Undergrad studies in England that first seemed surprisingly difficult. British humour that's not always easy to understand. A year spent flying to Stockholm and back every week to advise IKEA on business processes. An unexpected meeting with an Agile evangelist which led to new prospects. We discuss all this and more with Dominykas Punis, Agile Coach at Treatwell's Vilnius branch.
After graduating from high school, you went to the UK. What was so enticing about studying and living in Britain?
Back in school, I had this conviction that you can attain certain competencies only abroad. I began my search for study programmes when some of my closest friends had done the same. Since I had good grades, my friends encouraged me to go to the UK. At that time, it seemed that not going abroad would even be a bit embarrassing!
Was it hard to integrate into a new culture and education system?
I had no concrete expectations about the study process, but I must admit that I was a little bit shocked when I arrived. The whole study process took place at a much higher level than I was used to. Anyway, over time, I realized that students were actually provided with more liberty, and you were expected to delve more deeply into the areas that interested you.
In terms of culture, there was some sort of a dividing line between British and international students. Don't get me wrong, everyone was exceptionally pleasant, but still, I felt a number of cultural and even linguistic barriers. This was especially evident among young people - language skills alone were not enough to understand local humour. As a result, we established closer ties with other Lithuanians and students from other countries.
And when did you start your career path - during your studies or already after graduating?
Well, one of the reasons I was so eager to leave for England was that one of the four years of my programme was devoted to an internship. I thought that the earlier I started working in my field, the better. There was no need to work during my freshman year, as my parents financially supported me. This gave me the opportunity to devote more time to studying and cultural integration. And from my second year, even though the university did not offer much help in this regard, I started working as a business consultant at IBM. After my studies, I returned to the same company, where I spent most of my time developing projects for its clients.
I discovered my current professional field while working on a project for IKEA, where I was responsible for the work processes and smooth cooperation between two teams. So, I would fly to Sweden for business every Monday and come back every Thursday. Since it did not matter to the client which country I was returning to, I finally decided to move out of my apartment in London and spend the weekends in Lithuania.
I believe that there is no shortage of efficiently functioning businesses in Lithuania, and it is essential to cultivate a proper work culture and attitude towards people.
And how did you decide to root yourself in Lithuania and start working in a Lithuania-based company?
As I was spending weekends in Lithuania, I developed an interest in how the field I was passionate about looked like here and who were its leaders. I soon started to notice the same name pop up everywhere. Vaidas Adomauskas, the evangelist of Agile in Lithuania, who founded the Agile Lietuva association. A while later, I unexpectedly met him on a plane from Copenhagen to Vilnius. My knowledge and enthusiasm apparently impressed him, and we decided to try to expand Agile consultations in Lithuania. It was another incentive for me to give up a comfortable British salary and start building something more serious here.
At that time, indeed, I had not yet made a final decision, because the consulting field in Lithuania was not as widely developed as it is today. As a result, I accepted an offer from an acquaintance of Vaidas to return to Lithuania and work as an Agile consultant at SEB Bank. I made this decision not only because I wanted to work in my home country, but also because of career opportunities. In England, there is much more competition, and there I would have only been able to take on similar positions 2 or 3 years down the road.
How did you land your current job at Treatwell?
It took some time to get there! Initially, I transferred from SEB Bank to Danske Bank, while providing training services as a freelancer. Having had enough of being a consultant, I received an offer from Treatwell, which I gladly accepted as I was intrigued by the company's operations and their fair approach to people and business processes. Since this happened in February, I was delighted that my work had not changed substantially since the start of the quarantine and that my position had not been threatened. Since I only worked "in person" for the company for about a month, adapting to work exclusively remotely was a significant but exciting challenge.
In your opinion, how do international companies manage to transfer their work culture and best practices to Lithuania? Do you feel that working at Treatwell in Lithuanian is similar to working in a similar company in Sweden or the UK?
I support Lithuania and Lithuanian companies, and I think that it is always necessary to assess whether the company's work culture, viewed from the outside, corresponds to what its employees see from the inside. I would not say that the work culture in England is unequivocally better, as a lot depends on the particular company and its management.
I believe that there is no shortage of efficiently functioning businesses in Lithuania, and it is essential to cultivate a proper work culture and attitude towards people. Coming back to Treatwell, the company follows the right approach, which is clearly communicated to its employees in Lithuania, who, in turn, contribute to its development.