You are currently working as an Agile Coach at TBC Pay. How did you get there? Did you start this job right after GLOCAL?
I applied to GLOCAL in 2019, straight after finishing my undergrad. I didn’t have a clear career plan at the time, but I had several interests I wanted to pursue, including global economic history, creative industries, and urban studies. I chose GLOCAL because Pathway A offered me a unique opportunity to explore them all. During those two years, my idea of what I wanted to do after the program was always changing. I considered various career paths, including consulting, fintech, and pursuing a PhD. Eventually, I decided I would do my best to finish the program first and figure out the next steps afterward.
Several factors were decisive in how I ended up working at my current position: first, I wanted to go back to my home country, Georgia, at least for a while; second, I wanted to try out working in the corporate environment and see if I liked it; and finally, I was eager to learn more about software development while at the same time having a more human-centric job.
Three months after completing my thesis, I found an entry-level traineeship as a Scrum Master at Georgia’s first neobank, where I spent a few months. Shortly before getting a full-time position, I had another offer from the largest payments company in Georgia and I decided to switch. My current company gave me more freedom and responsibility, and it was really important for my professional development. In a nutshell, I was able to grow quickly and gain a lot of practical skills in a limited amount of time, as in both companies I had a chance to observe and learn from more experienced people.
Did you already know that you were interested in these fields during your GLOCAL studies?
I became more interested in fintech during GLOCAL as I used various neobanks, such as Revolut and N26, while living in Europe. I also researched the industry through our core courses, such as Companies in Emerging Sectors, which we were taught in Barcelona. Several GLOCAL alumni were already working in fintech, so I learned a bit from their experiences as well. Regarding my role, I learned about it while reading and researching on my own and also from my Georgian friends who were working in similar positions.
What exactly are you doing at your current job? What is an Agile Coach?
To put it simply, ‘agile’ is a way of working — it is a combination of principles, techniques and approaches to create customer-centric software products and deliver them quickly (it should be noted that agile methods are frequently used outside the technology domain as well). Scrum, on the other hand, is one of the most popular agile frameworks. It encourages working as small self-managing teams, getting frequent feedback from the users to improve the product, unyielding focus on delivering value, and open communication. A Scrum team usually consists of Developers (people who are committed to creating different aspects of the software product), a Product Owner (a person who is accountable for maximizing the business value of the product), and a Scrum Master (a person who is accountable for the entire process, and makes sure that Scrum is properly understood both within the team andorganization).
An Agile Coach typically works with more teams than a Scrum Master and enjoys more autonomy to try out different frameworks and strategies. I am also working towards the improvement of overall organizational processes and maintaining a healthy workplace culture.
How are the topics you are working with connected with GLOCAL?
Even though fintech and software products were not my primary concentration during GLOCAL (for example, I did my consultancy project for a quantum computing startup in Barcelona and my thesis explored cultural-cognitive capitalism and post-industrial cities), I still managed to learn a lot about the industry in the global sense. I started to understand a local, Georgian context through my working experience. Moreover, GLOCAL helped me develop and foster the skills that I use at work on a daily basis: emotional intelligence, strategic thinking, the ability to see the big picture, as well as speaking, facilitation, and writing skills.
What skills and experience are valued in candidates applying to work in the Fintech industry?
Working in fintech usually requires a lot of specific knowledge; therefore, it is not always easy to find an entry-level job here. However, it is one of the most popular sectors among GLOCAL graduates. I think it really depends on the role you are applying for and in which country. Most of the Georgian fintech companies, for example, have recently started using agile frameworks, so they actively hire Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches to help them with this process. This might not be the case everywhere. Furthermore, some companies prefer to hire Agile Coaches who are already experienced or have a background in computer science.
Fintech is a very large industry. I personally work in payments, but fintech entails many other areas, like investment, banking services, insurance, trading, etc. There are several well-established players in the global scene, but also a lot of local startups and smaller initiatives. In any case, however, you will need to demonstrate your interest in modern technologies. Depending on your company and role, you might encounter different aspects of software development, database management, or even machine learning. As an Agile Coach, it is also really important to showcase your soft skills, emotional maturity, and mentoring abilities.
Do you have any tips for current GLOCAL students for their job search after GLOCAL?
I would say that you should have a rough idea of what you want to do after GLOCAL before you start the program. For example, you might decide early on that you want to pursue an academic career afterward, or you might know that you want to work in tech. Then use those two years to clarify that vision and connect with people who can help you along the way. Use each assignment and project to explore your interests, learn new skills, and build a portfolio. A thesis, in particular, is one of the best ways to research the topic or industry in which you want to work in the future. Always ask yourself and reflect on why you are studying what you are studying and how you want to use that knowledge. In general, be honest with yourself about what you want and need and act accordingly.
The actual job hunt itself can be very stressful, especially if you are doing it in a foreign country and you are under a lot of pressure to get the work permit, find accommodation, and so on. Always try to establish connections, either through LinkedIn or networking events, with people who already work in your field. Do not over stress about it, but the earlier you start, the better, especially if you know where you prefer to live after the program. Recent graduates can also use our Linkedin group to connect with other GLOCAL alumni and ask for advice.
Be persistent with your applications, and be okay with the fact that you might get a lot of rejections. Based on what we know from the alumni of the first three cohorts, most people get a job after GLOCAL quite soon — usually in the first six months after handing in the thesis. That should be very encouraging for current students. In addition, remember that the first job you get after graduation does not have to be your ideal job. It can also serve as a stepping stone towards a better one. Finally, be willing to learn, unlearn, and relearn things based on the current circumstances; the learning journey never ends, not even after finishing a Master’s program.
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