VA10 Stories: 10 years of Growth

22 August 2022/Event

10 years of Growth

I used to think: “Thank goodness we moved into a new office just one month after the start of my internship”. The old office was small, cold in the winter and hot in the summer, and my commute was a pain.

In April of 2015, we moved into a beautiful office in the city centre, with sleek wood and glass partitions, air conditioning, and even a meeting room! I remember my university course mate once came over to the office to get a signature from Žilvinas on his university assignment. He was in awe of how gorgeous our office is. That made me feel so proud!

7 years later, I am grateful for so many things beyond the sleek walls of our office. And even though I have been “at the same place” for 7 years, for which I still get comments from people about being a modern-day labour market dinosaur, I feel like I have changed 7 jobs over the 7 years.

As a Research Assistant intern, I remember being terrified of making calls for interviews for the good practices we were writing up at the time. I remember Raimonda having my back to take those calls which I was not comfortable making. Karma of course got back at me by landing me at the European Parliament for my next internship, where I was handling all incoming calls for the MEP.

As a Junior Researcher, I remember my first European projects with Simonas in the education field. I also remember my very own first client, which Simonas entirely trusted upon me to deal with on my own. That also led me to my first business trips to Brussels and beyond. I was juggling a full-time job with a full-time Master‘s degree at the time, and these opportunities to detach and see more of Europe were a work perk I greatly valued. I can see clear as day now how my first couple of years working under the mentorship of Simonas built a foundation for the job I do now, and I will always be grateful for the trust he placed in me so early on in my career.

As a Researcher, I remember my first European evaluation tender, where I was in charge of drafting the methodology (unsuccessfully, of course). I also remember my first evaluation (successful this time!) for the Lithuanian authorities, where Jonas taught me step-by-step, and in great detail how to do counterfactual impact assessment, as well as where my mentorship journey with Agnė began. This first evaluation led to my very first assignment in the digital policy area, a niche Agnė, being the true visionary that she is, encouraged me to focus on. And just look at where we are now! I also remember my first invitation to a conference to present our evaluation results, which was an opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments and actually did wonders for my confidence. I remember my first framework contract to lead, for which we had to build a whole management approach from scratch. There were other important firsts: my first co-authored research paper; my first employee mentee, who I think actually taught me so much more than I ever taught her; my first challenging project, which made us as a team stronger than ever. Those challenges were major milestones for our team, and Žilvinas is undoubtedly a true visionary, as he kept translating all difficulties and failures into lessons learnt, and those – into the soundest market strategy I have seen so far. I am so grateful that I still have the opportunity to work side by side with him, look up to him and keep on learning from him.

As a Research Manager, I have been experiencing a lot of “firsts” lately as well. Most notably, my first projects where I’m taking a backseat while my teammates are the real superheroes behind projects. The moment I got the responsibility for my own team, making sure that everyone is challenged to grow in a healthy way and find fulfillment in their work, made my personal “why” in this company crystal clear. And I know beyond a shadow of a doubt there is a whole bunch of firsts to look forward to.

Behind these professional milestones, I also carry 7 years‘ worth of personal wins and struggles. I‘ve spilled Red Bull as well as tears on my keyboard, because life sometimes also happens while you have a deadline. Behind the projects and tenders, there are also deep friendships with people that I can trust with my most precious things in life. Moreover, the absolutely delightful new colleagues, who I have had the privilege of meeting just recently, make me confident that we are doing something right here.

I used to be glad that I only got to work in the nice office. Oh, how much more there is to be grateful for! I now actually think I would have loved to be there from day one, in the old office. This way, I would probably be even more appreciative of what we have built here together in these 10 years.

– Audronė Sadauskaitė

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