Kotryna, Vinted’s Community Support (CS) Project Manager, knows how to get things done. She started at Vinted as a catalogue moderator and has held different positions in her 3 years with the company. Today, she’s working on taking our community support a level higher.
Tell us about your career path
I was one of the very first Vinted members. I used to spend hours browsing the catalogue and also enjoyed selling. The total amount of money that I have made and spent on Vinted is around 1,500 euros!
When I moved to Spain for my Erasmus exchange, I started looking for a remote job. Vinted was the first company that came to my mind, since I knew I wanted to work there right from the day it was launched. I applied, but to my disappointment there were no possibilities for the team in Lithuania to onboard me remotely at that time.
Once I came back to Lithuania, I applied again. This time I was successful - I joined Vinted as a catalogue moderator.
I really wanted to develop my skills. That is why whenever an opportunity appeared, I applied for more challenging roles. In less than three years, my career path took me to where I am now - CS project manager.
What, for you, is key in leadership?
I’ve recently read Michael Maccoby’s thoughts on leadership. According to him, the ideal leader is a productive narcissist. They make good leaders because they are self-confident, clearly envision where they’d like to be and, being charismatic, easily inspire others.
In my own experience, great leaders are the ones who are truly concerned with the well-being of their team members and don’t think that they themselves are most important. The team is a single unit and must work together to achieve common goals. If a manager creates a distinction between themselves and their team, I wouldn’t call them a leader. We work for our teams, not for managers.
Great leaders also express trust and demonstrate that they believe in everybody’s aim to achieve great results for their team. I feel lucky to be in a team with my manager Aurimas and learn about leadership from him. He believes in his team and takes a stand for it. I’ve never felt pressure from him, even at times when meeting goals was extremely challenging. He directs us towards achieving our goals through questions and advice. I try to do the same. When my colleagues come up with an idea, I never criticize it. Instead, I ask questions to understand where the idea comes from and challenge my team to evaluate a new suggestion on their own.
Another important thing is understanding each other. There are different perspectives, so I don’t make judgments based solely on my point of view. It is important to talk and ask questions that help understand what other people think and feel.
How do you handle mistakes?
There is nothing wrong with making mistakes, as long as we learn from them. Some people don’t question things that happen to them and move forward. I analyze why certain things occur at work or in my personal life and try to figure out how to achieve better outcomes. Sometimes I rely on other people’s advice to understand what I should have done differently.
I’ll give you one example.
When I started managing people, I was tough with my colleagues. I used to believe that nobody should question the tasks I assign. Maybe that was because I did not have previous experience of working in a company with an organisational culture as friendly as Vinted’s. I was used to a hierarchical organizational structure with little chances for anyone to voice their opinions. So I didn’t provide any explanations nor listened carefully to others’ suggestions.
Once, as campaign manager, I was preparing a presentation and needed some help from our design team. Without explaining the background, I told the designers about the outcomes I expected to see. The results were just as I expected, but I felt tension growing between me and my colleagues. I wanted to fix this situation and discussed it with Justas, Vinted’s CEO. He helped me understand how my behaviour made people less willing to collaborate. Justas suggested that instead of telling others what to do, I should ask for help. When people are told what to do, they tend to resist. Asking for help naturally increases their willingness to cooperate. Changing my style of communication wasn’t hard.
So if something doesn’t work the way I’d like it to, I experiment with new formulas.
Tell us about the principles that you follow in life
The few fundamental ones are constant development and maintaining a balance in every aspect of my life.
I surround myself with passionate and honest people who can help me become more than I currently am and I can only hope that I’m able to reciprocate. Their standards of life and values must be similar to mine. If all someone does is complain without taking steps to develop, spending time with this person will make me feel bored.
I also dedicate time for planning. I write down yearly, weekly and daily plans into a red notebook that I keep beside my bed. It feels great when I can cross out tasks I’ve accomplished and helps me to keep track of what has to be done.
What was your biggest challenge at Vinted?
Landing the position of community development manager, which has now evolved into CS project manager.
At the time I applied, I was working in another department in a temporary role of community campaign manager and, with little background in CS, I wasn’t sure whether I ought to apply. In my view, there were many other strong candidates. However, I was able to convince recruiters that I could learn and provide a valuable contribution.
I was also lucky to have been surrounded by supportive people. Milda, Vinted’s cofounder, always believed in me and encouraged me to take on new challenges. She helped me with this one as well.
Who inspires you?
People who inspire me most are my manager Aurimas and my colleague Titas .
Titas inspires and challenges me with thought-provoking questions and his dedication to self-improvement. When he finds something that could be different about himself, he works on that habit until he changes it. Unlike many, Titas concentrates on developing one habit at a time. It’s not possible to become healthy, efficient, etc. all at once. It’s so easy to find excuses for not allocating time to self-development. But there are small steps that everyone can take. For example, instead of watching TV series, I now choose TED talks.
From your point of view, what qualities help people become great at what they do?
People who achieve outstanding results go beyond expectations. They show initiative and offer help in areas outside of their direct responsibilities, instead of simply following instructions. Unknowns don’t stop them from pursuing their goals.
Trying new things helps understand what you like doing. That’s how landing the position of CS project manager made me realise that I like working with projects and have an aptitude for that.
There are moments when I doubt myself. How do I manage to keep going? I always take a minute to ask myself what is the worst that can happen if I screw up. Most likely I would feel upset for a few days, but afterwards, I could start over.
If I had to sum it all up - hunger for knowledge, proactivity and a courage to pitch your ideas are fundamental if you want to become successful.
What was the best advice you received?
I think we normally seek out people who can give us the type of advice that we would like to receive.
The best advice I received, however, was unexpected. At a point in life when it seemed like everything was going wrong, I felt disappointed and complained a lot. A shoulder to cry out and a gentle word was what I thought I needed. I chose the wrong person. Nevertheless, he gave me the best advice (even though I didn’t see it that was at the time) that I could have received. He told me that it was my fault I ended up where I was and that it was my responsibility to find out how to overcome the challenges I faced.
Other people aren’t very interested in our problems, especially if we don’t work on solving them ourselves.
Another, more practical example. I used to wait patiently for replies to my emails, which sometimes resulted in delays. I told Justas about it and he helped me change the way I perceive written communication. He explained that emailing is good for validation or FYI information. Ever since then, I no longer think of calls or face to face meetings as something very official - I prefer them when there is something urgent at hand.
What’s a book that you’ve read recently, or one that you would recommend?
I have to admit that at the moment I do a lot of reading for my master’s degree, so there’s little time left for other books.
However, I really recommend:
- The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People: Powerful Lessons in Personal Change by Stephen R. Covey
The books I have on my reading list:
- Stuart Diamond’s Getting More: How You Can Negotiate To Succeed In Work & Life
- Daniel Goleman’s Emotional Intelligence: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ
- Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind
What music do you like listening to?
Interesting/fun fact about yourself
I love travelling! Last year I visited 9 countries, this year - 5 and counting.
How do you like to spend your free time?
There’s little of that left because of my studies. However, I’m falling in love with ping pong and have a habit of counting steps with fit-bit to win weekly challenges. Painting is another passion that helps me recharge. As does spending time with friends and family.