“The listening leader”

Erki Pogoretski, Head of Customer and Business Analytics at Telia in Estonia

Continuous learning is key for a telco to stay relevant. And Erki Pogoretski’s job is to listen to customers and constantly fuel our business development with new insights. He is Head of Customer and Business Analytics at Telia in Estonia.

“Business analytics has changed a lot in the last few years. In the past, analytics was a reactive service that provided answers to specific questions asked by the organization. Today, we are working like a business unit, proactively generating insights that add value to the rest of the company. In essence, we are trying to find the data and insights that will inspire people at Telia to make better decisions. New insights also bring new meaning to work and it fuels the spirit of our teams. Leading this unit is all about making sure that we have a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing. Staying ahead of the game, also means that I need to encourage everyone to find the relevant insights, but also to explore completely new areas. And we need to turn our insights into reality faster than ever before.”

Dare to fail

“In this agile world, struggling with a problem for too long, can easily become a pain. As a leader, I try to prevent individual struggling. If there is a delay in a project, I quickly relocate the task to someone else who can look at the challenge with new eyes and perspectives. With this approach, the project flow and momentum are maintained. It is about allowing failure, but it is even more about understanding who in the team is best suited to solve the problem.”

It’s all about the question, not the answers

“Today, all our competitors and other digital companies that take an interest and listen to their customers, have similar types of data. Basically, everyone has all the data and answers. So, to create value you need to focus on the right questions and listen carefully to get the right answers. Those are key to understand how to identify new, unique insights that will benefit our business.”

Leaving room for people to grow

“As a leader, I am probably pretty demanding, and everyone in my teams knows that I want us to exceed expectations, go beyond the ordinary and find answers that are truly unique. Many find this ambition inspiring in itself, but I still make sure that I am a listening and supportive leader that give people a lot of room to grow. I am here to help and support, but I don’t go into details, because they are much better at solving concrete challenges than I am. My recipe for good leadership is about spending time with the team and with the individuals. I strive for an open dialogue, which is my way of building trust. I set aside a lot of time to talk one-on-one with everyone.“

Increasing demand for customer and business analytics

“The insights we deliver really makes a difference in the decision-making process, and our work is in high demand from all over the organization. We work with agile methods and the latest tools, but more importantly, we learn new things every day, and by sharing it with the whole organization we can meet and exceed the expectations from our customers.”

Seeing the bigger picture

“We use the best tools available, but we don’t stop there. We have also built a Telia-unique methodology around them to help us securing that we know that the project have:

The right task definition
The right timeline
The right tools
The right staffing
The right mind-set

With the right methods, tools and structures, we can identify the right insights that will give us a competitive edge.”

Embracing mistakes

“Finally, celebrating failure does not come naturally to people or organizations. You need to reposition failure as an opportunity for important learnings, growth and development. As a leader, I am here to boost people’s confidence to try new things and pick them up when we experience setbacks.”

Being great at listening is a key success factor in today’s business. We need to understand what our customers want from us to offer great experiences. But to us at Telia, we also listen a lot to each other to make sure we grow as individuals and as teams. Our leaders take great responsibility for understanding how we can develop and become even better – so to succeed in the future, we all need to be really good listeners.

My key advice to other leaders

  1. Listen to customers
  2. Listen to your team
  3. Listen to yourself
  4. Empower your team to make things happen

Facts

Education

I have an exam in international tourism.

Life before Telia

I started out in the hotel business, using data to optimize sales and occupancy. Later on, I led the analytics and revenue teams at Tallink Group, the ferry company.

Life outside work

I try to do as little as possible; I just want to have time to think. If I feel I have to do something, I get on my bike for a few hours or listen to a podcast.

Family

I am married with two kids and we have a dog.

Something you didn´t know about me

Due to a complicated Finnish and Polish background, I didn’t get my Estonian citizenship until 2004, although I was born here.