1. Introduce yourself shortly.
I’ve always been passionate about the ways that help people do things in a faster, more efficient and profitable way using technology. It has inspired me to do vast amounts of technological experiments to understand how to best use my strengths, that could be useful to others too. Today I define myself through my ability to help entrepreneurs take a step further in their life or business. I’m currently working as the Innovation Manager at SEB Bank. My job is to promote the intrapreneurship culture amongst the Baltic region employees and to develop productive cooperation with external entrepreneurs. By collaborating with other entrepreneurs, I have had the honour to be at the creation of the following projects: eAkadeemia for starting entrepreneurs, Growth Programme for active entrepreneurs, Open Banking programs for technology companies, Innovation Centre for new initiatives etc.
2. Three facts about you:
Work makes money. I’m extremely grateful to my parents who didn’t give me pocket money but gave me jobs to earn it. Everything in this life has a price: weeding the farm fields, collecting empty bottles or packing and weighting sugar bags at your father’s shop.
Engineer by heart. Nõo school has always been amongst the most innovative in Estonia – in secondary school I wrote my first lines of computer code, and issued the first invoices for creating websites for companies. I worked as a freelancer throughout the high school and IT College, until I started to develop my management and leadership art more consciously.
Entrepreneurial. When I was supposed to go through an internship at IT College, I wrote to one of the main managers in a top software development firm Helmes: “You guys are doing cool stuff, I’d like to contribute, please give me an opportunity”. After meeting with Sten Tamkivi, Andres Agasild and Jaan Pillesaar, I spent my next 5 years managing some extremely exciting and business critical software development projects at Helmes. I wished to become more structured about my business knowledge, so I applied to EBS in the late 2008, joining the first lectures on the fly.
3. How has EBS influenced your career?
Having an education in IT, I decided to join the EMBA course in 2008 to improve my business skills. It turned out to be a superb decision – I was surrounded by very multidisciplinary and experienced people. Like always, I was the youngest in my group, but thanks to that I had more to learn from the other experienced leaders.
Alongside graduating from EMBA, I finished my MBA degree and made a lot of cool friends with whom I have later worked on several interesting projects together.
There was a bigger change in 2009 while studying in EBS – I decided to quit my job at Helmes and started focusing more on managing bigger digital marketing projects all over Europe. The contacts I got from the universities have later been a major help while making different decisions and doing successful projects.
4. So far, what has been the biggest challenge of your career?
The most difficult period was the one a few years ago while I was trying to figure out what would fit me the best – either the life of a startup-founder, investor, coach, consultant, wage worker, leader or an expert. Should I focus only on one business or could I successfully manage several big projects at once? I was doing all these things simultaneously and I was rather frustrated because I couldn’t make up my mind where to focus and invest my energy. I was consulting with a number of experienced people and one of the thoughts that still resonates with me is from Peep Vain: “Simply experiment with different combinations”. I let go of the thought that I need to have it figured out immediately and made dozens of experiments without knowing where I might end up.
Thanks to experimenting I realised the roles of an entrepreneur, investor, coach, manager, leader and expert could all be combined into one. As the Innovation Manager at SEB I can do all those things at once and help multiple companies to successfully improve their businesses. The next challenge will be scaling this capability.
5. What motivates you to work and constantly make progress?
Seeing improvement. Working with those more experienced than me. Realising how many others benefit and gain from my dedication to my work. Contributing immensely as a team.
6. Name three activities/wishes/experiences that are on your Bucket list.
Chatbot-clone of myself who could coach 10 times more people every year. Its prototype is already trying to learn from the questions it’s been asked.
Get a PhD to demonstrate that I’ve created a scientifically validated system that helps the businesses grow effectively.
I believe that one day I’ll meet a woman with whom we feel mutual love, create a family and raise children together.
7. What do you do in your spare time?
I try to maximise my interaction with more experienced people. I also play tennis and golf as social sports. It’s extremely important to take time to develop yourself consciously, so you would sense the opportunities better and make intuitively right decisions. Therefore, I like taking time to myself by hiking in the wild and exercising oriental practices of the body and mind.
8. If you could live the life of any celebrity, who would you like to be?
I could learn a lot from anyone’s life, but most importantly one must learn from their own. Given my current role, Eric Ries is someone I would learn the most from.
Fame is necessary only to get your message/vision through to as many people as possible. It’s worth becoming famous only when you’ve excelled in a certain field at least in your country.
9. If you could have any superpower, which one would you choose?
I have the power to see opportunities where others can’t see them yet and make them work for different parties. I would amplify this power 10 times!
10. What advice would you give to your younger self if you had the chance to start your career all over again?
I never regret anything in my life – every experience is a lesson. Sometimes we make the same mistake again until we get the sense and knowledge to make better choices. The same way as money makes things go faster, the right choices help us save time – or make ‘mistakes’ we can learn from. Sometimes you need several lessons to completely understand something.
If I had had the chance to give advice to myself, I would’ve advised to always choose a business according to its team’s values. The team is a lot more important than the idea itself.
11. What is your favourite quote?
“If you’re not making someone else’s life better, then you’re wasting your time. Your life will become better by making other lives better.” – Will Smith
Translator: Triin Tikk
Editor: Kart Mättikas
Photo: Siim Lepisk