The Faces of Magnetic MRO | Janis - Design Project Manager who runs his own bakery
Interviews & Articles
Janis Lazda is Latvian, working in Magnetic Vilnius office as DOA Project Manager – but that‘s not what‘s outstanding about him. From always-positive attitude to a not-so-secret passion for baked good, in just a few months he made himself a member of Magnetic family. Our Marketing and Communication Specialist Akvile sat down with him so we could learn more about the path that led him to aviation (spoiler alert – it was a winding road!) and what makes his every day exciting and different!
Akvile Vzesniauskaite:How long have you been part of MMRO family? What was the path that led you here?
Janis Lazda: Well, officially I am here from 1st of June – and I am saying "officially" since I have applied to other work positions at the Magnetic three times before!
AV: So, it's right to say the third time is the charm?
JL: Indeed! Both times I've applied and come for the interviews, it was for the positions, which, during the interview, we established was not the right ones for me – until the third time. One day Head of Design, Vytis, called me and invited for a chat – and from then on, everything moved pretty fast – in one week, I got the message that I can pack my stuff and move to Vilnius. So, in one month my family and I moved to Vilnius and… well, here I am!
AV: And what were you doing before joining Magnetic family?
JL: How far back do you want to go? (Laughs) In short, for the past ten years, I was mainly self-employed. I created and owned online stores – I made a lot of those. Since the very beginning, I noticed the interest in what I am doing and how I am doing it, so I sort of became an outsourced project manager and consultant, for those who want to start an e-commerce business. I was hired to create and manage online stores – I helped people from scratch and idea. So, if somebody wanted to have a store, I would take care of everything from idea development to employee training – so my clients would get a full functioning online store when I am done!
AV: Sounds demanding! Why did you change the path?
JL: At some point, I realized that I was stuck in some kind of routine and didn't enjoy what I'm doing any more. My days became grey, and the time I spent was not giving me pleasure. Also, my newborn son came into my life! That gave me stimulation that there are things that need to be changed in my life. After that, I started working in an international company in Latvia as the Head of e-commerce – and then my second child, my daughter, was born. I took the decision to go on the parental leave to raise my children – and this period ended with me joining Magnetic family! Also, while managing many online stores and still having time with my family, we established our family business – a bakery!
AV: Bakery! That sounds fun!
JL: Yes, it is – mainly it's a hobby for us – it's like playing café in your childhood – only with some responsibilities and having real cakes. We made the bakery while my wife was on maternity leave when our first child was born – that was another sign that we can't stay still and we need to move all the time – even with small kids on our hands.
AV: I always wanted to have something like a bakery or café!
JL: It's a great experience – keeping in mind that it's just a hobby, we are still growing. We have already moved to bigger premises three times – it's like a tradition third year in a row. We started with 15 sq. m with 2 employees, and now we are over 150 sq. m with 8 people team!
AV: It seems like you have a lot of things to take care of! And now even more so – learning all about aviation and engineering! Let's move back to your experience with us – did you know anything about Magnetic before joining?
JL: I knew about the company itself and business orientation – I imagined there's a lot of interesting work. And this didn't change after joining – or changed a bit: it's even more work than I expected, more demanding, and I am impressed with a lot of strict procedures about aviation itself.
AV: Does this sound like an exciting work for you? Or which are the most exciting tasks in your daily job?
JL: I think I am good with general coordination and with finances. Also, my team says that I'm always positive, open-minded and – do I even know what stress is?
I am still learning, but there's plenty of space to grow. I have a great team that helps me out daily, like Gytis, our Lead Design Engineer – actually, I have to say big THANK YOU to him! Without him, everything would be harder. Also, I need to say thanks to the whole team – I know I ask a lot of funny and "brilliant" questions daily as well as setting unbelievable deadlines – and they still try to explain to me what is what – Thanks, Guys!
When I am thinking about the biggest challenges, it's deadlines and many e-mails daily!
There's a lot of things you can't plan in workflow no matter how hard you try or how much experience you have. Things and priorities may change several times in a day - that requires big attention and quick reaction. On the other hand, it teaches to predict and avoid the same problems and mistakes for future projects – which is also really important.
And then, if thinking about exciting, it's both - aircraft configurations works and new product developments! But the team, again, plays the most important role here – I simply love being around those guys, they are real Professionals! And I'm happy I can work and joke with them together daily.
AV: It sounds like your team is rock-solid!
JL: It is! I think we are all goal-orientated and excited about the projects we are working on – and sometimes we can't share those with anyone beyond our team. Like for example with AirBaltic flag livery, when we knew beforehand that this is going to be big and amazing, but we had to keep it to ourselves. So at least we had a chance to be excited together.
AV: But at least you had your chance to shout out that this was the project you were working on – did you also use this as an example of what you do when people ask about it?
JL: Yes, precisely! Normally, people ask whether I am making planes! There are not too many people around me outside work who know much about this industry and design engineering by default, so it's common to be asked whether we manufacture planes. I guess a lot of people from here receive the same question. But then the first thing I ask them whether they had seen these AirBaltic's planes with Baltic States flags on sides – the answer most likely is "YES", and then the easiest part is to explain that my team made design visualizations and drawings after what painting team in Tallinn took care of the painting itself.
If I would try to explain to people that we are manufacturing, for example, curtain rail, nobody would understand what it really means and how much work, testings and calculations should be done from receiving purchase request till installing and releasing it on aircraft.
Well – that's not a surprise, even I didn't have any clue what it takes until I was in it…
It's actually more exciting than it may look and sound from the side!
AV: It's nice to see you're enjoying the various aspects of your work – and maintain a positive attitude!
JL: Well, I think one of the best skills in this job is being positive and knowing how to handle the stress. Gladly, I am one of those people who can handle stress very easily.
AV: And you don't have any secret recipes to keep calm?
JL: I think that's just how I am. Once my friend from Tallinn office said that "stress is for metal". So, I leave it for metal 😊.
But I also do sport and often go jogging– that helps, too. Actually, here in Vilnius, I involved my three-year-old son in jogging – and we recently did our first 2-kilometre run! Another small win.
AV: Sounds like setting a good example for your kid!
JL: Also, it sounds like a great way to discharge a very active kid in the evenings! (laughs)
AV: Smart strategy! So, since you are keeping stress away easily, you have more time to enjoy projects you are working on!
JL: That's true – and each day is different! And you never know what will happen tomorrow – even on weekends.
AV: So, what's the coolest and the most exciting project you worked on?
JL: At the moment, all projects are pretty exciting as each of them are new to me! I am getting new information and knowledge daily – and each task has interesting parts, from manufacturing processes to reports.
AV: What about the most exciting moments with your team?
JL: At the moment I would probably mention receiving the very quick response call from Vytis if I remember correctly next or the day after the interview, late in the evening, saying I can pack my things and move to Vilnius. Definitely one of the most exciting things.
But ask me this question after some more time spent here, and I am sure I will have lots of interesting stories to tell about projects and the team!
AV: At the moment, you guys are looking for people to join your team – what type of people you encourage to join you?
JL: Well – team player and "I CAN" attitude is a must for us – we are "do' ers" and we expect the same attitude from others. Intention to learn and ask for help is also a good note.
Experience is always good and appreciated – but we are always happy to teach, support and grow together.