Stefan Sarbu, Head of Market Engineering at Starship, an autonomous parcel robot company, has been working in Estonia for nearly 9 years. In today’s interview, you can read about what brought Sarbu to Estonia, what factors are particularly attractive for foreign talent in Estonia and how Starship’s multicultural working environment works.
You have been working in Estonia for a pretty long time. What brought you to Estonia?
It’s been a while. I got an offer at Ericsson and came in as a software developer in 2013. I didn’t know much about Estonia, like most people coming here, but I was at a point in my life when I wanted a change. I had never been to Northern Europe before, and this was an excellent chance to explore and see a few more cities. And nine years later, I just built my house over here, and I have a family with a one-year-old son. So I guess it’s been more than just a tiny adventure, and I’ve decided to make Estonia my home.
How did you end up in Estonia? Why have you decided to work in Estonia?
I wasn’t looking for any job offers, but I was head-hunted. Once I started looking into Estonia, the urge to explore the area grew. First, I found some pictures of Estonia, but I would say that the branding of Estonia was not that good in 2013, so I had to make up my mind based on the minimal information available. However, I truly liked what I saw – lot of nature and peaceful city Tallinn. I come from a town with over 2 million people, so I was looking for something less polluted and less crowded, and Tallinn seemed like a great place.
Estonia is rather popular among IT talents and entrepreneurs. So what makes working in Estonia great?
Interesting companies, Starship especially. I enjoy the work culture as it’s very much the nordic culture, and professionalism is highly valued. The interactions at work are effortless and straightforward. In Southern Europe, you have to be much more politically involved, making things harder. However, in Estonia, everybody speaks their mind, and they do not want to hide their thoughts. Of course, it’s a bit of a cultural shock, but it makes life in general easier. You know who you can rely on.
How has the war in Ukraine affected the sense of security?
Inside Estonia, I can say that I haven’t felt any change, but, of course, everyone is worried about Ukraine, and it seems that many people in Estonia have extended relatives in Ukraine. Nevertheless, I think that friends living outside of Estonia are more worried than we are as they see us as part of Eastern Europe and neighbors of Russia, but we are continuing our life as it was before, and the business works as usual.
How do you support each other in the team, especially right now? Have you changed anything?
My team is very multicultural, and we have a lot of Ukrainians, Russians, and people from Eastern Europe. As an engineering manager, I have more frequent discussions about mental well-being as everyone has something these days to be worried, ashamed, or embarrassed about. So I want people to understand that no one blames the government’s actions on the person’s nationality. But other than that, we have not changed anything, and we continue with all the plans.
Why do you recommend coming to work in Estonia? What makes it attractive for you?
The career opportunities are outstanding here – people have a chance to work with world-class people and companies. Moreover, companies are multicultural, and you will see many different opinions and be exposed to other beliefs. And of course, Estonia, in particular, has a lot of nature; it is peaceful and quiet; it offers a reasonable cost of living, and everything is excellent, except the weather. But, on a positive note, summers and snowy winters also make up for the rather unpleasant weather.