1. What led you to study public policy at CEU?
I was drawn to study public policy at CEU for a number of reasons. As a citizen of Georgia, I grew up during a time of uncertainty and change. Having observed the process of building governmental institutions and regulatory systems following the collapse of the Soviet Union, I was interested in investigating ways in which public policy questions could be analyzed and resolved. I was also delighted to find faculty who were familiar with the issues impacting my region and at the same time diverse enough to attract students from across the globe. I studied with people from countries including Azerbaijan, Italy, Kenya, Peru, Romania, and the United States. It was one of the most fascinating experiences of my life. Finally, I was looking for a program rich with practical courses, which the MA in Public Policy both promised and delivered. I especially remember "Corruption and Corruption Control," just one of many practical, thought-provoking, and informative courses.
2. What do you remember most about your time at CEU?
Most of us in the public policy group encountered challenges in adjusting to a new city. CEU and especially our public policy staff were very helpful, which made us feel at home at the university. I also vividly remember CEU's amazing location, with a view of St. Stephen's Basilica and just a two-minute walk from the Danube.
3. What have you been engaged in professionally since graduating from CEU?
Since 2011, I have been a member of the gender team of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD). In my capacity as a principal gender adviser, I support EBRD banking teams to mainstream gender in investments by developing and managing projects in the banking sectors of the bank's countries of operations. Between 2008 and 2010, prior to taking on this role, I served as an associate project officer at the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), where I was part of a team coordinating a capacity-building project to integrate gender into the operations of the national statistical offices of a number of UNECE member countries. Between working at UNECE and EBRD, I took a year-long break to study social policy and development at the London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE) in London.
4. How have your policy studies at CEU contributed to your career?
CEU contributed hugely to who I am today and added very important dimensions to my career preparation. It taught me to think critically, gave me confidence for public speaking, enhanced my writing skills, and exposed me to a diverse group of students and professors. My time at CEU led to concrete life changes. After finishing my degree at CEU, I got my first job outside Georgia, in an international organization, which had been my aspiration for years.
5. Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I constantly look for opportunities to develop my skills, take on interesting projects, and work with people I can learn from while at the same time building my career. This has guided my decisions about job moves for the last ten years. It is difficult to see exactly where I will be in five years, given the fast-changing job market and potential changes in my personal circumstances, but I intend to keep looking for opportunities to learn and grow.
6. Do you have any advice for current students?
CEU gave me the best student experience and enabled me to make things happen. However, it took a lot of hard work and persistence to complete my degree. At the risk of sounding banal, my advice for current students is: work hard, be persistent, do not give up, and talk to people. This will eventually lead you to the job you are looking for. In even more practical terms, I'd advise students to start applying for jobs as early as possible. Recruitment cycles in some organizations are very long (up to one year in some cases). You need to start your job search almost at the same time as you begin your studies. Make sure you approach the process with patience, because it will take effort and time.
7. What is your favorite thing to do in Budapest?
One of my favorite things to do in Budapest was to walk from St. Stephen's Basilica to Chain Bridge and enjoy the breathtaking views. This never got boring!