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Apr 21, 2016 2016-04 Alumni Finance

Giorgi Kvirikashvili: Homecoming for the Prime Minister of Georgia

Giorgi Kvirikashvili (right) as Prime Minister, with Ambassador Ian Kelly (left). Kelly had gifted Kvirikashvili with a mug and hat from his alma mater. Giorgi Kvirikashvili (right) as Prime Minister, with Ambassador Ian Kelly (left). Kelly had gifted Kvirikashvili with a mug and hat from his alma mater. On April 27, the Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili, visited campus to give a public lecture. It’s an honor for the leader of another country to visit the university – but for Kvirikashvili, it’s also a homecoming. He earned a master’s degree in finance from the College of Business in 1998. Twelve years before being elected to the highest office in his country, Kvirikashvili was making a name for himself here in the US. He came to the University of Illinois as a Muskie scholar to pursue his master’s degree with a specialization in international finance. The Muskie scholarship awarded him the opportunity to study abroad and gain more experience with other cultures – something that has served him well in his career. The College wrote a short article about him as student in the MSF program back in 1997. At the time, Georgia was beginning to thrive again after the collapse of the Soviet Union. It had just experienced a civil war, followed by the largest growth rate of all former Soviet countries. Kvirikashvili had risen to the position of vice president at Eximbank, the largest bank in Georgia, when he was accepted into the MSF program. Coming to the US meant leaving his wife and three young children behind for a year – not an easy sacrifice. George Kvirikashvili Kvirikashvili as a student in the MSF program in 1997 The experiences he gained made the hardship worthwhile. "I have made friends from all over the world – Southeast Asia, Latin America," he observed in the 1997 article. "When I have to do business I will be able to pick up the phone and call them. Most of the people in my program already have a lot of working experience. I like the quality of the study – especially in finance and accounting. Statistics has been extremely good. My advisor, Professor Cannaday, has been very helpful." After his graduation in 1998, Kvirikashvili continued to serve his country. In 1999 he became a member of the Georgian Parliament. He also served as a CEO at Cartu Bank and Principal at Lenzie Fisher Hendry LLC. He has also held positions at First Commercial Bank, United Georgian Bank, and Trade Invest Bank. Prior to his election as Prime Minister in 2015, he was the Vice Prime Minister (2013-15), Foreign Minister (2015), and Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development (2012-15). He also holds undergraduate degrees in economics and medicine. As Prime Minister, he is aiming to modernize Georgia’s economy and integrate the country more completely into the European and Euro-Atlantic economic and security structures. In order to foster greater development and encourage broad-based economic growth, Kvirikashvili is enacting a four-point reform plan focused on enhancing the business environment, reforming the educational system, developing regional infrastructure, and promoting good governance. Click here for the university's announcement about Kvirikashvili's speech on campus. Click here for the Georgian Agenda's article about the visit