an impact on your career? I was one of the first professionally trained MBAs in a fast-moving emerging market with many business challenges and opportunities. The combination of my local background and a systematic business education allowed me to participate in the value creation process in the FSU.
What are the key differences in American and Former Soviet Union (FSU) practices in your field, and how has your Emory education helped you negotiate those? The laws of physics, gravity, and/or human nature work the same way everywhere. Knowing them and coupling them with a classical business knowledge framework has been very useful to me.
What are the most interesting cultural differences between the FSU and the U.S.? In most of the FSU countries, personal success is not viewed as a measure for one’s life. Adherence and respect toward traditional values, rooted in respective religions of the region, are very important. A family-centered way of life is more common than in the West. Human closeness, less driven by goal-oriented personalities, is omnipresent. A humble character is viewed as a virtue, not as a weakness.
What do you do for enjoyment? I tend not to view my life in separate segments such as work, family, sports, and hobbies. Instead, I’m used to viewing it as a monolith where joys and mishaps are natural throughout my existence.