Simonas Lisauskas: Smart organizations invest in people and values

Simonas Lisauskas completed the BMI International Executive MBA very successfully in 2019. He is now a Member of the Board and Director of the Commercial Sales Department at Lietuvos Draudimas AB, the largest insurance company in the Baltics. We spoke with Simonas about his own and his company’s rising trajectory and how that relates to management studies and to community networks like BMI alumni.

What impact did the EMBA have on your career?

When I decided to join BMI, I was a regional sales manager responsible for more than 200 insurance agents. The excellent results of the managed division and the strong team encouraged the search for new innovative ways to strengthen further sales growth and profitability. This created a need for me to grow as a leader and strengthen my competencies both at the management and strategic levels. And that’s what I found at BMI.

A major positive impact you get from BMI is the community of people with experience from different industries. It’s one thing to sit in your organization behind closed doors, and another when you share experience with the other participants and alumni during the study modules and so on. You listen and you share your own experience too, and you get new perspective, new inspiration.

Above all what BMI gives students is a structure for thinking – you learn what you have to keep in mind in order to be successful. There was a good balance across the areas of business. For me, getting a deep understanding of corporate governance was especially valuable.

In any case, now I see that BMI was a time of transformation for me to move forward to the next position. Already during the EMBA studies I took steps. First, I became the Commercial Sales Department director sales and then as well a Member of the Board.

What is your company’s attitude towards BMI studies?

BMI is a bright example of how our company invests in our top employees. We have seven board members and four of them are alumni of the BMI International Executive MBA. Two other department directors have also completed BMI studies, moreover this year I am sending two of my direct subordinates from middle management to deepen their knowledge and develop crucial skills at BMI.

In the insurance industry (it is a very structured and precise business), we know how to evaluate the return on investment and potential benefits, especially when it comes to costs, efficiency and so on. Well, with BMI we see a positive return on investment. It is not just about giving attention to our best and potential employees to keep them in the organization. These people get a lot of experience and bring it all back, with new passion and energy, with drive to build something new, innovative which can be developed from concentrated both academic and business perspective.

Our organization is one of the oldest in Lithuania, with decades of accumulated experience. Last year we celebrated 100 years. Once a government company, we evolved gradually over the years into a modern international company. We continue constantly changing and we are leaders in the insurance market. That is because the company does not stop improving and moving. We continue to look forward at our company also from the point of view of the continuous development of digitalization, which would create the best customer experience in the insurance market.

What would you say are BMI’s advantages over other business schools?

First, the eagle-eye view of what you have to know in successful management of a company.

Second, BMI gives you more international experience. You learn from and with people from Paris, Shanghai, Columbia, and so on. You can compare what is happening in other countries and see what opportunities that means for your own company.

And at BMI, the level of participants is different. What you get above all is top managers. One doubt I had about BMI was whether I’d fit in, since I was in middle management. The guys I knew who had finished BMI were at a totally different level. But when I started, I was happy to find that the people at BMI were very open minded.

Do you stay in touch with your former classmates?

We have a very good relationship. At least three or four times a year we meet up – to share experience, to get breakfast, have dinner parties and so on. To have valuable connections, you do have to invest some of your time, yes. But the other people also invest time in you, and it really pays off. It’s a very effective system.

What has kept you at Lietuvos Draudimas for so many years?

What keeps me in this organization is its very creative culture. If you have an idea you want to implement, you have all the tools to do that. Sure, if it requires big money, you have to make a business case. However, you can do that very quickly and with the all help and support. We take employees and we invest in them. That helps us to grow strong people and to change. Additionally, I am fascinated by the company’s stance on integration into society and sharing success. We have various social initiatives that contribute to the welfare of society, such as first aid training, free insurance for schoolchildren, and support for Ukraine or doctors during the Covid pandemic.

I’ve been with LD for more than 11 years. This was my first full-time job after my bachelor’s degree. I started as an assistant data analyst and gradually I have advanced through five or six different positions. In fact, whenever I start a new position, I feel like I am in a new job. Because the people change, your responsibilities change, the challenges change, and you have a lot to learn.

What are your biggest motivators? Career? Something else?

Career is important for me, yes, in the sense that it is the path of my life. However, a career in itself was never a goal for me. I always try to do my duties properly with an extra step; it gives me a sense of completion and satisfaction. This approach and the work I did helped me to be visible in the organization and to make a career where I was most needed and where I could create additional value. The target is being motivated, having a great team, which I can trust and together move forward seeking for ambitious goals. I am very pleased that company trusted me in the path of my career.

Maybe it sounds like a cliche, but for me it is very important that the values of the company match your own. If you have different values than your company, you will not move forward or your progress will be very limited.

If my employees understand values differently than the organization, I even encourage them to break off and move on. It’s vital not just to declare values, but to embed them in the culture and promote them at all levels of the organization.

We invest a lot in that. Smart and sustainable organizations have to invest not only in declaring their values, but also in keeping them up to date and making people understand how to apply them in their everyday work.

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