Side by side series | Age Laine and Mariia Khrapunenko

With this first dual interview, we are starting the series “Side by side” where we asked one junior and one senior colleague to give us a glimpse into their day-to-day activities and show us a parallel of being in both positions. This time, we asked our colleagues from the Tartu office in Estonia. Age Laine is a Partner whereas Mariia Khrapunenko, originally coming from Ukraine, is a Consultant. 


1.      What is your perfect morning routine to start the day?

Age: I open the curtains and see the blue sky and sun shining!

Mariia: I really enjoy early mornings and the perfect routine is when there is no rush. If we are lucky in Estonia, then in the spring-summer months the day starts with lots of sunshine in the bedroom, followed by a bit of yoga and stretching to let the body know that we are about to tackle another day (usually full of adventures). I like a bit of dancing in the morning while getting ready too, so there is always some music playing in the background. And I am a big fan of our CIVITTA Tartu office, that is why the best part of the morning routine is there - a big cup of coffee with lots of milk foam and a couple of favourite candies. 


2.      What is the music track that you love to play when coming to work?

Age: I am an old-school radio fan :)

Mariia: Here I fully rely on the Spotify Mixtapes but I choose the one to play depending on the mood, the weather, or both. But there is an emergency song to cheer me up if needed  - Supergirl by Reamonn. 


3.     How do you usually relax during the work breaks?

Age: I usually stroll down to the Tartu office “kitchen/living room”, check for some coffee and snacks and find a person to share some jokes and laughs with.

Mariia: Usually I like bothering my colleagues with questions about Estonia as I have been learning about it for some time. I would ask the meaning of the words, or for a new idiom, or I would just come to the kitchen and start telling about my day in Estonian. I really hope my colleagues are as entertained as I am with the whole process. 


4.      Do you cook and if so, what is your favourite dish to make?

Age: Cooking is not my favourite thing, but of course, I do cook. Besides the compulsory dishes dictated by kids, I enjoy cooking curry.

Mariia: I like baking more than cooking - pies, cakes, pancakes, cookies and everything that falls into this category. But my favourite dish is the breakfast dish - syrniki. It is a very common thing to make in my home country in Ukraine. Basically, they are small but thick pancakes made of cottage cheese. And as I cannot eat everything I make, then sometimes I bring things to the office (or cook syrniki there too).


5.     How do you keep your motivation up during the day?

Age: I do not have to do anything since I normally have more ideas on what I would like to do during the day than is physically possible. So at any moment, I am motivated to solve the next puzzle that I have arranged at my table and see the results.

Mariia: When there is something challenging or I am stuck with something, then I let it sink in and switch to some other task meanwhile. This gives the opportunity to zoom out and later you always see some other path or way to go around the task. Also, when the motivation is down, I remind myself that there have been so many challenges before but I managed to deal with those, and so can this time too. And if these two approaches do not help, then I go and take another candy and tell myself that this shall pass as well.


6.     Do you have some hobbies and if so, which ones?

Age: I have normally theatre tickets for the whole season, 1-2 spectacles per month. When I manage to arrange a time for sports there is only one way to take a maximum of it – Body Pump training!

Mariia: I have always had difficulties with defining when something that I like doing becomes a hobby. Is it a week? Or a month? Or many years? If we take the things that I have enjoyed doing since childhood, then (in addition to baking) it is writing - there are so many notebooks, random pieces of paper, notes on the phone and all with some reflections, stories, memories and so on. I also like listening to poetry and learning it by heart, I like languages and the etymology of words, and I enjoy dancing.


7.     What is your favourite weekend activity?

Age: I like to spend quality time with family and friends - a day or weekend trip involving a mix of kids' attractions together with meetings with friends.

Mariia: It is taking the intercity bus and going to some places in Estonia I have not yet visited. Even though Estonia is relatively small, there is so much to discover! These trips do not happen every weekend, sometimes they do not happen for months, but that is why they are favourite. 


8.     What did you learn during your time in CIVITTA?

Age: During my 15 years career in CIVITTA, I have been able to design the perfect job for myself, grow from Junior Consultant to Partner and develop a service line from the scratch.

Mariia: There have been just 8 months with CIVITTA, but what months have those been! Apart from the growth work-wise, learning about the whole new area of Horizon Europe, the world of consortiums and the peculiarities of project writing, I have learned how united CIVITTA is and how much an inspiring and friendly work environment matters. Yes, the clients and challenges are important but it is the well-being and mutual support that always come first.


9.     What do you like most about your team?

Age: The smartest people, who are able to understand and explain the most complex scientific and technological ideas, enjoy life and be the best companions, in moments of relaxation.  

Mariia: I like how we complement each other, how it does not matter if you have been a member of the team for a month or for years - you are involved in work equally, and of course, my favourite thing is our team days.


10.  How would you describe CIVITTA in a few words?

Age: Living in a small and cosy city, while having a truly international and challenging job, being connected to colleagues and partners all over Europe and working in forefront of the next technological breakthroughs. This is my CIVITTA. 

Mariia: CIVITTA is a box of chocolates with different flavours, shapes, and types, but that is the beauty of it because you can try all and will for sure find the one you like.