Alumni Profiles

Kristjan Liive

United Kingdom

Kristjan Liive has been working to develop the Alumni Network as a volunteer after participating in Estonia.

60-Second Interview

What three words would you use to describe your Company Programme experience?
Intense, insightful, inspiring.
In more detail, tell us about your journey
I participated in the company programme in Estonia during my second last year in high school. Our company consisted of 4 boys and it was called TäitsaPael (which is a word play in Estonian – “täitsa pael” is an informal expression for expressing excitement while the words “täitsa” and “pael” on their own mean “totally” and “rope”, respectively).

We produced leather and fabric bracelets that were mainly aimed at men, but we also had couple of women designs. After forming our team, we divided the roles and I was considered the best candidate for the CEO position. We started by brainstorming ideas and after 2 months of research and advice from professional leather designer Stella Soomlais, we had ordered the supplies for making the first batch of bracelets.

Fast forward 6 months, we were one of the 21 companies at the national finals and ended up at the 9th position. The main lessons I learned where definitely related to understanding people better – both myself and the people I worked with over the period of the programme. I realised that different people have different priorities and are motivated different things. It also pointed out that I needed to learn to delegate and trust others more.
How do you feel the Company Programme helped you prepare for life after school?
Definitely the biggest take-away for me was the confidence that no matter what happens, I have the knowledge and skills to start my own company, meaning there is always something I can do if I am not with my current situation.

Three years after completing the programme, I can tell that it developed my entrepreneurial skills, out of which I believe proactivity and problem-solving are the most important ones. These skills (meaning it is possible to learn them) have helped me to get where I have got today, and I will keep developing them to go further.
What has your journey been like post-school?
I decided to take the chance and apply to the universities abroad, since there was nothing to lose! After getting rejected from the University of Cambridge, I started studying BSc Computer Science at the University of Edinburgh, which again ended up being a better outcome for me at this stage of life. I got actively involved in different extracurricular activities at the university, including TEDxEdinburgh, Edinburgh Estonian Society, and Edinburgh University Entrepreneurship Society.

In addition, out of necessity I became interested in organising events starting from 48h accelerator programme aimed at Estonian company programme participants and ending with technology and politics related Cambridge Baltic Conference in 2017 and the conference gathering more than 200 alumni of Young Enterprise (or their national equivalent) programmes from 40 countries around the world.

During the last 2 summers, however, I sold educational textbooks in the US door to door to develop my people-skills, broaden my comfort zone and contribute to the local students’ future. Since autumn 2017, I have been actively involved in help to accelerate the development of Young Enterprise alumni community here in Scotland since I truly believe it is something every student from the programme would benefit from, be it on national or international level.
What advice would you give to anyone setting out on this journey?
For those who are not sure whether to participate in the programme or not, I would recommend participating. Not everyone will become entrepreneurs, but everyone will benefit from developing their entrepreneurial qualities.

For advice in general, I believe that there are the things that we can control, and the things we can’t. The ones we can are our attitude and effort, meaning the way we react to what happens to us and the work we put in to achieve our goals. In addition, I have found it truly useful and enjoyable to stay optimistic. If things go well there is something to be grateful for. If challenging time occur, it is time to ask what I can learn from this situation and understand that it prepares me for bigger challenges in the future.

Everything happens for a reason.

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