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Lolita Jekabsone
Head of Learning & Development
by Jake Liban Pezzack

"I've always tried to strike a balance between the creative and mathematical sides of my personality. You wouldn't think it, but they complement each other quite well."

Cultivating her skill set across a breadth of businesses, Lolita Jekabsone has led a vast professional career with an impressive scope. Beginning her work life in hospitality, Lolita found her footing in the field of Public Relations, before eventually moving into the educational sphere. Mastering the art of three sectors, she speaks passionately about the need for adaptability in a balanced working life.

"The ability to change is so important. You can't ever remain stagnant. You need to be open to the process of learning. That's how you progress."

From managing the entertainment acts of a cruise liner, to overseeing the project management of Latvia's State Forests, Lolita has acclimated herself to a wide variety of working environments, and achieved success across each and every one. Following our interview, I was struck by the suitability of her experience in relation to her role. One couldn't envisage a more appropriate leader in the development and learning industry.
After completing her Master's degree in Public Relations, Lolita decided to enter the world of corporate business, landing a training coordinator role with 4Finance in 2015.

"When I completed my studies, I began looking for a job that demanded more in the way of cross-functional work. I wanted to be in a position that would allow me to lead and organise in a more executive capacity."

Owing to a string of personal successes, Lolita was promoted to the head of 4Finance's L&D department in 2018. Her accolades came to the attention of EXANTE's recruitment team, and soon Lolita was offered the opportunity to head our Learning & Development department.

"The possibility to create something from scratch really roused me. Since joining, my team and I have created virtual onboarding and induction plans for newcomers, as well as an exciting array of upcoming projects and initiatives."
How do you feel EXANTE champions and supports their female employees?
If you have the skills, the knowledge and the personality, anything is possible. At EXANTE, women occupy bold positions. We have voices, and ultimately, we are the change. Half of our management teams are populated by women, but I still appreciate the fact that EXANTE privileges expertise above all else. It doesn't matter if you wear pants or a skirt. If you're good at what you do, that's all that really counts.
Tell us more about your current role. What excites you most about working for EXANTE?
I'm currently working as EXANTE's head of L&D. It's a creative role that allows me to be analytical. I focus on developing our workforce's capabilities, as well as their practical skill levels. My job is to create an environment where that learning and development is possible. I inspire people to better themselves, creating impactful programs that incentivise people to grow and change. An intelligent assortment of people makes for a great working environment!
Is there a particular achievement or accomplishment you're been most proud of?
In the four months since I joined, we've launched the Induction and Learning plan. This scheme provides interactive support to new starters who wish to understand our business, products and culture.
How do you think we can incentivise more women to pursue careers in the FinTech sector?
Lead by example.
What have been some of the most challenging aspects of your career? How did you surmount those obstacles?
Whilst working for Lavian State Forest, I launched an educational program about forest management called "Pigsmans Detectives" (2014). At the International Union of Forest Research Organisations, the scheme was acknowledged as one of the top 10 programs in Global Competition. I was really proud of that.

Whilst working for 4Finance, I built an award-winning program that facilitated peer-to-peer learning processes. More significantly, I did it with no budget. Some of my colleagues discouraged me. I had my doubts, but with aspiration comes trepidation. So I took a step back. I looked to the analysis and data, and asked myself a simple question: what would I do if I knew that I could guarantee success? This perspective gave me the necessary confidence to build the program. Trust your instincts. Take risks, but make sure they're smart. The road is never flat - there are always ups and downs. Learn to be humble when you are up, and hopeful when you are down.
Who or what has been the principal guiding force in your work life?
I'm empowered by people and their stories of aspiration. Leaders, athletes, artists, business people, friends… I love to see how passion and discipline combine.
Who are some of your heroes?
To be honest, I don't have a list of heroes. As I mentioned before, there are so many people who inspire and enthuse me. I guess it just depends on the situation. I couldn't narrow down my selections!
What is something that people usually get wrong about you?
I'm a very cheerful and bubbly person. I smile a lot; I laugh a lot. The unfortunate upshot is that people sometimes think I don't take things seriously. I do. To be happy is a choice. When I wake up in the mornings, I clap my hands and say: today is going to be a great day!
What advice would you give to ambitious young women starting out in their careers?
Be humble, be brave, dream big. Use data to make your point, always ask for feedback, do things you have never done before. Challenge yourself, find an inspiring mentor, and ask yourself: what would you do if you knew that failure was impossible?