Stefano came to Lithuania from Italy on a whim as a volunteer indoor climbing instructor and has been living and working here for 9 years now. Having learned the ins and outs of AdTech, user acquisition, and ad monetisation on the job, he says that Lithuania is uniquely open to new ideas and that Lithuanian companies give their employees lots of space and opportunities to grow, regardless of age or background.
You can try pretty much anything here because people will listen to you. My made-up motto for the country is: “Lithuania is a country that gives you a chance”.
It happened quite randomly. At the time when I was finishing my bachelor’s studies in Civil Engineering, finding a job with career prospects in my hometown of Turin was very challenging.
Then, as I was climbing indoors with a friend, he suggested I look for volunteering opportunities in Europe. As I didn’t see myself in my then-job, I took his advice.
In May 2013 – around 6 months into my efforts applying to what today is called the European Solidarity Corp – I got a suggestion from an Italian sending organisation to join a project based in Kaunas. I was surprised because Lithuania is a country with no mountains and yet they wanted me to work as an indoor climbing instructor, but I thought, “Why not?”.
All I knew about Lithuania then was that it was very green and had lots of lakes. To get in, I had to go through 3 or 4 interviews, but I finally managed. Being embedded in the community, I wasn’t stuck only talking to other foreigners or wasting time on parties, I actually met a lot of locals.
The people there were super friendly and a bit outside of the “mainstream”, so we got along super well – my first boss actually inspired me in many ways.
Afterwards – the project was just for 1 year – I decided to stay in Lithuania. I managed to find a job in just 1 month, whereas back in Italy job-hunting can easily take upwards of 6 months and you still end up with nothing. In any case, I joined the Vilnius branch of Adform in 2014, in the customer success team for the Italian market.
Moving to Vilnius felt like starting from scratch again, as I didn’t have many friends here. On the other hand, working in tech on the Scandinavian model was a great fit. That, combined with finding a partner here (we’re married now), convinced me to stay.
After 3 years, however – sensing a need for change – we decided to go traveling in India and do work exchange (work for food and accommodation), and eventually spent more than a year on the move. But those 3 years in Vilnius really shaped my life forever.
Finally, we came back to Kaunas, my wife’s hometown, to build a stable life. I sat down at my laptop and started looking for jobs. I noticed an ad by TutoTOONS, but since I wasn’t really a gamer anymore, I just kept scrolling. But then, my wife sent that same ad to me without knowing that I’d already seen it. Maybe it was a sign. I applied on Tuesday – and on Friday I was hired!
At TutoTOONS, I started out in Quality Assurance. First, I playtested the games we develop, not only finding bugs but also fixing some of them on the graphics side. That was fun! By now, I think I changed my position four times, thanks to my experience in AdTech and curiosity to try new things. I was then offered to move into ad monetisation by one of the co-founders. As before in Lithuania, career progress was really fast. No one cares about your age – what matters is your skills and motivation.
While on ad monetisation, I dived into user acquisition too, then led the company’s ad monetisation and user acquisition teams for a year, and now I’m overseeing an entire department. I help my teammates develop professionally and personally, while I’m focused on the strategic side of things.
Yes. I was even often asked to do things I knew little or nothing about! It was all on the job, including some assistance, of course – especially from team leads who got me through some very difficult times. I honestly believe that 90% of issues at work come down to communication, not technical snags. On the other hand, you must be able to speak up or else things may begin to stagnate pretty badly.
Totally. One obvious change is the massively improved urban infrastructure. Kaunas is now quite different in terms of its cityscape and urban design than it was 9 years ago.
From the very beginning, I noticed that people here are really looking to grow and it’s pretty exciting and motivating. Especially if you want to switch careers because there are lots of possibilities here. I’d say that Lithuania has a lot of space – it’s very open. People can build new things and they’ll always find opportunities for doing so. You can try pretty much anything here because people will listen to you. My made-up motto for the country is: “Lithuania is a country that gives you a chance”.
Also, the younger generation, I think, has a very bright future as well. They travel, learn from other cultures, and then bring that knowledge, experience, and ideas back. It seems like, over time, Lithuanians are even beginning to overcome their introversion, so that’s super impressive!
Last but not least, Lithuania is becoming more and more tolerant and multicultural, which is great to see.
I stopped climbing when I moved to Vilnius because I hurt my hands. Then once I was starting once again, COVID hit, which put a damper on exercise altogether. But eventually, I started running, which I still do to this day.
In the summer I like going to festivals – Lithuania is really strong on that. You have so much choice here! My favourite used to be Yaga, and now I’m looking for something new. But I’m really happy to see Amber Burn – the Lithuanian version of Burning Man – catching on.
Another thing I really, really appreciate is the easy access to nature. Sure, Italy is great in that regard too, but here it’s always right around the corner. Hiking and spending time in nature are definitely hobbies I now have.