1. Please give us an overview of your career.
I am an architectural historian by education, and when it was time to do an
internship, the pedagogical internship immediately fell out: “Me as a teacher!
Never.” Archeology at Pirita Monastery helped. But never say never. 😉
I worked as a historian at the National Institute of Cultural Monuments. Then I
moved to Hiiumaa, where I was first a historian of the Hiiu Kalur fisherman’s
collective farm – I studied the history of fishing in Hiiumaa, I wrote a book for
the 40th anniversary of the collective farm. The bigger goal was to create a
fisheries museum. But ocean fishing went down, and money was scarce.
That’s why I was appointed head of the organizational department – office,
meetings, editing of the collective farm newspaper… Exciting times.
At the beginning of the independence of Estonia, I was a cultural adviser to
the county government, responsible for cultural activities in the county, ie
libraries, clubs, as well as foreign relations and friendship areas in Finland,
Sweden and Germany. I still have several good friends in Virolahti.
Starting a business also falls into this time. The Liivatrummi shop was one of
the first private shops in Hiiumaa. But life became too calm for me…
In the spring of 1995, I noticed an advertisement in Eesti Ekspress that the
chewing gum company Wrigley was looking for a country manager. I already
had a good memory of the Juicy Fruit from 70’s – my great aunt lived in New
York and somehow, she was able to get it through Soviet acquaintances to
Soviet Estonia. So, I submitted the application and from the autumn I was
back on the mainland, responsible for the Estonian representation and sales
results. A motivated team was put together and the market share increased
from 23% to 76% in almost 6 years. It was like a gamble that made us move.
Then I got bored again, Orbit was everywhere 😉 I wanted to leave, but in
Munich, where the European headquarters were, I was told that they could not
possibly let me go. I was proposed to go to Central Asia. After all, I spoke
Russian, and what they didn’t know was that I had been in the army in
Tashkent for 1.5 years during the Soviet era. So, back to the familiar
At the end of the summer of 2000, I found myself in the middle of an unknown
world, in charge of the markets-representations-sales-teams of Uzbekistan,
Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. Three years of fantastic experience
In the spring of 2003, I came back to Estonia, living at airports began to get
annoying. I tried to find something exciting, but since I was used to deciding
and taking responsibility, "Saluting officers" was no longer appropriate in a
certain environment for me.
The rule is that if we want something, those things come to us. In May 2005, I
was asked to come to do a sales training to some brokers by a real estate
group – ”You have a long sales experience, come share your knowledge.” I
said ”yes”, because at the time it seemed like an exciting opportunity. I am not
becoming a teacher!!!!
The lectures went well, the participants were satisfied and even I quite liked it.
Pretty soon it was suggested by Vain and Partners to become a coach; I got
to teach, study, and develop there for two years. In 2007, I got the proposal
from EBS to start with a sales course, which I gladly accepted.
In the meantime, in addition to training people, I got to work at a real estate
sales agency and organize the work of brokers, and for several years at the
goods placement team in Estonian stores.
Now, for over 15 years, I am in a situation where I am my own master. I do the
things that I like and have fun with. I decide myself; I do and take responsibility
2. Tell us something about you that your students might not know.
Hmmm… maybe that I like to try different national dishes and cuisines, that
might seem extreme to some. Asia had so much to offer. Korean meat,
Uzbekistan horse- and camel meat dishes. Chinese cuisine is a special
experience – any kinds of bugs and insects…
3. What is your biggest dream?
To keep on having as much fun in life as I have until now.
4. If you could leave your job and other responsibilities aside, what would
you immediately do?
I would travel the world with my other half, for about a year or so.
5. Tell us about the greatest life-lessons of your career.
Relationships and trust, the creation and maintenance of them. We live in a
village, so to speak, where everyone knows each other one way or another.
Whether we are a salesperson, coach, an owner of a company or a taxi driver.
In both personal life and professional level, these are the two keywords that
help us live our lives more easily and without trying too hard without any
Also, definitely 86 400 – time, which is the most precious resource of our lives.
To know how to use and keep it is more about the meaning than counting
numbers. To find a great balance between work and personal life.
6. If a student would like to try out your area of expertise, where would you
suggest starting from?
Start from the bottom, gather experiences, be motivated, take responsibility for
your decisions and results. Then, there is nothing stopping you from climbing
up the career ladder… if you want to do that.
7. How would you describe yourself as a person and as a lecturer?
Well, this should have been asked from my students. 😉 I am strict with
deadlines. If there is a legitimate reason that you won’t do it at the right time,
ant it is brought up early enough, then we can always come up with a solution.
However, if you discover that you didn’t submit your assignment one and a
half months after the deadline then sorri vaan…
8. Can you remember any funny moments from your lectures?
Not anything directly from lectures, but when I’ve asked students why the
homework wasn’t submitted by the deadline, I’ve gotten answers like “I live in
Tartu” and “The Christmas arrived so unexpectedly”.
Editor: Tea Teesalu
Translator: Marlen Kuusk