The FINANCIAL -- Geocell, one of the largest mobile communication providers in Georgia, has won the most influential business award Golden Brand for three nominations - Mobile Communication, Innovator Brand of 2014, and Social Responsibility - Preserving Cultural Heritage.
Pawel Smalinski, CEO of Geocell, told The FINANCIAL that the customer is what motivates the company to stay on top and be their number one choice.
“In this fast-paced world we stay relevant and highly responsive to growing customer demands. We constantly listen to them, granting them control and influence over our products and services. We need each other and we make each other better. We dare to be innovative and I believe this is the direction which we will continue our journey in,” he said.
“Therefore, I am glad to have the honour of being granted the Golden Brand award for the nomination - Innovator of 2014. We intend to do more in this direction this year as well. Our most recent initiative is the creation of the Innovation Laboratory from Geocell - GeoLab. This is a place for creating mobile and web applications. We are living in the digital era, where mobile and web applications are our future. The idea of GeoLab is to offer the young generation a profession of the future,” said Pawel Smalinski.
The Mobile and Web Application Laboratory GeoLab has just opened in Georgia’s capital Tbilisi. GeoLab is a space which is open 24/7 to work on a variety of interesting and innovative projects. It provides its students with an opportunity to create business-oriented services, product prototypes, and give release to their own creative ideas and technical skills. GeoLab facilitates obtaining the necessary knowledge and becoming a professional in one out of five different fields, which students choose themselves. These fields are: 3D design, graphical design, programming and coding, electronic platforms, and management of IT projects.
“This project is very important from a social responsibility perspective as well,” said Smalinski. “The company took into consideration that there are lots of young talented people who can develop their knowledge and skills in this direction, and have great potential for creating valuable future products. However, not all of them have the opportunity to get to the Lab due to different reasons,” he added.
“Geocell will be supporting the best students within its social responsibility initiative and will give them free places during each course of study. What we consider very important is promoting an inclusive environment here. At GeoLab we will also be giving equal opportunity to persons with disabilities. There is no limit to people’s abilities and we believe that this will be a place for everyone to develop skills and create amazing things. We’ll also be actively supporting the empowerment of women in our Lab. In our contemporary world we need to drive and inspire female leadership within the ICT industry as well,” Smalinski said.
The project was created on the basis of a grant competition initiated by the Georgian Agency of Innovation and Technology. GeoLab is a joint project of Geocell, LeavingStone (mobile advertising and development company - successful startup), Georgian-American University, and the Innovation and Technology Agency of Georgia.
GeoLab, being part of the network of Georgian Innovation Laboratories (iLab), has strong support from the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia. All the iLabs act under a common charter and consequently support the creation of an innovation ecosystem and startup companies.
Vice Prime Minister of Georgia Giorgi Kvirikashvili considers business involvement in these kinds of initiatives to be very important, and he believes that GeoLab will become the place of origin for many extremely important startup companies.
Ivane Machavariani, B2C Director of Geocell, said that through Innovation Laboratory - GeoLab Geocell sees great potential for providing experienced and skilled specialists, who will be employed by local companies.
“The knowledge acquired here will be practical and business-oriented. It needs to be outlined that in terms of the creation of mobile applications, Georgia has great potential. The past events made it clear that there are plenty of startup companies succeeding in this field. It is also a fact that there is a high demand for qualified and high profile professionals in the country,” Machavariani said.
The students in Geocell Laboratory will have tutors from the business sector, which will be an extra benefit for them. At the end of the course there will be final projects done, containing both business and social impact.
The preliminary stage before going to GeoLab is a three-month course, so-called ‘Academy’, which is based in Georgian-American University. Academy will give students all the necessary technical skills and knowledge in order to be prepared to work on different innovative and revolutionary projects in GeoLab. As a result, there will be 280 students every year given the opportunity to acquire “the profession of the future”.
One more nomination for which Geocell received a Golden Brand award is Social Responsibility - Preserving Cultural Heritage (“Digital Photo Narrative” - the joint project of Geocell and The National Parliamentary Library of Georgia).
Geocell initiated this project together with the Georgian Parliamentary National Library. The aim of this project was collecting unique photos from families all over Georgia and converting them into digital versions for further archiving in the Library.
By this initiative, Geocell together with the National Library created a fund of valuable information conveyed in old photos, postcards and other documents, being part of people’s history, as well as the history of the whole country.
“Digital Photo Narrative” will keep memories from the past century in one big photo album with all the details and moments from people’s lives at the time. It records the story of our recent past and saves it for future generations with the help of today’s modern technologies.
“I’m especially proud of being awarded by Golden Brand for our CSR activities. I think it is very important that business should contribute to society and I am also proud of my team, which actually deserved this prize,” said Pawel Smalinski.
“One of the most important engines for us, as a new generation telco, is our employees - the best and most valuable assets of the company. The high professionalism and passionate, devoted attitude of the whole staff is what takes our company to the next level towards our purpose - bringing the world closer, on the customer’s terms,” he added.