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February 24, 2022

Optimising for Success, with Tengo Meskhi

He's Head of Growth at $3M backed tech startup, Pensight; ex-McKinsey superstar; and Forbes 30 under 30 title holder. Meet Tengiz Meskhi, he's only 27.

Navigating the path

In the 21st Century, it would seem there are countless roads to success. Looking back, we see a clear set of decisions that point us exactly to this place in time — yet still, the future remains purely hypothetical.

Knowing which path we’re best suited to navigate; how to best equip ourselves; and where dead ends will occur can be difficult to anticipate, even for the most adept statistician. So, how should we approach these seemingly impossible decisions?

In our second episode of Tevent Talks, we endeavoured to uncover just that, with yet another inspiring young professional — Tengo Meskhi. After graduating from Cambridge with a degree in Engineering, Tengo began his career at McKinsey & Company (the oldest and largest of the “Big Three” management consultancies).

His professional path took him back to his Georgian roots, with a successful stint as deputy CIO (Chief Information Officer) at the Bank of Georgia — right through to his current position of Head of Growth at Pensight.

We delved into Tengo’s personal and professional life to once again uncover the person behind the business. We’ve unearthed myriad insights about this young entrepreneur in the making — and, after some digging, we can indeed confirm that his moustache is not a stick on. How impressive.

Read on for the highlights, or watch the full video below.

Engineering success

It’s a common misconception that all successful people know their final destination from the get-go. We’ve said before that there’s no one size fits all approach to engineering success, but Tengo’s pragmatic professional strategy could be the one for you.

Early on, he made key decisions with the goal of “optimising for opening doors”. This rather successful bid to find the right path forward was a boon to his professional growth — affording self-discovery and clarity without closing off potential routes.

The first algorithmic decision for Tengo was choosing to study Engineering over Maths — believing the former to leave more doors open to him. After University, his role at McKinsey served a similar function — whilst also bolstering his credibility and subsequent employability.

These thoughtful decisions and associations signalled to other employers that Tengo was a trustworthy employee — granting him newfound freedom to explore more specifically the roles that interested him most.

This logical approach is echoed throughout Tengo’s life — right down to his trusty “tea regime”, which, he muses, “is absolutely critical as a British Georgian”. In the mornings, it’s Green tea — or spice it up with Jasmine, if you’re feeling bold. Early afternoon, feel free to carry on with Green, but Earl Grey hits the spot if you’re ready to mix it up. And, past 7PM, dial back the pace with a calming chamomile tea to see you on through to bedtime.

Work can be hectic at times, and there are many forces acting beyond our control. If you take just one insight away from Tengo, it should be that you can — and should — control your tea regime.

Personal and professional growth

Tea regime aside, Tengo takes pride in many aspects of his Georgian heritage — a factor not absent when deciding his next move. Working at the Bank of Georgia was a fairly unexpected route for Tengo, yet afforded him many fantastic opportunities.

Working with a team; managing employees; and the exposure to “strong executives making important decisions” to name a few. This, coupled with the opportunity to be closer to extended family swung the decision to move: 

“To get closer to [his] roots in terms of culture, language, history, [and the] people.”

Moving to Georgia not only drastically altered his trajectory — but also opened him up to accolades that might have otherwise been out of reach. Whilst at the Bank of Georgia, Tengo’s efforts did not go unnoticed, and he was awarded Forbes 30 under 30 in 2020.

Despite the award, Tengo remains humble — maintaining that he was “the exact same person. I was the day after I got it [as I was] the day before”. Though symbols such as these can help to bolster credibility, he notes that it’s important not to “oversteer” or “pay too much attention” to titles such as these.

We did ask the all-important question you’re probably all thinking — and, no, Tengo has not personally used the title in a non-professional setting. However, a close friend may have dropped it in on a number of occasions to varying success — and what a good friend they must be.

A fresh start(up)

After trying on a few hats, Tengo realised that he wanted to work closely either with “building” or “distributing [a] product”. When working in large corporations “there’s only so much ownership you get” — ownership that Tengo now found himself yearning for.

All paths considered Tengo decided to start working for a startup (a move we most certainly approve of) — to find that sense of ownership. After some searching, he happened upon Pensight — whose mission aligned with his own morality:

“To democratise education [and] help independent experts share and make money.”

As Head of Growth, Tengo takes a “polymathic approach” — which seems to be a pre-requisite when considering all the levers involved. From “deeply understanding the customer”, to validating the product, and liaising with engineers to aid development — Tengo likes to have a finger in every pie, it would seem.

Scaling impact through technology

By working the odds, Tengo has triumphantly engineered his own success — but what’s left to optimise for? Will it be an MBA? A new role? Or something different altogether?

Ultimately, the “millennial answer” is true for Tengo — he wants impact. In a “parochial view” he’d like to have as much “positive impact” on Georgia as possible — but ideally, to scale that impact globally would “be the dream”.

Bolstering his skillset, and growing his network at every turn — we have no doubt Tengo will take his innovative thinking to the global stage. What’s more, you can too — noting that “tech startups and essentially, technology [are] the best way to do that in a scalable way”. So, it’s time to start planning, building and growing a better future. It’s time to start optimising.

A special thank you to Tengo for your wise words and incredible insights — we cannot wait to see what you do next. Feel free to head to the Tevent Talks Space to see what’s coming up next.

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