Magnetic MRO’s Sales Team Lead Eigirdas Keblikas is known to his colleagues at the Vilnius office as the man who is both capable at training newcomers and managing his team, as well as being the one-stop destination for all of any basketball-related questions that one might have.
As he’s about to embark on another important journey that will take him to lead the Spare Parts business unit at Magnetic’s soon-to-be-opened Malaysian office, our Marketing and Communication Specialist Eleen Änilane sat down with him to ask a few questions about his time in the company and what it means to work on the business side of aviation.
Eleen Änilane: Eigirdas, you’ve been in the company for three years, am I correct? I know you’ve had quite a ride in Magnetic MRO, can you tell me a little about the time when you started here?
Eigirdas Keblikas: Yes, it’s going to be 3 years next month.
EÄ: Wow, congrats!
EK: Thanks! I guess I’m one of the lucky ones because I’ve been promoted twice, or even three times if you count the latest news. I started here at the same time as my manager, our Head of Sales Gintautas Gruodis. He was the one who hired me but the story behind it is a little funny. I was on a job interview and Gintautas was sitting there in complete silence without asking any questions. Afterwards, when I had learned that they liked me and wanted to discuss some final details with me in the office, I found out that Gintautas is going to be my manager. I remember thinking to myself how strange it is – he didn’t even ask any questions. And then they told me that he had also just joined the company – two weeks before I did – so it all made perfect sense.
EÄ: So you’ve had the chance to grow with him by your side?
EK: Yes, I’m very thankful to him for all the lessons he’s given me. There are so many challenges we have gone through together and we’ve created strong connection which helps to grow and improve every day. He is still my manager but, from that time, I’ve changed my position twice. I started as a Sales Manager. Or, well the position was officially “Customer Support Manager” but in reality I dealt with sales. After a year, I became Senior Sales Manager, which meant that I started to work with bigger deals and train newcomers. And after another year, I became the Sales Team Lead and created my own team. Currently I have five members in the team that I train. I’m responsible for training them, I manage them, take care of them, give them feedback, etc.
EÄ: Awesome! And the third promotion that you mentioned is…?
EK: I’m actually going to Malaysia in August, to Kuala Lumpur. And I’m opening our sales office there. I will be the Head of Sales Asia, Assets and Spare Parts. We’re planning to create a sales team of 6-7 people who will, in the end, do a similar job to the one that my team does here.
EÄ: Congratulations! So it’s been a pretty big jump from the job you had three years ago to putting together your own team at the Malaysian office.
EK: Yeah I’d say the same. I really enjoy working here and moving forward quite fast. Every year there’s something new to add to my portfolio.
EÄ: I understand Magnetic MRO was your starting point in the aviation industry? It must have been a big learning experience from that perspective as well, right?
EK: Yes, definitely! I watched a lot of videos and TV shows, like ‘Aircraft Investigation’, Youtube videos, and the first year was very busy. But I enjoyed it. It’s not like I did it just for my job, it was very interesting to get to know more about aviation.
EÄ: A lot of people have told me that they’ve all become complete aviation geeks after getting their foot through the industry door. Do you feel like this is what happened to you as well?
EK: Yes, it’s definitely true. What’s different here is that on the one hand it’s nice that there’s a lot of aviation, but the other side is that there is a lot of business which is also very interesting to me. We’re selling numbers every day. We know the part number and we need to have a couple of other things, like the certificates, but everything else comes from your negotiation skills, sales skills and purchasing skills. If you look at it from that perspective, it’s a lot like working on Wall Street – it’s basically brokering. So both sides are fascinating.
EÄ: What an interesting way to look at it! I’ve never thought of it that way. Now you’re going to Asia, are you excited?
EK: Of course, it’s a big challenge! I would even say that I’m going out of my comfort zone there. But I love challenges, so that’s why I was probably offered this opportunity in the first place. So I’m very excited and didn’t need a lot of time to say yes to that.
EÄ: Sounds like you’re the right man for the job then! Can you tell me a little more about the Malaysia office? What are the main challenges that you’re going to face there?
EK: Asia is a little different – or well, not even a little bit, but a lot. We’ve been trying to do business with Asia from here but it’s nearly impossible because the culture is different – they like to meet the people and see things physically, and you could arrange something only after a couple of meetings. To work through emails or phones is really hard, almost impossible. That was the main reason why we needed an office there. The market is huge and it’s growing at double the speed compared to other regions, so we want to get more business from that side.
The biggest challenge will probably be facing a different culture and working with people that have different mindsets. Also, it will be a new place and we will have less support than we would have working at Vilnius as there we already have an amazing team. We do, of course, receive help from our people here but it’s still different – if you’re physically within a team that has many experienced professionals, you’ll get the assistance and know-how you need more easily. Over there, you need to start from zero. I guess the first six months will be quite challenging because we need to train and hire new people – however, I think that once we have a team, it will definitely become much easier.
EÄ: You sound like you really enjoy what you do for a living, but everyone knows it’s healthy to have a hobby or something else that keeps your mind fresh and helps you unwind. I know you’re an avid basketball player. Is that something you use to get your mind off work?
EK: This is correct. I actually just came back from a basketball tournament in Kiev yesterday.
EÄ: Wow, so you’re on a competing level!
EK: Yes, I’m still playing for my university team and we’re playing in League A in Vilnius, which is the highest amateur league here. I was in Kiev with a team that was put together from the best amateur players of Lithuania to compete with the best European amateur teams. We had the finals in Kiev and I spent the whole weekend there.
EÄ: Amazing! So how did you do?
EK: We got the third place and I had a lot of fun. Basketball is in my blood and I can’t do anything about that (laughs). Even now when work is number one in my life, I can say with certainty that basketball is on the second place.
So the instances do happen where I’m a little stressed at work and there are a lot of things on my mind, and once I get off work I’m still checking my emails or planning my day for tomorrow. But once I go to practice, I’m taking the ball in my hands and work is out of my mind. Gone! That’s it. It’s really relaxing. I think that any sport is very helpful to people for having more energy at work.
EÄ: Are there any other basketball players in the office?
EK: Actually, one of my other team members has also played basketball pretty much since his childhood. We have a tournament here in Lithuania every winter for aviation companies, and 6-7 people from our office usually take part. So there are even more people who enjoy playing it. But the colleague and me – we’re serious about it (laughs). I don’t think I’m overreacting when I say that we talk about basketball every day in the office, even if it’s just a few sentences about the latest news in the basketball world.
EÄ: I see that you really cherish and respect your team. What else do you enjoy about your job?
EK: Probably the fact that it’s very demanding. Every day is a new day and you never know what’s going to happen. You go to work and start with your emails and it’s impossible to predict what you will receive that day. It’s an amazing industry and you meet amazing people and have an opportunity to travel, to see new cultures. Also, you get the opportunity to work kind of independently, to have your own budget and see the results quite easily because it’s all easily measurable. All in all, I love to have strong and very active people around me with whom I can compete and learn a lot. I love to be part of the dream team.
EÄ: It feels like you actually even love your job.
EK: If somebody would have asked me a few years ago what I would imagine my dream job to be like, I would have described the work that I currently do. This really is a dream job. We have a very nice office here in Vilnius, you can see the whole city from here. And we are working in what is probably the best industry in the world. I have an opportunity to make really big deals, work with aviation industry leaders, and, most importantly, every day I’m part of our dream team who I really enjoy working together with. So I wouldn’t know what more to expect. I would just like to take this opportunity to thank our manager Gintautas Gruodis, Sales process supervisor Vitalija Pachomova and the rest of Sales warriors in the Vilnius office without whom we wouldn’t be where we are now. I’m sure we’ll keep improving and moving forward together for even bigger achievements.