Mare Roosileht, who has been the head of the TalTech Virumaa College since 2019, was elected both the head of a higher education institution of the year in Ida-Virumaa and a nominee for the title of head of an educational institution of the year in Estonia. In this interview, she explained her preferences regarding management.
What are the three qualities that make a leader worthy of an award?
For me, management and leadership should be closely intertwined. Therefore, my priorities are:
- gaining the trust of team members, bringing them together and motivating them;
- staying open-minded and developing one’s leadership skills on the basis of constructive criticism from colleagues;
- taking into account the needs of co-workers and the goals of the organisation.
Are your students special and if yes, for what reasons?
100% of our students have chosen the fields of engineering and technology for continuing their studies, many of them following in their family’s footsteps.
80% of our students are not native Estonian speakers, which makes studying in Estonian quite a big challenge for them. At the same time, it enables the development of culturally conscious communication skills.
Nearly 70% of our students are already employed and know what they need for their careers. At the same time, they need to combine work and family life with their studies. What makes our students special is that they have dared to accept the challenges mentioned.
How easy or difficult is it to provide education in Kohtla-Järve?
On the one hand, Virumaa College receives a great deal of support from businesses and we cooperate closely with them in both preparing and developing the curricula. Graduates from our college are also valued in the labour market across Estonia.
On the other hand, the “the best and the brightest” of our county tend to leave, and young people from other regions are afraid to come to Ida-Virumaa. We have been happy to see that in recent years, this trend has started to change and we have students from Tallinn, Võru, Türi and Kuressaare.
In the coming years, we will face a new challenge – developing unique educational and research capabilities in Ida-Virumaa.
What are you willing to say about the future of Virumaa College?
In seven years, Virumaa College will have become a regional competence centre for technical education and applied research, which is popular among both students and researchers.
What role can you play in fair transition?
As the focus of the fair transition is aimed at increasing the industry-related knowledge intensity of companies related to industry, including energy, while simultaneously offering formal and continuing education, I see my role as a link between the needs of companies and the competences of research and education.
Mare Roosileht has gained a lot of recognition in recent years. She has received the TalTech gold decoration, is a friend of entrepreneurs in Ida-Virumaa, was the person of the year in Ida-Virumaa in 2019, and also the media hero of the newspaper Põhjarannik – 2019 Alarm Bell of the Year.
Much of Mare Roosileht’s life has been related to Kohtla-Järve. She graduated from high school there and this – more precisely the Virumaa College – is also where she started working as a teacher of mathematics and informatics in 1993. From 2007 to 2019, she worked as the development manager of Virumaa College, and as from 1 September 2019, she has been the director.