Interview with Miltton Latvia CEO

Marta Mackeviča: Main goal is to show the strengths of Miltton Latvia

Marta Mackeviča has been the executive director of Miltton Latvia since last autumn. Marta has more than 13 years of experience in public relations, which includes work in both public administration and the private sector. She was a public relations advisor to the Minister of Justice of the Republic of Latvia, as well as the Minister of Education and Science, and the Head of Development department of the largest private university in the Baltics – Turība University, responsible for the university’s public image and development. Additional experience as also gained while working in a public relations agency. Marta has a degree in Social Sciences in Politics, a Master’s degree in Law and is currently in the final stages of obtaining a Doctorate in Law, specializing in personal data protection.

This time, more about Marta’s emotions, and how she came to public relations, and the future plans of Miltton Latvia.

What is it that you would like to tell about yourself?

I like to be useful and needed, I often have a desire to get involved everywhere, even where I am not asked (laughs), both professionally and personally. I’m always looking out for new projects, new topics and always am on the move. And learning most of the time- at the moment it seems that I have already satisfied my appetite for acquiring knowledge, however, I am still inquiring various study programs and it is not excluded that I will become a student again someday. Paradoxically, at the same time, I am dissatisfied with myself if I don’t know something, for example, I started kickboxing classes a while ago, I was stiff in the first trainings, the movements were not fluid and I had to accept that there are things that I can’t do at my age as well as, for example, seven or eight-year-olds training in a side-by-side group. But it teaches modesty and helps to “get down to earth”.

Did the desire to learn something new bring you to the field of public relations and communication, since your education is in a different field?

Yes, my first degree in social sciences in politics took me in the direction of politics, I joined a political party, became an assistant to a member of the Saeima, and my very first duties were to some extent related to PR and communication – social media communication, website administration, news writing, work with the media. I realized that I like it and I’m good at it. Life took me away from Riga and I continued the path I had started, working as a public relations specialist in one of Latvian municipalities. This was followed by a return to Riga, the opportunity to gain experience as an advisor to the Minister of Justice, to work in various non-governmental organizations, especially in the field of education. Education (at all levels) has always been a topic close to me, which is probably why I enjoyed so much the opportunity to work at a university and later also at the Ministry of Education and Science as an advisor to the minister. During all these years, I have learned that different types of knowledge, including political science and legal knowledge, are useful in communication and public relations.

How did you end up in the Miltton family?

I was the Head of Development department at a university until at some point I realized how cyclical everything is in the university environment – admission of new students, study semester, winter graduation, another semester, summer graduation and admission of new students again. Of course, new ideas and events can be created every year, but the basic order does not change. I guess I already wanted bigger challenges, so I remembered that there was no lack of dynamics and challenges in the public relations and communication agency. At that time, the public relations agency where I had once worked joined the Miltton group, becoming the basis for the creation of Miltton Latvia. Although working in an international team was initially a bit disconcerting, the experience I had gained in university working with students from more than 45 countries came in handy. I accepted the agency’s offer and started this adventure as a project director. The first year was dynamic, a lot of projects, it was really not boring (laughs). After more than a year, I was offered to become the executive director of Miltton Latvia. I will always be grateful to the Miltton family, especially to Miltton Latvia board members Kristi Roost and Annika Arras, who saw this potential in me and who still give me advice and support on a daily basis. I am lucky to have always had strong and intelligent women around me in my life, who inspire and motivate me – in the non-governmental organizations I have worked with, in the university, in the Ministry of Education and Science, and now also in the Milton family. Everyday in the Miltton Latvia team, I work together with great ladies who are my motivation, drive to move forward without giving up, supporting shoulder and source of positive emotions.

It’s been several months since you took over as CEO. What is the best and what is the most challenging that has happened during this time?

The positive aspect of this is definitely that a large part of my day is still working with clients. While many PR professionals find writing press releases and opinion pieces boring, I really enjoy it. Publicity actually means being able to see the fruits of your labour immediately, and I need that on a daily basis. The most challenging thing for me personally is not to deprive my colleagues of their personal professional space – to let them act, make decisions and yes, also make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. I’ve always wanted to take care everyone, “spoon-feed” everything, but at the same time I’m aware that you don’t always have to show off your ideas and opinions. That’s what I’m learning right now.

What do you like most about the Miltton Latvia team?

It will sound trite, but – everything! Really! I am very happy with the existing team, the way the team members interact with each other. I think the team is very self-sufficient and I’m not the only glue that holds everything together. We complement each other, each has its own strengths, experience, and knowledge. Sometimes, when such strong personalities come together, there is explosiveness, but in our case, positive energy and power are created. I am proud to be part of such a team. Every day I go to the office with pleasure and look forward to meeting my colleagues. And another extremely important thing I want to highlight is a sense of humour. The Miltton Latvia team has set a very high bar for humour.

How would you describe one of your working days?

I used to give lectures to students and then always tell them what a day in the life of a communication person is like. My working day most often includes the whole range of emotions – preparing materials for the media and getting publicity gets some joy and smiles, then anger can follow if someone does not understand the specifics of the communication industry, a tear can also fall if you have to work with people who are alien to ethics and decency, but then once again I overflow with the joy and motivation I get from the team. Such a carousel of emotions can repeat several times during the day. The magic of the field of communication lies precisely in the fact that in one day or even an hour you can experience several small victories and, of course, also small defeats. The main thing is that both things are in balance. Another characteristic is switching from topic to topic – in the morning meeting with a client representing the IT field, then preparing publicity material about health and medicine, later gathering data about tourism, and so on.

What are your and Miltton Latvia’s future goals and challenges?

In the small market of Latvia there are quite a lot of different communication agencies – the biggest ones with decades of developed brands, strong niche agencies, companies that offer a huge spectrum of services and many others. My primary goal and task are to highlight and show what Miltton Latvia is! Introduce us and show the strengths, offered options and products. Show how Miltton Latvia can help clients grow and achieve their goals. And of course, to show that Miltton Latvia is part of a strong, international and professional group. Many things have already been done, for example, strong relations have been established with the media of various sectors, which are important in our work, we have experience and knowledge – what remains is to put it all to use. Miltton Latvia is a new player in the Latvian market and we have all the opportunities to grow!

If your life was a song, what would it be?

If we talk about professional life, then it could be the song “Hotel California” by the group “The Eagles”, which reads “You can check out any time you like. But you can never leave”. I would say it’s the same with the communications industry in general – once you’re in it, you’re in it for life.

And if your life was a movie, what genre would it be?

I’m glad it’s not a Mexican soap opera (laughs), probably a good detective with comedy elements.

Do you always try to implement plan A or do you immediately jump to plan B?

Immediately to the most difficult, consciously or unconsciously, but you have to choose the most difficult path, but in the most positive sense of the term. A large volume of work, complex topics, tight deadlines do not scare me. In fact, the opposite is true – if something comes very easily, there is a feeling that something is wrong (laughs). It is not for nothing that the Latvian proverb says – the harder the work, the sweeter the fruit.