This interview shines a spotlight on the amazing career path of Pille Room, Human Resource Manager currently working from Tallin, Estonia. This year, we are celebrating 15 years of activity in Tallinn. Majorel Estonia is one of our multilingual hubs, uniting colleagues of more than 50 nationalities over this 15-years-long success journey. Throughout Pille’s 13-years-long career with Majorel, she has remained a bold explorer, a strong leader and a pioneer.
“We all have our story to tell, the difference is whether you like yours to be written by others or by yourself. Having a career that you love is a true blessing and I am happy to have one! I owe my success to the people who believed in me, because I sure didn’t! I started as a worker in a cheap horrible hostel. Back then, I couldn’t even dare to dream that one day, I would be part of an international management team, lead cross boarder projects and actively contribute to the success of a truly global team.“
- Tell us a little about your story within Majorel?
My first working day at Majorel was a disaster… I left the office crying. On that first day, my first task was to prepare a pile of contracts. While I had no idea, from which folder to find what, employees were waiting a long time outside in a queue. I was surrounded by supportive colleagues, but we were all overloaded and everything needed to be done ASAP. Somehow, I managed… poorly, but I managed. I wasn’t fired! Today I still rely (a lot!) on my colleagues’ support and input. Throughout this journey I have been studying (about) and working with international stakeholders and multicultural teams. Today, I get to share my experience and knowledge on cultural differences with the students at the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences.
- What are the projects you enjoy the most in your current position?
I very much enjoy the cooperation with our global team, especially on projects aiming at strengthening and growing our global presence. I take part in the process of opening operations in new locations from the beginning. I enjoy the work because we are responsible for creating new teams and setting up the foundation of our future business. I find it an exciting, yet challenging process because of the many cultural and social factors we have to consider to ensure the success of a project.
- Along your job within Majorel, you’re also a Lecturer of Cultural Differences at the Estonian Entrepreneurship University of Applied Sciences. How do you manage both and how is this working out for you personally and professionally?
I am a bit hectic type – I started my studies to become Estonian language and literature teacher, moved to psychology studies (with specialization of HR management) and now I am in the middle of business management in digital society. From this year on, I am also be a part of a small start-up business… Let’s see, what else is there, I can put my nose into. 🙂
My lecturing job is dream come true. I’ve never been an exemplary student… When combining full time work, studies, and 2 kids, you got to cut some corners to survive. But after gaining quite an extensive professional experience, I was offered this amazing opportunity! My lectures are mostly during weekends and in average 2 days per month, so workload is manageable.
- Let’s touch on the work-life balance for women. From your experience, what advice would you give to women who want successful careers and happy lives?
In my opinion, there is no such thing as work-life balance. And the sooner you accept this, the easier. If you want both a career and a family, you have to shift your focus as the situation requires. When work requires your time, give it to work, when your full attention is needed at home, be there. Be there not only physically, but in your mind as well – be present where your presence is needed the most. Do I practice what I preach? Well, not completely successful, but I always keep trying. I have irreplaceable support at home, without people in your corner a lot can seem hard to achieve. But remember, regardless if you are male or female, everything is possible.
- Why do you think is the HR industry is mostly dominated by women?
Local cultural differences can influence the tendency, but there’s a historical legacy here. HR positions are grown out from accountants and secretary roles. These supportive functions have been mainly held by women. A second reason: stereotypes – something we are now fighting against cross industries. HR is often times considered as the soft side of a company; the place where there is more than just numbers and business strategies, the place where employees are seen as individuals. The ideal picture of a women in society is caring, nurturing, – and because of this HR roles are more likely filled by women.
Of course, today, from a HR role, you gain a thorough business knowledge. Now, more than ever, we know that profit is not an objective, but a result of well-selected, mentored, and supported people management.
- Besides the regular skills we know a leader should possess, are there any extra skills a woman in a leading position should have?
When we look at universal characteristics that define a leader, we find: self-confident, decisive, result-oriented, influential, competitive etc. Unfortunately, in some cases these are seen as positive mainly among men leaders. Of course, women bring a more human-centred approach to leadership and I think we should not change. Doing research about unconscious biases in gender roles is one way to prepare yourself and avoid traps in the workplace. But doing your homework, showing genuine interest, and having a clear and confident self-introduction (there’s nothing more lasting than the first impression!) will prove efficient in any situation.
Read more career stories here.