Georgios Panagopoulos, Jens Wulf-Andersen, Mahima Agarwalla, Maggie Li, Ana Gvalia, April Goulding, Emmanuel Nwakanma.

Ana Gvalia: Ski trip to Georgia with my MFin classmates

22 January 2024

The article at a glance

In this blog post, current student Ana Gvalia highlights the importance of being part of a close-knit cohort on the Cambridge Master of Finance (MFin) programme. The programme’s diverse student body means that students experience different cultures first-hand. Ana recently travelled to her home country of Georgia with some of her MFin classmates and shares the special experience in this post.

Somewhere between our final exams of Michaelmas Term and the start of the Equity Research Projects, we take off for my homeland, Georgia. Our group truly represents the diversity that Cambridge stands for: 7 nationalities, equal gender distribution (not counting myself), and careers ranging from audit to private equity, and everything in between.

We have a busy itinerary ahead, starting with a transfer in Istanbul, then landing in Tbilisi and driving up to Gudauri to enjoy the breath-taking views over the Caucasian mountains, before skiing down the slopes. After a long day of travelling, we sit around the dinner table enjoying a tradition that Georgia is famous for – toast making – and decide that at one point during the trip, everyone needs to make a toast.

Learning new skills and sharing ideas

After savouring Georgian dishes and traditions in the capital of Tbilisi, we pack for the mountains. The road is steep, and the journey is long, but it’s worth the extra effort. The next day, at the crack of dawn, everybody is enjoying breakfast in anticipation of the long day of skiing and, of course, après skiing! Our group is made up of a range of experience; some are avid skiers, some have decided that there is no better day to learn to ski than today, some have just seen the snow, and some, like me, are more of sitting-by-the-fireplace skiers than black-slope skiers.

We make a tradition of sharing our days with each evening over dinner. We conclude our days with conversations about people, companies and markets. After all, sharing ideas and learning new things is all what Cambridge is about.

Clockwise from top left: Georgios Panagopoulos, Jens Wulf-Andersen, Mahima Agarwalla, Maggie Li, April Goulding, Ana Gvalia and Emmanuel Nwakanma, (MFin 2023)
MFin students during an evening out.

You’re never far from a friend of Cambridge

No trip is ever complete without a happy coincidence. While sitting at breakfast in our identical “Georgia Ski Trip” hoodies, proudly displaying the Cambridge logo on the back, we are stopped by a friend of Cambridge Judge Business School. He asks if he can take a photo of us to send to the Dean. We are proud to represent Cambridge Judge, so we happily oblige. It’s true that you can find a friend of Cambridge in the most unexpected places – even in the little town of Gudauri in the countryside of Georgia!

We make our way back to Tbilisi and I discuss the highlights from our trip with my fellow MFin classmates. “Sunrise over the Caucasus, snow-covered landscapes… 5 days of beauty, places and people” says Mahima.

As we say our goodbyes, we reflect on the friendships and close bonds we have formed, and our excitement to return to Cambridge. We are already starting to plan the next trip: maybe Denmark, or China…

Visiting Georgia was such a highlight to the end of our Michaelmas term in Cambridge. Having the chance to unwind after exams and learn about the history and culture of Tbilisi. I couldn’t have asked for better companions than my closest friends from the MFin.

April Goulding, MFin 2023
MFin Students in a café.
Ana Gvalia.

About the blog author

Ana joined the Cambridge MFin with over 5 years of private equity experience in both buy-side and sell-side. Prior to joining the programme Ana led the largest transaction in Georgia (to date) while working at Georgia Capital.

She holds a bachelors degree in Finance and Entrepreneurship from Northeastern University and is also is also one of the MFin Women in Finance scholars. After completing her MFin, Ana intends to continue her career at a private equity firm in London specialising in infrastructure and renewable energy assets.

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