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Monika Okmanė: Shaping Tesonet Culture

What’s the buzz? Well, last year we broke our own record and hired 489 people. Now that’s freaking amazing. What’s even more exciting, we ain’t gonna stop. As the year goes on, our ambition only thrives. So we wait no more and discuss all the changes with our Head of HR Monika Okmanė and what it’s like to guide a gang of more than 1000 techies.

When people start working here at Tesonet, they hear lots of stories about the very start before the big bang of the company. Since you’re here from the very beginning, would you share your memories?

I joined Tesonet in 2015 when we had about 10 employees at the time. Recently, I pulled out some old photos, and it was exciting to recall what it was like then, and what has dramatically changed over the last five years. Back then everyone was fully involved in building the company’s culture. For example, buns on Fridays were suggested by one of those very first employees. And this tradition has lived on until today as an important part of our culture. So naturally, each employee carried a greater sense of ownership then. It’s a bit different now – as we’re growing in number so fast, we can no longer get involved in every decision.

However, now we appreciate other things that didn’t exist at that time. As a company, today we’re stable, solid, and mature. In five years, we’ve grown into a proud creator and investor of various global products that inspire and open up more and more opportunities. It’s kind of awesome.

Tesonet team 5 years ago

What are the main challenges that come with such fast growth? What does it take to maintain integrity?

Probably what’s most exciting is that the Tesonet culture has grown so strong that today it attracts people, both externally and internally. As there are more than 1000 of us, it’s quite natural that separate teams want to build their own identity. And I think, as long as we have common Tesonet goals, it rather complements the overall culture.

Today we see Tesonet as an incubator, an accelerator specializing in all things IT. And as we’re growing so fast, it’s our strength to have such a foundation with core values.

How would you describe the vision for Tesonet’s future?

Last year we focused on rapid growth and today our main goal is quality. We’re really excited about the refined hiring process so we can focus more on engaging our existing staff. We’ll strive to bring HR closer to each team and their leads, meaning more one-on-one meetings and having an HR manager assigned to every team. Such and many more plans are in order to help our people succeed and be happy members of the Teso family. 

So what kind of new initiatives are in HR plans for our people this year?

If earlier we could all simply just sit down and talk together about any concerns, now it’s becoming a bit more complicated to feel the pulse. Willing to hear as many opinions as possible, we’ll practice updated surveys to evaluate what works and what doesn’t, what has to be changed.

We plan to strengthen the learning and development field so that existing employees would have the greatest opportunities for their growth and learning. We’ll bring even more focus to the team leads to make them stronger, better at leading and evaluating performance, more skilled in managing certain processes.

Now, you mentioned learning. What are the news and ambitions in this field?

One of the perks at Tesonet is professional growth opportunities, like training courses and global conferences. Since last year, we have a new specialist in Learning and Development who has started to provide internal training sessions. So we’re thrilled that Tesonet employees now have access to diverse soft training, such as stress or time management. At the moment, we’re still working on the system to make it easily accessible to everyone. 

How would you describe Teso identity as a community and an individual?

Tesonet DNA is quite easy to perceive, but not so easy to define. We’re vigorous, constantly moving forward and exploring. We love learning and discussing. Here at Tesonet, folks take the initiative and organize knowledge sharing sessions themselves. Probably, it’s the best indicator that they genuinely care about what they do. And it’s truly inspiring.

As referring to an individual, one isn’t afraid to break the standards, has a strong sense of ownership and wants to see their company thrive. It’s not enough to be an excellent specialist, as we highly value soft skills here. So a Teso citizen is proactive, shares a can-do attitude and is, definitely, a caring team player.

What are your thoughts about leadership and mentoring others?

It’s a great challenge of finding a balance between a wide range of different duties and roles. Not only do I lead the HR team, but I’m also responsible for over a thousand people, of whom I deeply care so they would have the best working environment. 

Since I’m involved almost everywhere, I have to put out daily fires and develop a long term strategy alongside. So I’m constantly learning and seeking the perfect balance on how to build winning teams and how to give individuals every possible opportunity to grow and be successful.