Alumni Stories

 Eva Jansen
Director, Board member, PwC Tallinn
Country: Estonia
Year of graduation: 1998

What makes SSE Riga unique and distinguishes it from other business schools?
I am confident that no other school in the Baltics can offer such a combination of an international background, a modern programme, long traditions and an extremely high level of practical experience.
Which was the most useful course at SSE Riga and why?
If I look back it is impossible to choose – I would say that I loved the well-balanced combination of management skills coupled with technical subjects – and this also ideally characterises the choices I have made for my career, where I need to be excellent in both equally.
What is one important thing you learned at SSE Riga?
It might sound cliché-like, but I learned that you can achieve anything.
What does it take to be a successful SSE Riga student?
Commitment and energy.
What did you enjoy the most during your time in SSE Riga?
The environment and the process, and the numerous opportunities to challenge yourself.
Was it easy to find a good job after finishing your studies?
Yes.
Have you worked together with people from SSE Riga?
Yes – I am recruiting them to PwC every year! Also some of my clients are SSE Riga alumni.
Were the contacts gained at SSE Riga valuable for your career?
I think that the relationships you collect and invest in have a big influence on you as a person, so yes, I think the SSE Riga alumni are and always will be a very special group of people for me.
Suggestions for potential SSE Riga students?
I think it always helps to find your path when you know what is important for you going forward, and what you would like to try during your journey. Things are worth doing only if you enjoy doing them, even if it is part of a bigger plan.


 Gatis Eglitis
DG ECFIN, economist for Latvia, the European Commission
Country: Belgium
Year of graduation: 2000

What makes SSE Riga unique and distinguishes it from other business schools?
You really need to study/work hard to earn the degree – it teaches work ethics, and not to give up, to find solutions, strive for achievement, etc.
Which was the most useful course in SSE Riga and why?
Probably finance – it laid a good foundation which was good for understanding complex finance issues.
What is one important thing you learned at SSE Riga?
Strive for better.
What does it take to be a successful SSE Riga student?
Ambition.
What did you enjoy the most during your time at SSE Riga?
Close community of friends.
Was it easy to find a good job after finishing your studies?
Yes.
Have you worked together with people from SSE Riga?
Yes.
Were the contacts gained at SSE Riga valuable for your career?
No, because of the specifics of my chosen career.
Suggestions for potential SSE Riga students?
Invest in your education – SSE Riga is a great first step, follow it up with a Masters/PhD program.


 Janis Berzins
Foreign Policy Adviser, Saeima, National Parliament of Latvia
Country: Latvia
Year of graduation: 2005

What makes SSE Riga unique and distinguishes it from other business schools?
The international teaching staff provides not only the best professors out there, but also for a broad experience in terms of people.
Which was the most useful course in SSE Riga and why?
Financial Accounting – because above all it taught you not to give up.
What is one important thing you learned at SSE Riga?
One important thing that I have learned is creative thinking outside the box, which includes defining the box and its parameters first.
What does it take to be a successful SSE Riga student?
Remembering that theory is not everything, and knowing how to apply what has been learned to real world situations.
What did you enjoy the most during your time in SSE Riga?
I enjoyed the most the fact that everybody was like a big family.
Was it easy to find a good job after finishing your studies?
Yes it was – I found one even before graduating.
Have you worked together with people from SSE Riga?
Yes – several other graduates have decided to join the Foreign Service.
Were the contacts gained at SSE Riga valuable for your career?
No, because my career took me in a different path.
Suggestions for potential SSE Riga students?
If you think it will be hard to understand everything then multiply that by four and you might get an idea of what it is really like. A good sense of life balance, humour and drinking helps.


 Renate Kalnina
Development Project Manager, Lattelecom SIA, Telecommunications
Country: Latvia
Year of graduation: 2006

What makes SSE Riga unique and distinguishes it from other business schools? 
First of all, only the best student candidates have the opportunity to study in SSE Riga; therefore, the admission process already helps to ensure the quality of the study process. Secondly, the “study hard” policy, together with the strict rules of no cheating, deadlines, etc. guarantees the quality of the knowledge the students get. And what is more, SSE Riga has an international environment (both in faculty and among students), which provides a wider perspective on many issues.
Which was the most useful course in SSE Riga and why?
I cannot say that one course has been more useful than all the others. I rather tend to think that the composition of all the courses has given the right balance.
What is one important thing you learned at SSE Riga?
Teamwork and time management skills.
What does it take to be a successful SSE Riga student?
Constant studying, proper time management skills, and achieving balance in personal and study life.
What did you enjoy the most during your time in SSE Riga? 
If I have to mention something apart from studying, then definitely SSE Riga parties and social events.
Was it easy to find a good job after finishing your studies? 
Yes, it was easy. Actually I started working already after Year 2, when I finished my summer internship and stayed with the same company.
Have you worked together with people from SSE Riga? 
Yes, I have.
Were the contacts gained at SSE Riga valuable for your career?
Yes, definitely.
Suggestions for potential SSE Riga students?
Study hard and also participate in various social events organized by SSE Riga. Then, you will be able to gain not only valuable knowledge and experience but also get new friends and lot of good acquaintances. This will all definitely be useful for your future.


 Vigars Kaktinieks
Energy, agriculture, finance, Energo Capital
Country: Latvia
Year of graduation: 2004

What makes SSE Riga unique and distinguishes it from other business schools?
Quality;
International students and professors;
Comparably small number of students.
Which was the most useful course in SSE Riga and why?
Hard to say one. I would say a mixture of financial and management courses.
If I was to choose just one, than it would be the accounting courses.
What is one important thing you learned at SSE Riga?
To handle a large amount of information.
What does it take to be a successful SSE Riga student?
To study enough to be successful (when needed – a lot; when not – then study less). And not stress out too much.
What did you enjoy the most during your time in SSE Riga?
The fact that I was able to persuade other students in many situations (teamwork etc).
Was it easy to find a good job after finishing your studies?
Yes. I started to work during the second half of Year 1.
Have you worked together with people from SSE Riga?
Yes. It is an advantage if some SSE Riga students work together.
Were the contacts gained at SSE Riga valuable for your career?
Yes, but some other contacts were even more valuable as SSE Riga graduates are still young.
Suggestions for potential SSE Riga students?
Enjoy the special status, but remember that only hard work in real life can deliver results, not just the fact that you graduated from SSE Riga.


 Iveta Endziņa
Marketing Manager, JSC Hanzas Maiznīcas, Food production
Country: Latvia
Year of graduation: 2004

What makes SSE Riga unique and distinguishes it from other business schools?
Highest class of professors and a unique approach towards tasks and projects, involvement in teamwork, very strict deadlines, no chance to cheat, serious discipline and very many opportunities to involve oneself in social activities.
Which was the most useful course in SSE Riga and why?
Finance. Because it taught us discipline, hard work, teamwork, how to deal with stress, and how to work under deadline pressure.
What is one important thing you learned at SSE Riga? 
Teamwork.
What does it take to be a successful SSE Riga student?
To be very eager to learn, to be hard working, to be open-minded.
What did you enjoy the most during your time in SSE Riga?
Teamwork and social activities.
Was it easy to find a good job after finishing your studies?
Rather easy in both banking and marketing.
Have you worked together with people from SSE Riga?
I have, but not with many other graduates from other industries. Two of my previous supervisors were SSE graduates, and from time to time there are partners from agencies who are SSE Riga graduates.
Were the contacts gained at SSE Riga valuable for your career?
The most valuable was my first internship, which I got thanks to alumni, and that contributed significantly to my career in marketing.
Suggestions for potential SSE Riga students?
Have a strong wish to gain the best higher education possible in the Baltic countries, think about your future opportunities and believe that these will be the best three years of your life.


 Viktors Ivanovs
Key Account Manager, Telecommunications Department, Mobile Division, Samsung Electronics Baltics
Country: Latvia
Year of graduation: 2008

What makes SSE Riga unique and distinguishes it from other business schools?
Being an SSE Riga student offers numerous advantages. The first is being surrounded by excellent people that you can learn from - not only outstanding professors, but also supportive administration and brilliant fellow students with plenty of skills to share. This lets you enjoy your studies in the cosy family-like atmosphere of a relatively small 6-floor building, where everybody knows each other and is willing to help each other. The second advantage is the real-life focus of the programme itself. Graduates of SSE Riga enter the labour market well-equipped not only with theoretical, but also with practical tools obtained during numerous course projects and internships. Lastly, the third advantage comes from the second one – specifically because graduates of SSE Riga are well-prepared for real-world business life, they are in high demand by employers and have doors open towards anything they can imagine.
Which was the most useful course in SSE Riga and why?
I found the Macroeconomics course to be the most useful, because Macro is the basis for any other economics-related course (learnt either at SSE Riga or later in another institution) and because I actually ended up using the information the most at my work. At the same time, the Financial Economics course also deserves to be mentioned here, as it was a really good tool for checking your time-management and your ability to work hard, not even mentioning the fact that very solid knowledge of Financial Economics is one of the main factors that sets SSE Riga graduates apart from graduates of other Baltic business schools.
What is one important thing you learned at SSE Riga?
The sky is the limit.
What does it take to be a successful SSE Riga student?
A passion for economics and learning new things in general, as well as the ability to do stuff on time.
What did you enjoy the most during your time in SSE Riga?
Having fun with the best people in the Baltic countries.
Was it easy to find a good job after finishing your studies?
Yes it was. As I said before, SSE Riga graduates have a “high-quality” mark in the eyes of employers.
Have you worked together with people from SSE Riga?
Yes, I worked for some time with several SSE Riga graduates in an investment bank. It was very pleasant to work with people who “speak the same language” and approach issues in a similar manner.
Were the contacts gained at SSE Riga valuable for your career?
Definitely. I believe that in addition to providing an excellent education, the human resource network is another extremely valuable asset that an SSE Riga graduate keeps for his/her entire life.
Suggestions for potential SSE Riga students?
Do not be afraid to take opportunities, and try to be happy with everything you are doing.


 Alexander Ilkun
Senior Treasury Manager - Global FX and Liquidity Risk, Moody's Corporation
Country: United Kingdom
Year of graduation: 2009

What makes SSE Riga unique and distinguishes it from other business schools?
The main difference is the attitude towards students. You will be given as much knowledge as you can handle. I don’t think you’ll ever have the feeling that you’re stalling in your academic development. The School never robs you of the opportunity to learn and grow more than average if you desire to do so.
Which was the most useful course in SSE Riga and why?
I believe the most interesting course for me was the Specialization Course in Economics lead by Edwin Dolan. We were lucky to be studying in turbulent times, when the subprime crisis was affecting the US and the Fed made unprecedented moves to save the situation. It was great to look at it through the eyes of an experienced lecturer, who taught us to understand the reasons for Fed’s actions, spotted errors in the approach of the Regulator and discussed solutions that were being implemented the very next day. Great course, hands-on experience, marvellous lecturer – don’t hesitate to go for it.
What is one important thing you learned at SSE Riga?
Stay on constant alert - to be ready to make a decision when the time is right, and trust your gut feeling when doing so.
What does it take to be a successful SSE Riga student?
Work hard, manage your time and be tolerant.
I think these things are sorted in the order of (no, not relevance as all of them are important) obviousness. The first point you’re hearing at the school every day (and if not, something has seriously changed in the school environment since I graduated). The second point, although mentioned slightly less frequently, is very important unless you want to enjoy the courtesy of the school - providing you with an overnight study opportunity. On the third point, no matter how brilliant you sincerely believe you are, it is a) very important to be an enjoyable teamwork partner as there usually is a direct correlation between good relations in the team and the end result (be careful about inversing the correlation); and b) you, most probably, will encounter some lecturers that you will like less than others, in which case take care to remember that regardless of your attitude they still have a lot to teach you. If you think otherwise, reread b) again until you fully agree with the statement.
What did you enjoy the most during your time in SSE Riga? 
I think that studying in this school in a relatively small community makes the study experience special. More than anything else, I enjoyed the company of fellow students. It was good to study in a very friendly atmosphere.
Was it easy to find a good job after finishing your studies? 
It was easy for me to find a job. I found a part-time job while studying in Year 1 and joined GE before Year 3, where I continue working now (having transferred to another role in the UK though). It was a good decision to work while studying since I gained experience as well as academic knowledge. It is a trade-off though between gaining experience and finishing with better marks. Both options have their advantages and it fully depends on your future plans, so consider carefully and choose wisely.
Have you worked together with people from SSE Riga? 
Yes, I do have an opportunity to work together with some of the SSE Riga Alumni, although honestly the subject of alma mater never came up. Despite this fact, I sincerely believe that having studied in SSE Riga is not at all a minor factor which adds to the enjoyable experience of working together.
Were the contacts gained at SSE Riga valuable for your career?
What was valuable for me is studying in the school itself. My first employer was specifically looking for a person from SSE Riga and I was lucky to be offered the position. I think that gave me a very good start.
Suggestions for potential SSE Riga students?
You won’t be the same person after studying at SSE Riga. Don’t hesitate to embrace the opportunity to grow and become better.


 Janis Deksnis
Currently enrolled in a PhD programme at the University of Frankfurtam Main, Germany
Country: Latvia
Year of graduation: 1998

What makes SSE Riga unique and distinguishes it from other business schools?
As a Latvian undergraduate, I appreciated the advantage of being at home and, at the same time, being a part of the world that is new and qualitatively different from the legacy of the old regime — both in terms of attitude, means and perspective.
Which was the most useful course in SSE Riga and why?
Probably the most difficult question here. As there are so many worthy candidates, it is next to impossible to single out a particular course. Each of them was useful at a certain phase of my career path and for the different roles undertaken. Just as fundamentals such as Econometrics have been beneficial, so has been the Business Law course, which shaped my interest in the legal discipline, and the Communication in English course, which was my first truly academic encounter with the language (my first foreign language was German) and provided a solid basis in this prime working instrument.
What is one important thing you learned at SSE Riga?
The name of the whole lesson was [to me] Taking Education Seriously, with all its manifold aspects — be it the choice of sources and tools or respect for the time and effort of others.
What does it take to be a successful SSE Riga student?
It may well be the ability to strike a sustainable balance between being an appreciated team member, on the one hand, and pursuing one's own competitive agenda, on the other.
What did you enjoy the most during your time in SSE Riga? 
The company of students whose interests and way of thinking could be called rather unconventional and not standard for a typical business school.
Was it easy to find a good job after finishing your studies?
During a course project in the final semester, I got familiar with a subsidiary of a German bank. When a position became vacant soon thereafter, it wasn't long until the bank extended its offer, and I could take on the position some weeks after graduation from SSE Riga.
Have you worked together with people from SSE Riga? 
Yes. It has been a valuable experience for me personally. Besides, the employers seemed to benefit from significant efficiency gains, as it always makes difference when the people involved in a project or process find themselves on the same page.
Were the contacts gained at SSE Riga valuable for your career?
Yes. Just like having similarly-minded colleagues in a building, interacting with counterparts represented by an alumnus is a preferred scenario that makes it much easier to get straight to business without spending time on formalities and self-evident trivia.
Suggestions for potentialSSE Riga students?
Enjoy this opportunity! You will not regret time spent at SSE Riga.


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