MA International Relations & Diplomacy
For Salome Tsutskuridze the experience of studying at AAU was life-changing. Having previously worked in publishing, an NGO, and the public sector, Salome found her true passion in leading projects. Currently, she is the Head of Project Management at GSN (Georgian Service Network). Salome believes that the confidence, negotiation skills, and critical thinking she acquired at AAU have provided her the ‘roots’ to stand strong and keep growing – personally and professionally.
How did you find out about AAU? What made you decide to study here?
In 2013 I had an educational visit to Strasburg (lectures and seminars at the European Parliament; European Youth Center and the Council of Europe). During this visit, the representative of the Georgian company that organized the trip spoke about AAU and what it’s like studying in Prague. Around this time I was planning to apply for a Master’s program, and during this trip, AAU caught my attention.
I started asking more questions, did further research online, and spoke to other people from Georgia who studied at AAU. I really liked what I heard, and the photos the students posted on social media showed an excellent atmosphere. The idea of planning this big move and living in Prague was very scary for me, as honestly, I was not a strong and independent girl back then. Going abroad alone was a huge challenge for me. However, I risked it, and it was totally worth it!
What classes influenced you the most at AAU?
I would say all my classes gave me an important takeaway and increased my knowledge, but there were some, which gave me important skills that could be used universally, across my whole career- Skills such as presentation and negotiation skills, debating, and diplomatic protocol. All the skills I acquired in these classes I still use on a daily basis. It helps me to communicate with a wide range of people – from business partners to vendors, customers, and so on.
What impression did Prague leave on you?
I loved the city. When you are walking in the streets, it feels like a fairytale. Each way you look there stands some amazing architectural patterns. I will never forget my excitement when I saw a glass bookcase in one park in Prague 6. I remember I took a picture and posted it on my Facebook; I wanted to see the same thing in the streets of Tbilisi, Georgia.
One of the more memorable moments was also riding on trams. You always discover people and the general culture of the country in public transport, and it was amazing to see small elementary school students, coming back from school with big school bags, seating, and reading books on the tram. There were many things to discover in this city, and it left a lifetime impression on me.
What was the biggest turning point in your life?
Believe it or not, the biggest turning point was that I decided to go abroad for my Master’s program. I always say that my life is split in two: the one before coming to study at AAU, and the life since my Master’s degree. The time I spent completing my studies changed me a lot for the better. I became more confident, developed a stronger sense of self, became more independent and, of course, got a diploma that’s so much more than just a piece of paper. At AAU I gained the main skills needed for my future life and career.
What is your biggest accomplishment to date?
Focusing on my career here, I’d say that my biggest accomplishment so far is becoming the Head of the Project Management Department at GSN (Georgian Service Network). It was not an easy thing to do. I attended numerous professional trainings and courses, and I’m still continuing to work on my development. Lifelong learning is tough, but it has lots of benefits and helps in climbing the career ladder.
Tell us about a work experience that you’ll never forget.
Deciding on one is a bit of a tough choice so I will give you my top 3! While I was in Prague, a memorable experience was working with an NGO (Union of Georgian Students in the Czech Republic), and getting to meet and work with real diplomats from Georgia and other countries.
During my internship at the Office of the Minister of Georgia for Diaspora Issues, I got to participate in the “Young Ambassadors of Georgia” project, which took place in 10 different countries, and which hosted 500+ successful professionals, who were great role models.
From my current job, an experience I will not forget is data digitalizing and implementing PBI, CRM, and ERP systems in the company. It was something new, modern, and very important in helping me develop my skills, keep my mind sharp and tackle challenges.
If you could share one lesson you learned, what would it be?
With the experience I have gathered so far, the main lesson I have learned is: Unsolvable situations do not exist.
The lesson came from various challenges I had while living in Prague and from my career, too.
Many times, I thought: “This is it, I can’t deal with this situation anymore, the challenge is impossible to solve, and there’s no way out.” But there’s always something, a small thread that you notice and, step by step, it can help you find the solution, and see your way out. After overcoming one of these challenges, I saw that I could, after all, overcome difficulties, and having a more positive attitude helped me find solutions more quickly in the future. Hence my big lesson- unsolvable situations simply don’t exist, and that positive thinking truly helps in dealing with these challenges in a smarter, faster way.
What is next for you in your career/ life?
As I mentioned earlier, I have found myself in various projects which have allowed me to work in any field, and as a bonus – my job never gets boring! Therefore, I want to continue developing my career in this way. My goal is to gather a network of project managers and set up a company that will help other organizations manage important projects.