Organizing genius and master manager Arita Bērziņa is our Chief Operations Officer (COO). She takes care of internal global projects, implementing the yearly action plan, as well as managing projects, organizing and delegating tasks to the Bloom Consulting team.
On the contrary to what you might expect from such a demanding and serious role, Arita’s personality is very colorful and warm. In this interview, she reveals more of herself through professional and personal experiences, sharing what is meaningful and relevant to her.
10 years ago, you did an internship at Bloom Consulting. How did you find your way back here?
Thanks to the ERASMUS internship at Bloom Consulting, and an excellent letter of recommendation from Jose Filipe Torres, I spent a long time working for the Investment and Development Agency of Latvia. One day, Jose approached me, offering to become a Partner at D2 – Analytics, the research and analytics company of Bloom Consulting. Although I truly enjoyed my previous job in marketing Latvia as a tourism destination, I agreed because becoming a company partner seemed like a big challenge and very important for my growth. Plus, I liked the management style and the team. So, I started as a Partner and Marketing Manager at D2 – Analytics. Two years later, after the merger, I changed roles and became the COO of Bloom Consulting. And here we are.
What is your way of working here at Bloom Consulting?
I very much enjoy the hands-on way of doing things. My task is to make our goals come true, ensure that Bloom Consulting functions smoothly and constantly evolves. It involves coming up with new solutions, looking for and testing ways to improve processes and do better. I am very proactive; I like to think of tasks for myself and the team. In this respect, I need a great deal of freedom and trust from management, which I greatly appreciate here at Bloom Consulting.
What are you currently working on?
I oversee more than 40 annual Bloom Consulting internal global projects, so everyday life is very dynamic. There is no “one thing” I work on. I’m frequently switching from one project to another. For example, the new brand identity and website, SEO, e-mail campaigns, internal newsletters, the internship program, human resources, project management, internal processes, materials, systems, etc.
How demanding is it, to be a COO?
It’s more complicated than it might seem, especially in a remote work environment with an international team. Different personalities, beliefs, characters, ways of doing things, and even time zones (the time difference between Brazil and Latvia is six hours). It’s all a massive bonus in the Nation Branding field, but at the same time, a challenge for the Global Project Manager. It’s all about finding balance and compromises. But without any doubt, this is a fantastic experience for me, both as a professional and a person. I love being here.
What are your three tips for good project management?
For a manager:
- Be patient.
- Don’t take things personally.
- Don’t try to do it on your own.
For everyone in the team:
- Just do it!
- Brick by brick.
- We’re all grown-ups here.
My favourite book is Atomic Habits by James Clear. I think that says a lot about me. I’m very interested in how to boost one’s productivity and energy. I believe that we can achieve much more in any area by focusing on “small things” (atomic habits) – the things we do on a daily and frequent basis. We move closer to our big goals by taking small and specific steps. We must have a clear idea, a good plan, and go for it until it’s achieved. For example, if the goal is to read more often, set a goal of “I’ll read five pages every day” instead of “I’ll read the book when I’ll have more time”. Big goals are difficult to cling to. And we all like to procrastinate when we face difficult projects. But detailed and small tasks seem ok; one only needs to have discipline. And this is the secret:
Discipline, not motivation, brings us closer to victory!
Like sports centers are full of people after New Year’s Eve but empty in summer. Those who stay there all year are in the best shape. Brick by brick. This theory, combined with the theory of “1% better every day”, I really like, and try to weave into both my professional and private life.
Do you apply the same principles to managing your life that you do to projects?
I’m a bit messier in my private life. I’m more spontaneous and easy-going, not that focused on results, and less productive. But yes, many things are the same. I’m loyal, trustworthy, proactive, a bit stubborn, and direct. I like to plan things. I’m very talkative and an extravert who also enjoys being alone.
How do you deal with situations when things are not going according to your plan?
Honestly? Really badly.
I prefer when everything goes according to my plan. No, really, it may sound weird, but I put so much energy and passion into my work that I feel bad if things don’t go as planned. I always work like it’s my own company. I care a lot. If I develop something, I believe it’s the best option we have, and it’s hard to convince me otherwise. One needs very rational and reasonable arguments to do so.
What does Country Branding mean to you?
I love Bloom Consulting’s concept of the Place Branding Central Idea. That there is this core feeling about each country or place. It is what we feel and think whenever we hear the name… France, Australia, Ukraine, the USA or any other country or place on Earth. You can’t just read/hear those names; you’ll immediately have associations. And then, I love traveling and testing if those concepts in my mind are true or not.
Which country would you most like to work with and why?
I would love to work with the three Baltic countries (Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia) to improve the region’s branding. Why? Because, firstly, I’m from Latvia. And secondly, I believe so many stereotypes and misconceptions exist that are not aligned with reality. We are great countries, with many intelligent and talented people, beautiful nature, unique traditions, such progress since regaining independence, etc. If we talk about stereotypes, I believe we’re much more like “Scandinavians” than “Eastern Europeans”. A hidden gem. I would love to tell everyone about this.
Would you consider yourself a creative person?
Not many people know that I finished art school with top grades when I was a teen. I started in kindergarten when my teachers noticed my talent and then, for over ten years, I spent many evenings after school at art classes. I was very talented. But to be honest, I haven’t done much to improve lately, although I would like to. At one point, I wanted to become an interior designer. But then, somehow, life just flows and throws you into various experiences you never expected. I just went with the flow in that sense. And enjoyed the journey.
What motto do you live by and would want to share with others?
I don’t remember the exact words, but I remember the idea. Latvia’s former president, a very charismatic and inspiring woman, Ms Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga, once said that if you do something, you should strive to do it excellently – otherwise, it’s not worth doing. I ask myself this question all the time. For me, it has nothing to do with being perfect. It is much more. It’s about doing the best that you can in every moment. Even if you feel down and even if your maximum is someone else’s minimum. Meanwhile, don’t compare yourself to others, just yourself, and always do as well as possible. Otherwise, why do it at all, right? So that when this all comes to an end, you’ll never have to think that you could have done better. You’ll know that you did everything you could, and this was your best life.
If you would describe your personality from one of your friends’ viewpoints, what would it be?
Every person sees us very differently, based on the things we have been through together. If you’d ask what I think of myself, I’d say I’m very critical of myself, but at the same time very confident. I’m emotional, but at the same time very rational, etc. I’m full of contrasts. I’m both. But most of all, I try to be a good person. If you’d ask my daughter, she’d say that mom is good, funny, and kind. If you’d ask my husband, he’d probably say that I talk a lot, I’m a bit lazy, funny and a great road trip planner and partner. My parents would say I’m stubborn and honest but also kind and intelligent. If you spoke to my boss, I guess he’d tell you that I’m a perfectionist, good at planning, systematic thinking, etc. If you spoke with my friends, I’m guessing they would tell you that I’m a good friend, emotional, empathic, trustworthy, understanding, and someone you can talk to about everything. But 15 years ago, it would have been about parties and experiences. It’s so interesting.