Tallinn University of Technology

In 2011, Taivo Linnamägi obtained a master´s degree in Public Administration and Innovation. We asked our alumnus, how he has applied the acquired skills and what type of work he does now.

SBG_alumni_Taivo Linnamägi
Taivo Linnamägi

TalTech School of Business and Governance has an impressive number of alumni, which already exceeds 28 500.  Over time, many institutions have merged with the SBG, such as Concordia International University, Audentes University, Tallinn College, School of Social Sciences of Tallinn University of Technology. 

In which programme did you study? 
I studied at TalTech in the field of public administration – at that time it was taught in parallel with the master's programme of technology governance. The fact that the programmes were new and the teaching staff had experience from major universities around the world attracted people to apply. Thanks to the novelty and predominance of the English-language programmes, there were quite a lot of students from outside Estonia, which was beneficial and facilitated discussions and group work in lectures. We quickly made friends with each other, and have been interacting with some of the groupmates later in our working lives.

Why did you decide in favour of this programme? 
While browsing the study programmes before applying, I was fascinated by their novelty - the structure of the courses, their goals, and renowned international lecturers. During my studies, my motivation increased as the whole system functioned, was meaningful and the objective was relatively clear. During my previous studies, I had met teaching staff of different styles, some of them preferred academicism, while others chose a more practical approach. However, the lecturers of the School of Social Sciences at that time practiced teaching methods that were new for me, and a brand-new study complex had just been completed, not to mention the awesome library. In retrospect, we were made to think and discuss, to generate and experiment with ideas. Of course, there was also nostalgia, for example, an overhead projector was brought out of the corner of the corridor a couple of times. 
I also remember that the communication between students, faculty members, and the employees of the School was open and sincere, which greatly motivated me as a student working in the public sector. In the first semesters, of course, I overestimated my ability a bit, because I wanted to get everything out of the master's degree programme and took a lot of electives, so that in a few weeks there were no days off or sleep. But it paid off, and to be honest, probably the majority of our group earned a scholarship, which, in addition to the good grades that are the student's salary, also brought a spark into our eyes.

What do you do today and what/which event attracted you to your current job? 
Today, I run the aviation sector at the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (MEAC) and represent our country in several international organizations both at the European and world level. Our task is to organize the legislation in the field and to do it with better quality than before, and to implement the strategy of the field together with the sector, to ensure investments and support mechanisms. The work is a real ordeal, but it pays off in the form of quietly ripening fruits.
I reached my today's position at the invitation of my colleague, who grabbed me on the verge of the bankruptcy case of Estonian Air. Although I did not have any substantial aviation training, my previous legal knowledge was useful from day one. Rather, my work requires more extensive preparation and playing with open cards. In addition, I have good colleagues and partners who are making this flight extremely interesting. TalTech has taught me that in case of problems, world practices should be looked at, partners should be openly consulted and discussed, doubts and arguments should be added, and scientific and factual basis should be included, and then the goal should be set more precisely. Of course, it is important to enjoy the beauty of the process and the game in the public sector as well.

What are the challenges in your current job?
Most of my work involves communicating with partners and making strategic choices, which presupposes that the process is public and requires open cooperation. And the results must be written in easy-to-read language at the end of the day.
One of the most exciting topics today is, of course, environmental protection in the aviation sector - how to reduce emissions without greenwashing. In addition, the thrilling exercise is what the drones moving in the air open to everyone will offer in a few years - we'll probably find a solution for how to get from the fresh coffee delivered by air to the air taxis that carry people.

What do you think is the strength of this sector in today's labour market?
Aviation is an area with high R&D potential that needs specialists in both operations and development. I hope that we have passed the crisis exercises and overcome the obstacles related to the pandemic, including the fact that companies will be able to continue their development activities after the restructuring and the liquidity crisis.
I have noticed that the aviation industry is growing and evolving, and in general, people's hearts remain loyal to the industry. Estonian aviation education is one of the few free benefits in Europe, but most graduates leave for the wide world. Competent professionals are always in demand in the job market because, despite market fluctuations, air transport is the fastest way to move around the world today, with an increasing number of aircraft and passengers, so pilots, service experts, and staff, air traffic professionals - even if an intelligent computer will do the work for you, the structure and need for the development of the system, together with the knowledge of the content, come from people.

Could you recall any sweet or funny incidents from your university times with groupmates/ lecturers?
As one of the courses, I was lucky to take the one delivered by the Dean at that time on the principles and functions of local governments. We had a pretty good company there, many of whom worked for the Chancellor of Justice and in various ministries, so a lot of crazy ideas were born from the students' arguments. At the end of the course, Sulev Mäeltsemees, the lecturer, began to identify students by names and declared that he had had far more people in his lectures than on his list. The excitement on the students' faces grew and I was quite surprised when I was the only one not in the list. It turned out that I had not registered in time. We all laughed together and I had to fill in an extra document. I believe that the content of the lecture and the desire to argue had supported my decision, and attendance was considered along with the examination results, so the moral is that your choices always need to be double-checked. 
And I will add a point here about one of the courses on the internationalization of technology. We had to do independent research. I was sincerely amazed when Carlota Perez, the lecturer, handed me material about Facebook with tasks to solve. Namely, I was not a user of that social media platform, and it was all the more exciting to study this story. After a while, a movie about Marc Zukerberg, the founder of the platform, was released which I was able to comment on in terms of content. And even though I promised Dr Perez to stay away from Facebook, a few years later I became a user of that as part of a project. What to do, the beauty and pain of the digital era.

What would you recommend to the young people who are about to make their choices? 
Choose a field that speaks to you and concerns you - in more difficult times in your studies it is good to be interested in the field and the supporting courses. Higher education is an investment, and in the future, you will have the opportunity to be a doer and dedicate yourself directly or indirectly to society, being a service designer, an expert or, why not, a field leader. Before you start studying, be sure to do more thorough preliminary research, and look at the programmes, including other specialties and the schedule, because it is important to take the maximum out of the university and plan activities, free time will come anyway. There are no wrong choices, you have to decide and, if necessary, re-decide. You must enjoy the process and contribute to the heart and head. The world is for the brave!