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Irakli Iashvili: I Refused to Pursue Communist Party Career and Went into Business

Caucasus Business Week held an exclusive blitz interview with head of the supervisory board of shipping company East Gate Group and founder of winemaking company Vaziani, Irakli Iashvili.

I am an economist by profession. I faced no problems with finding a job place. I graduated the university in Moscow. Then I arrived in Tbilisi and had my first business practice. In 1984, I was an engineer in a textile factory. In that period, a man had to either pursue a political party line or work in the production sector. I gave preference to the production sector. I did not want a party career. This was in the Soviet Period. 

My first salary was about 360 Rubles, out of which 35 Rubles was a base salary and the remaining part was a bonus. The enterprise where I was working was located in the Africa settlement. Therefore, I had to fully spend my earnings on transport.

I have been in the business sector from the very beginning. I was in business even during the Soviet period. Having graduated from university, I launched business activities in Russia and then I started my political life.

I go to the office every morning before 09:30. I stay there till about 3 pm and then go to the gym.

Having got to the job place, I first receive updates about developments in the country and in the company. Our group unites several companies. I receive information from all companies separately. Then I work on new projects in an everyday routine. I am not in the management chain. Therefore, I mainly receive information and give instructions to the staff.

Why did I choose business? I had to either pursue the Communist Party line or work in the production field. I did not want to become a party official and I gave preference to business. I made a very simple choice. In that period, a man had to be either a businessman or a party figure, an artist or a doctor. I preferred to be a businessman because I had no interest in other professions.

I would never work in the medical industry. I have frequently heard from business people that they would never work in the commerce sector. This is a lie, despite their assertions. Everybody has started their business from commerce. Everybody who has made a fortune today, started their activities in commerce in the early 1990’s. After the Soviet Union collapse and after the so-called Perestroika, everybody was engaged in such activities. Later some to them went to the production sector, some of them continued activities in the commerce sector, others went into the finance sector and so on. All of them have started with commerce, including me.

There are several main things in this life. Career occupies its own place, and personal life has its own place. There are various directions that are important in this life and I would not choose one over the other.

I do not think people should be ready to do anything for career promotion. I withdrew from politics because I could not do anything. New Rights political party failed because we could not succeed. If we could, we would be in the government today.

It is not difficult to achieve career promotion and success in Georgia today. Everything depends on our knowledge, experience, skills; the public sphere is absolutely empty. There is space for new ideas, new approaches, and more educated people. It’s difficult to succeed without these, but if you know what to do, then it is easy.

I have to frequently travel. Despite this, I am connected to my homeland, despite its disordered situation. I cannot stay in a foreign land for more than 1 week.

I would not name one favorite dish. I like French cuisine in France, Italian cuisine in Italy and Georgian cuisine in Georgia and so on. I like Asian cuisine very much. I enjoy gastronomy very much.

Favorite sports – I have been following two sports directions for 40 years – skiing and horse riding. I am devoted to these sports. I appreciate several successful athletes in skiing, including French and Swedish athletes.