Name: Leena Kivisild
Phone: +372 5664 2531
I hold bachelor degree (1988) from Tallinn University and MBA degree (2001) from Tartu University. I obtained a profession as a holistic regression therapist from the Holistic Institute (2019).
In the periods 1992-2006 and 2009-2010, I worked at the leading Estonian training company Invicta as a sales and marketing manager, CEO and trainer. The most enriching periods during Invicta have been related to the development of training and consulting products, including the establishment of a competency assessment center (360-degree method) and the development of a Masterclass training program for emotional intelligence in senior management.
In 2006-2009 I worked as the development manager of the sheet metal processing company Frog Group OÜ, as CEO of the design company Roller Leiutised OÜ and as the export manager of Kalev Chocolate Factory AS.
In 2010, I established Brightminds, which offers value in two directions: developing team development programs, mostly based on the ‘Learning Journey’ concept I created, and offering a My Growth Path service to individuals who want to gain better self-understanding, happier relationships or change in self-realization with the help of a professional partner.
I am a member of the Estonian Personnel Management Association, the Estonian Association of Business and Professional Women, the Estonian Holistic Regression Therapy Society and the International Association of Regression Therapists (EARTh).
Balance lost is part of a balanced life.
That’s what the Balinese say, and it’s a pearl of wisdom that’s mostly associated with love. It’s become my motto, covering every aspect of life. Striving to live a harmonious life in which we have everything we need – materially, intellectually and aesthetically – is something I think we all do naturally.
But the most enriching moments in our lives, and the ones which truly drive us forward, are when we lack the things we need, be they love, skills, energy, money or something else entirely. Those moments act like an injection of fuel that sees us striving for harmony even more assiduously. The wisdom of the Balinese taught me to view moments of lost balance as a normal and even necessary part of life. Whenever I find myself feeling off-balance, I accept and indeed welcome it as an opportunity to learn, since I know that change is coming and that things will get better in the longer term. Anticipation replaces fear, my confidence rises, ideas and solutions materialise from goodness knows where and I’m imbued with the strength to keep moving towards the harmony I’m seeking. I’m grateful for everything life throws at me – the good bits and the bad bits.
I have a lot to thank my family for. My parents come from different national backgrounds. From the moment I was born I was surrounded by two cultures: Estonian and Russian. This has brought a lot more light and shade into the way I view life, shown me that the question of identity is far from being black and white and made me realise that there are things there’s no point labelling as good or bad, but that they should simply be accepted as they are.
My sensitivity and temperament I’ve inherited from my mother, while my curiosity and assertiveness come from my father. I was a child my parents wanted to have, and very much loved. Looking back, I’m also grateful for the lessons I had no choice but to learn when my parents divorced. The bubble of my childhood burst in an instant, and I was forced to confront trust issues for years, even decades, after the fact. But the love of my parents has supported me every step of the way.
One of the ‘quirks’ I’m known for is that I’m constantly learning. When I left school I had a clear goal: I wanted to go on to study choreography, since I really loved dancing. It was such a luxury to be able to choose a profession based solely on what I was drawn to! At what was then Tallinn Pedagogical Institute (now Tallinn University) I studied under the legendary Mait Agu, whose dedication and talent were a huge source of inspiration. He instilled in all of his students a belief that anything was possible if you were serious about it. I never became a choreographer in the end, because when Estonia regained its independence, it threw open the doors to new and even more enticing opportunities.
One was to set up the training company Invicta, where Mihkel Pärjamäe and I started from nothing in 1991. I learnt how to sell, how to market, how to manage and how to set goals. Taking the company’s British owners as my example to follow, I soon gained a useful insight into managing a company, motivating a team and planning success. Shortly thereafter I also started training others in service, sales and management, and eventually took up the post of CEO.
But the thing I enjoyed most was developing new training and consultation products and leading projects that were on the more complex side. I liked taking ideas and turning them into values, breaking through barriers in the process. I liked having the freedom to create things. The 17 years I spent with the company were a time of self-discovery that taught me, among other things, to let go – something that comes much more easily when you create things and fall in love with what you create.
It was during this period that I earned my MA in Business Management from the University of Tartu. My final thesis focussed on the development of training products, with Invicta as my case study. I’m really happy Invicta’s still going strong, despite life leading me down a different path.
When the recession struck in 2007, it hit me while I was working in the production sector. I was the development manager for the sheet metal manufacturers Frog Group OÜ and the CEO of its subsidiary Roller Leiutised OÜ, which developed furniture for public space. Having worked in the field of training for so long, this was like diving into the deep end of a pool full of very cold water – instantly sobering, it forced me to mobilise all of my forces.
The financial crisis was merciless in the changes it wrought, and as a result I found myself taking up the post of export manager for the Kalev chocolate factory. My time there was cut short, however, when Invicta asked me to return to my roots. I couldn’t resist the temptation of developing ideas and concepts in an area I knew like the back of my hand, but the challenge this time was driving the company forward in the middle of a recession. I was soon to learn the biggest lesson this period in my life gifted me.
I was back in a company where everything was safe and familiar, but I was now seeing things from a new perspective and looking to do things differently. This led to uncertainty, and uncertainty led to doubt. I wasn’t satisfied with the situation, but nor could I see a way out of it – how I could make something of myself in a way that both made me happy and put food on the table. I was off-balance. And then, at a critical juncture, I had the proverbial light bulb moment: the clarity to draw a line under my time at Invicta and set up my own business. I should stress that this decision was entirely an emotional one: I spent no time analysing it. I had no plan. I was acting on instinct, and instinct was telling me to shut that door and open a new one.
It was an enormous relief. I’d been running pretty much on empty, and the decision revitalised me, giving me the energy I needed to channel into my own company – Brightminds OÜ. That was 2010. Thinking back on it now, I’m reminded of my colleague Mihkel’s words: “Make the big decisions in your life with your heart and the small ones with your head.” I’d learned that in going back to something, be it a workplace or a relationship, you can never fully restore what you had before, but have to build up something new.
For me, Brightminds means the freedom to truly show the world who I am and what I’m capable of. At the age of 44, when I started running my own business, I knew my strengths and weaknesses, but more importantly than that, I knew what interested me and kept my batteries fully charged: the freedom to decide what I spend my time on. I suddenly had time to think about things and take a proper look at myself. This sorted the wheat from the chaff where my priorities were concerned and cemented my values, all thanks to me having the time to dedicate to myself.
I firmly believe that taking time out for yourself is vital if you want to connect to what it is you truly need, which in turn points you in the direction you have to take if you want to create a life of balance and satisfaction. I admit that in my professional life these days I choose my clients, projects and partners very carefully, and the same principle applies in who I surround myself with in my private life.
Self-seeking (in the good sense) and interest in my personal development led me back to school in 2015. This time it was the Holistics Institute, which I graduated from in 2019 as a qualified holistic regression therapist. It completely changed my understanding of how to effectively influence your personal development.
The years I spent studying at the institute saw me grow, and I added methods to my tool kit that involve the physical, emotional, spiritual and energetic aspects of a person in their development. Now I’m able to work both my previous experience and the new skills and insights I gained at the institute into my everyday work with people and companies. It’s the sort of thing I thrive on!
To me, pairing your attempts to achieve practical success with an awareness of what’s going on inside you creates the best combination if you want to feel balanced and live life to the full. Successful organisations have been there and done that, which is why they foster the professional and personal development of their employees simultaneously.
Today, Brightminds operates along two main lines, each of which supports the other. The first is consulting in the field of smart learning and implementing learning-journey projects. The Learning Journey is a model I’ve developed for organisations which gives the people who work in them the ‘space’ they need to learn from and with one another. It doesn’t so much answer the question of what to study, but how to study. So I’ve become a smart learning consultant.
I also organise traditional but tailor-made classroom courses in cooperation with local trainers (including Dmitri Volov, Margus Alviste, Margus Esnar, Jaanus Kangur) and colleagues abroad, conduct job satisfaction surveys and both develop competence models and assess competences using the 360-degree method.
The other area I focus on is people’s growth paths, consulting those who feel off-balance and like they’re stuck in a rut and who want to achieve more, whether that be in their personal relationships, in understanding themselves better or in making something of their lives. I work in Estonian, Russian and English.
What the two lines I operate along have in common is that they’re not primarily about passing on knowledge, but creating an environment that supports development within an organisation and within individuals themselves. This means everyone involved sharing their ideas and experience, generating trust and truly listening. Inducing change in this way is a longer process, and one in which you have to be prepared to assume responsibility for the change.
I’m a mother to a son and a grandmother to a wonderful granddaughter, and I’m in a happy relationship. My life experiences include instigating a divorce and also finding out how it feels to have someone break up with you. In the past I spent a number of years alone, if not lonely. What I earn I principally spend on studying and travelling, both of which serve the same purpose: working my way towards the ‘real me’.
I am a member of the Estonian Personnel Management Association, the Estonian Association of Business and Professional Women, the Estonian Holistic Regression Therapy Society and the International Association of Regression Therapists EARTh.
People, and the mysteries hidden away inside them, are my passion. I’m fascinated by the dichotomies of human nature, like autonomy vs dependence, safety vs risk-taking, innovation vs conservativeness, togetherness vs solitariness, thirst for power vs acquiescence, the need to be loved vs indifference, maturity vs childishness, happiness vs sadness, empathy vs self-centredness, enjoyment vs self-denial and aggression vs the victim mentality.
There’s a complex world inside us all, and although that complexity is something we automatically bring into our relationships and working life, we also bring beauty and harmony. For development to occur, you need another person, another relationship. In my everyday life and day-to-day work I try to create a space in which people are free to share the world that’s inside them and to really, properly listen to one another. That way, they’re able to experience growth and move towards their goals.
Thank you for reading my story.
The Learning Journey differs significantly from the usual classroom trainings and is a good opportunity to put people in different positions in the company work together and find solutions to problems. Involving mentors helps to transfer existing knowledge and experience. The share of independent work is high, but the result is so much better.