Professionals who are part of a large organization often see their advancement in the development of the organization, therefore, it is rare for them to leave the corporation and provide their services as an outside consultant. Our respondent is such an exception.
Visa and Forbes Woman Georgia present an interview with Mede Tabatadze within the framework of the joint project, ‘She’s Next’ – she has 12 years of experience in the field of consulting. She decided to develop in this direction when she was an employee of a corporation. Experience has made her think – what can happen if I make decisions by myself? The strategic development of her destiny must have been decided by oneself.
In retrospect, was is the right decision?
From the current point of view, the decision was right and I am satisfied with the result, however, it could have turned out better. Results are always a goal and not just an opinion. What I had in mind was that the company name “InSource” should have been associated with a different service. I think it came true. But the most interesting thing about running a company is making a decision the results of which are shared by others too. In the beginning there was always the question – how should we work? The answer to this question was critically important because I had to be both a strategist and an executive for my small company.
After entering the business world, what were the difficulties you faced due to your active involvement?
At the time “Insource” was created, consulting services (also in HRM) were very new, there was little experience and a small list of consulting companies. This eliminated the possibility for the startup to take into account the experience of others, and at the same time, meant a little competition, accumulating a lot of trial and error. Also, the list of partner companies was small, as the need for consulting services was not very clear in 2011. However, the main difficulty I consider was the lack of access to the necessary information and resources. 9 years ago, the technologies and experience of using it were still small.
With so many resources and enough experience now, anyone can find the information they need and get support. Today the consulting business has changed and developed, as well as competitive. This is due to the synthesis of human knowledge and technologies.
How problematic do you think the issue of gender is in your field? Have you personally been a victim of gender discrimination?
I think today, discrimination based on gender is more or less regulated. Awareness has increased, procedures have been introduced in organizations to protect gender equality. However, different behaviors due to gender differences are still felt. I remember such a thing: there was and I think there is still a stereotype that men think faster and strategically. The phrase “you are as smart as a man” – belonged to smart women as a compliment, sometimes we even liked such praise (I remember, I was happy), but this compliment is discriminatory. Now that we are talking more about gender equality and raising our awareness of discrimination, such “compliments” have diminished.
The consulting business, around the world, is probably undergoing the same changes as any other field. However, there is an imbalance in favor of women in human resource management- there are more women than men in this field.
What is the biggest problem as to why the business world is not developing at a proper pace in Georgia?
Education. And, I would add that education is not just a diploma. I mean skills such as critical thinking (for different perspectives), curiosity (the more often the question is “why?” – the more the ability to reason and draw conclusions), constant development (thinking of constant improvement) and risk-taking skills (creating and not being afraid that something bad might happen).
Now is the time for all kinds of knowledge or experience to be called into question, but our skills, knowledge and methods of acquiring knowledge have been missed by the needs of the 21st century, we cannot blame it only on the pandemic. There are many challenges, systems are broken, there are dogmas too and our main problem, I still think, is education deficit. What it takes to start a business today is different thinking, which does not come without developing critical thinking, interest and individual mentality.
What advice would you give to the novice entrepreneurs who are just entering the Georgian business world?
First, I think it is necessary to have a counselor, a coach who they turn to get advice from. This practice is quite common in the western market, the leaders of startups and giant companies have coaches, often even the CEOs of competing companies.
Second, it takes a lot of patience to start something. I have also had experience and heard from others that when you have a startup, you try a lot to not disappear from the market soon and have a profit. Such behavior can only be harmful – entrepreneurs deviate from their primary goal and the process takes away their resources and energy. When you start, you need to know exactly what you are starting.
What specific advice would you give to female professionals who want to pursue a career in consulting?
Knowledge of news in the field or industry, competitors, potential clients and the economy and diversification of professional knowledge. A consulting business leader needs knowledge, experience and trust from clients to succeed.
How do you envision a future woman in this field? What additional challenges can a pandemic and an unpredictable ecosystem bring?
The challenge of consulting business is data accumulation or data learning. Data learning is a priority for other industries and is now demanded more here too. The pioneer already exists – McKinsey & Company, which uses artificial intelligence for data learning purposes. Today everything is so vague that possibly the most important thing a consulting business is required to have is the ability to collect data. More information, more data will enhance our knowledge.
Future personal plans – general goal, what are you going to do, what are you fighting and working for, where will you be in a few years?
In a few years, I will be in the consulting business, albeit with good technological support. Studying people’s behavior and behavioral economics in general are very interesting – this and academic activity is my future.