This is Taavi Keerd, IMS Senior DevOps Engineer, who is our very valued colleague. Last December marked 20 years in the company for him and that makes Taavi our most senior employee in terms of work years in Playtech Estonia. To celebrate this, we invited Taavi for a short interview to find out more about him and Playtech. All secrets revealed – let’s go!
Taavi, 20 years in the same company, wow! Congrats! What is the one thing that has kept you in one company for so long?
First thing that comes to mind is excessive comfort, but truth to be told, the main reasons are large amounts of data and friendly people. I love digging in data, and if there were any less of it, I would probably get bored. I doubt there’re many companies around here with comparable numbers in terms of size and complexity of systems. Also, I can’t recall having any seriously bad experiences during my time here. I like my colleagues and the wide variety of events that we have.
How has your role in Playtech changed in those 20 years?
As a kid, I was the go-to guy among relatives when something needed to be fixed. I always liked to take things apart and put them back together, which perhaps explains my patience to stay on the same position for so long. In the big picture, the essence of my work hasn’t changed a lot in contrast to quite a variety of team names and positions. It is somewhat difficult for me to let go of details and accept generalizations, which is why I don’t see myself in leadership roles. I’m totally fine with my own “proven” generalizations, though 🙂
Looking back, I think
I’ve been quite lucky since the beginning as I could always effortlessly choose
my own directions and activities, and I don’t remember having any obstacles.
But then again – over time, things have silently become more regulated as we
have steadily grown from a start-up to an international unicorn.
What has been the brightest memories over those years you remember the best?
For one thing, the times we went to London Stock Exchange were exciting for sure. It meant more parties and more money for most of us. Not to mention, more challenges at work. I remember how US market cut-off halved our stock overnight, only to be restored and overtaken in a couple of months. This fall was so dramatic that it made news on ETV as opposed to IPO event itself.
I’ve gone through a few office buildings. “Pläsku” was tight, but it had views and a huge sauna. Lai Street office had a considerable recreational area and was well placed – opposite pub “Zavood”.
As I said earlier, people made all of it seem fun. My anniversary surprise with a cake is yet another sweet example.
But was it a challenge for you when Playtech moved towards becoming an international company where the main working language is English? Or have there been any other big challenges?
What can I say – answering this question is itself a challenge! OK, just joking.
I suspect that I personally communicated more in English from the start anyway. I was on the phone as tech support for about a year at the very beginning. During my first decade, I did more talking and was more in touch with our Israeli colleagues as some of them were either based here or visiting frequently. Nowadays, I lean more towards writing than talking in English.
Who are you when you are not in Playtech? What are your hobbies?
I really love to travel, and I spend all my vacations doing that. I don’t quite feel this is enough, but if it became a hobby, I wouldn’t have time to work.
I find my own places and never use any packages by travel agencies. Hiking is a must, preferably around mountains, with some climbing when possible. I don’t climb professionally by any means, but I’ve had the experience of knowing I won’t come back home. Luckily, I managed to survive.
Generally, I don’t fancy a professional approach to sport and leisure. Repetition diminishes excitement and the sensation of doing something new. I would love to say I’m a very active person, but I’m afraid this is not true.
At home I like listening to lectures or audiobooks on topics other than IT. Humour is surely a valued input as for any sane person. As a modest gesture towards our friends and heroes, I’ve been studying Ukrainian with an app since the beginning of the war and participated in a mobile sauna building project for the front lines.
What do you find to be your strength?
I have been mainly self-taught. Thus, more polite modern approaches seem to me a little like handing things on a plate. In the old days, of course, the company was generally in a phase which was more conducive to autonomy and uncertainty. I like the not knowing, because then there is a small opportunity to unveil something that nobody in the world has yet grasped. These are qualities of a scientist – so perhaps I’m not quite in the right place? But so far, it’s working.
Is IT the best place to work? What are your 3 tips to a youngster who is into tech but not yet in tech?
It certainly is in today's world. I would encourage anyone to research and ask questions about anything that’s incomprehensible. Try to hack around, reverse engineer and figure out solutions to things that seem dodgy or ineffective, or to questions no one gave you a satisfactory answer. Personally, I’m hardly ever satisfied with answers in form of a statement. I need to prove it to myself… if it won’t take the whole day.
Eventually, we are all somewhat different and the same approach cannot possibly have the best effect for everyone. It’s best if you can align your qualities with potential requirements.
Colleague about Taavi
Head of IMS Business Unit
„As a financial data ops, he may be modest but he is a very sharp and attentive individual. His attention to detail when it comes to handling financial data sets him apart. In fact, his careful attention has saved our company a considerable amount of money in the past. He is a valuable asset to our team and we are fortunate to have him working for us.“