First of all, tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are today.
I served 16 years in Estonian Defense Forces (EDF) and left them this summer in a rank of major. These were very interesting and challenging times as I had a chance to take part in building up new capabilities and units. Education was always valued there and beside finishing the basic officer course (eq. to BA) and the senior officer course (MA) in the Estonian Military Academy, I took part in multiple other planning and leadership courses around the world. All of those were closely connected to different positions and assignments in the EDF or on deployments. Meaning that I had a chance to put everything I learnt in practice. This gave me a great opportunity not only to understand how military decision-making procedures work on different levels, but also how are the implemented in different NATO countries. Seeing the multiple opportunities for military planning often got me thinking about how and when one or another method should be used.
This guided me into picking “decision making” as my MA thesis main topic. By researching also, the civilian side of planning, I understood how different and at the same time similar it seemed to what I was used to. Leadership methods can vary from extremely detailed processes used in some bigger militaries to almost chaos-like free flow concepts in some small start-ups. Both can work perfectly, but only for that specific situation. The more I researched the civilian side and the challenges it involved, the more it got me interested. As the saying goes, you must be careful what you wish for, it might come true.
What are your plans for the new position?
Every unit or company has its own specialties. So, the preliminary goal is always getting to know how the specific system works. After this it can be modified or guided to better or smoother solutions with lesser need for deconfliction between departments. However, this should come step by step and sudden changes don’t usually work the best. If after 12 months, Threods’ internal processes work better and every employee understands their goals and tasks in relations with the strategic goals, then I believe that I have made a difference.
Where do you see Threod and yourself in 5 years’ time?
I would not have made the (huge) decision of leaving my career in the military If I didn’t believe in the success of Threod Systems. The opportunity to grow rapidly and to really become one of industry leading companies in the World is very realistic for us. It will not be easy, and a huge amount of work must be done for this to happen. Especially in the next 2-3 years, but it can be done. What I liked here already with my first visits was the energy and motivation that everyone had when they described me their job. They know that they are creating competitively the best unmanned aerial systems (UAS) and they are very proud of it. So, I guess my goal is to make sure they can keep that spark in their eyes even if the company is 3 times bigger.
How did you get to know about Threod?
During my service in EDF I had a chance to be the end user of Threod Systems UAS during multiple field exercises. I already saw the quality and potential of these systems back then and was very impressed with what they had accomplished. I had real-life experience with our systems in addition to UAV-s I was already familiar with during Afghanistan ISAF operations. I have been one of the customers, therefor it is very easy now for me to find the mutual understanding with new ones.
What it’s like to work in Threod Systems?
As my background is mostly being the end user and not the constructor of these systems, my role here is very much focused on the overall management. I keep getting impressed by the knowledge and skills our specialists have about their field, but this is also where I can be the most useful. Everyone is very enthusiastic about developing new concepts, as well as tailoring them to perfection. Thus, keeping track of deadlines can be easily forgotten. So, making sure that every department has a clear goal in order to keep things going in the right direction is the main priority for me. Most challenging is to make sure that administrative issues don’t start interfering with the actual work that they are doing. Additionally, my responsibility is to represent Threod Systems quite often and also to meet the potential clients, which makes my job even more interesting.
What’s your best shortcut or life hack in managing people or getting things done?
The golden rule with working with people is that if you want someone to do something, you need to make sure he or she understands why. The motivation should come from within each person. As soon as the person understands the role in the task and the overall goals, it is a natural process.
How do you keep track of what you have to do?
For everyday tasks and schedules I use an online calendar which is quite irreplaceable nowadays. But as my focus is also a lot on the long-term plans and bigger picture, I guess you can call me an MS Excel person. Visualizing events and tasks on an overall timeline is the best way for showing what is really going on. Of course, all the detailed tasks should be given in special programs made for that reason. But so far, I haven’t found an easier or better method for the big picture. It is a fact that simple things work best in life and Excel sure is simple if used correctly.
How do you recharge or take a break?
Spending time with my wife and daughter is very important for me and is the best way for getting thoughts away from work. My focus is definitely in there right now, especially during the weekends. If I do have some additional free time then one of my favorite hobbies is skydiving and as an instructor in the Estonian skydiving club, it gives me great joy to give others an opportunity to fly.