Navigating Leadership in the Baltics: Povilas Sadaunykas’ Journey 

Povilas Sadaunykas has been at Leinonen for a little over a year but has already made his mark. In this interview, we discussed his dynamic career path from the banking sector to his current leadership role, providing valuable insights into managing diverse work cultures and achieving a successful work-life balance. Continue to read more about his experiences and strategies for effective leadership. 

Please share a bit about your career journey, from your time in the banking sector to becoming the country manager for Lithuania, and now the Baltics Manager. 

I was always interested in business, therefore I decided to study business administration and management. Disregarding smaller that I had during my studies, my career started when I joined Nordea, a major bank in the region, as a project manager, where I worked on internal projects and learned about the inner workings of large organizations. I also spent some time in Copenhagen, developing internal IT systems for Nordea. 

After returning to Lithuania, I joined Swedbank and worked with business clients on digital solutions, eventually becoming a department head managing a team across the Baltics. My team focused on delivering digital solutions like Swedbank’s Internet bank and the banking app. 

Following my tenure at Swedbank, I became the CEO of a local bank. During this period, I started studying for a master’s degree in management at ISM (University of Management and Economics) where I met managers from different industries, which broadened my perspective about business in general. 

I was then approached by Leinonen and was impressed by the values and vision shared by Seppo and Petteri. Their commitment to employee well-being and strong business ethics convinced me to join the company.  

How is it to work as a Lithuanian, who is used to a fast-paced work style, with people from the Nordics? 

It’s been quite an experience. I had already gained some experience with the Scandinavian work culture during my time at Nordea, which in itself is a company made of a merger of about 250 banks. Even while physically working in Lithuania, I had my team based in the Baltics and the Nordics. 

There are differences in work styles, of course. Lithuanians tend to be rather strict, aiming to complete tasks quickly and at a high level. In contrast, the Nordic approach is generally more relaxed and analytical, taking time to consider all aspects before making decisions. This can sometimes be a struggle for someone used to a faster pace. However, there are benefits to both methods. The Lithuanian style ensures efficiency and quick results, while the Nordic style promotes thoroughness and well-thought-out decisions. 

Finding a balance between these approaches is key. While it can be challenging, it also leads to comprehensive and well-executed outcomes. However, if you are too slow, it can be frustrating even for a Nordic person. Overall, working with people from the Nordics has been a valuable learning experience, and I’ve come to appreciate the strengths of both work cultures. 

You joined Leinonen in April last year and became the Baltics Manager in less than a year. How did this happen, and how would you describe the transition from being the Country Manager for Lithuania to managing the whole Baltics? 

It was a combination of good timing and organizational readiness. When I joined Leinonen in April, the company was ready to take the next step in its development. I was fortunate to be in a position to help with that transition. The management decided to entrust me with the role of Baltics Manager, and I’m very grateful for that. 

My experience at Swedbank, where I led a Baltic team, was valuable. I had previously combined three local units into one Baltic team, creating common processes, structures, and ways of working. This experience was directly applicable to my new role at Leinonen, where I’m now building something similar on a larger scale. 

Having already led Baltic teams, I knew what to expect and how to communicate effectively across different countries. This familiarity helped me greatly in my transition. 

What do you think is the big advantage for clients now that the Baltic countries are unified under one structure at Leinonen? 

To give some examples, many companies we work with are becoming regional or are already operating regionally. They are looking for efficiencies, the ability to leverage a larger organization for better expertise and investments, and more streamlined processes. 

For instance, when we want to sign an agreement with a mobile network operator, dealing with three separate countries can be a lengthy process. Ideally, we want one point of contact who can provide services across all three Baltic countries, offering us one contract instead of three. This unified approach saves time and simplifies operations. 

This unification is crucial because our clients are also moving in this direction. They prefer working with a single company across multiple countries. For example, a client expanding from Latvia to Lithuania wants to work with the same company in both countries. If we can’t offer that, they’ll look for someone who can. 

Ultimately, everything we do is for the client. Our internal needs are secondary, and we must follow our clients’ needs to provide the best service. 

It’s been about four months since the change. Have you seen any positive impact, especially from the client’s perspective? 

I think the biggest positive change is yet to come. We’re still in the early stages of harmonizing our processes and understanding the intricacies of each country. This change also led to some managerial shifts, which created some initial instability. However, the clients we’ve introduced to this new way of working have given us positive feedback, especially those who were already our clients in other countries. They appreciate the shorter and more efficient communication lines, which meet their expectations for better service. 

What were the challenges regarding employees, and how did employees adjust to the new structure, especially since many leading positions went to Lithuanians? 

Lithuania is the largest of the three countries, both in revenue and personnel. It just happened that we had the strongest people (who are Lithuanian) for some of the key positions in the new org. structure. This fact of course does not mean that Lithuanians are better managers than Latvians or Estonians. Not at all. As an organization we promote people to higher positions based on the value that they bring to the company.   

Different work cultures are a challenge. Lithuania tends to work faster, while Estonia has a more methodical, Nordic approach. We respect each country’s specifics and try to ensure that our employees are not overly stressed. The key is balancing differences while working towards common goals and high standards for our clients. 

The key is balancing differences while working towards common goals and high standards for our clients. 

As a leader, how do you ensure your employees feel well-supported while maintaining the necessary authority and respect? 

Managing a company is a complex task, which requires expertise in many fields. What I try to do is to create a team of top professionals and build circumstances for them to do what they do best.  
I feel that in the Baltic management team we have created a good and welcoming atmosphere where members feel that they can speak openly, get their point across freely, and steer the conversation in the direction that they wish. What matters most is not who proposed the decision, but whether the decision that we made is the right one. This is important, because those decisions influence how we as an organization perform, how our employees feel at work and how our clients perceive our services.  

Speaking about authority, I think that in the Baltics (especially in Lithuania and Latvia) it comes naturally with the manager’s position even before one gets to know the person. Managers often seem distant, strict, and even intimidating. I think that this perception is changing. And one of the reasons behind it is that there are many new young managers coming into companies with international experience, where this old-school management by orders is a thing of the past. 

Attaining authority based on merit (in other words, based on what you have accomplished) is of course much more difficult. In the Baltics we have a brilliant management team of energetic professionals, who strive to be excellent at what they do. I have no doubt that even after this short period of running the Baltic organization they have proven themselves to the whole organization to be the leaders that can take Leinonen to the next level. 

You always have positions with a lot of responsibility, especially now in Leinonen. Do you ever get tired of it, or do you enjoy it? How do you maintain a good work-life balance, and what kind of activities do you enjoy in your free time? 

I do enjoy it. Of course, there are times when I get tired, but I generally thrive on the responsibility. What I do is I try to make sure to draw a line between work and personal life. I rarely work from home; I usually leave my laptop at the office and focus on home activities like walking my dog, reading books, and doing sports. For weekends, I enjoy traveling outside of the city with my wife. I think it’s important to have interests outside of work to keep a healthy balance.  

You have achieved a lot in your career and hold a high position at Leinonen. What advice would you give to those who feel they are not successful yet?  

It might sound cliché, but being curious and trying new things is crucial. When I am selecting someone for my team, I want a person who is active, knowledgeable, eager to learn, and has a drive to improve. For example, if a question is posed to the team and no one knows the answer, it’s great when there’s someone that takes the initiative to find out and comes back with the answer. This kind of curiosity and proactive attitude is invaluable. It builds trust, and you start relying on this person for more tasks and responsibilities. So, my advice is to stay curious, be ready to take on more, and don’t be afraid to face challenges. Always be open and active in your work. 

Changing the structure inside a company is difficult, but with the right team, everything is possible. Povilas Sadaunykas’ role is one of the key elements in this, and it was interesting to hear him share the benefits of unifying the Baltic countries under one structure at Leinonen, highlighting improved efficiency and client satisfaction. He also reflects on the challenges faced during the transition and emphasizes the importance of curiosity, proactive learning, and balancing authority with approachability to become a successful leader. We wish Povilas continued success in his journey and look forward to seeing the positive impact he will undoubtedly continue to make. 

Recent Posts

June 27, 2024

6 Great Reasons to Outsource Payroll

Payroll management can present challenges regardless of a company’s size. For small businesses with few team members, finding time to manage payroll is often tricky…

Continue reading
March 20, 2024 -

Ákos Journey: Leading with Vision and Values at Leinonen Hungary

Explore the story of Ákos, the Country Manager at Leinonen Hungary, and uncover why he was initially taken aback by the company’s Finnish work culture.…

Continue reading
February 12, 2024 -

Maria’s Leadership Journey at Leinonen Poland

Celebrating 15 years of great work in Poland, we’re really lucky to have Maria leading our team since 2020. Coming from Finland and with a…

Continue reading