Catching up with Mr. Ragnar Siil, Lecturer at Estonian Business School
Ragnar Siil is the Founder and Managing Partner of Creativity Lab - International Cultural Policy and Creative Industries think tank and consultancy. He has conducted workshops and trainings, and advised governments, cultural operators and creative entrepreneurs in more than 25 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa. Mr. Siil is Former Estonian Under-Secretary of State for the Arts, as well as a Chairman of the European Union Expert Group on Creative Industries and a member of the European Creative Industries Alliance. In 2016-2018, Mr.Siil was a Key Expert on Cultural and Creative Sectors at the European Union Eastern Partnership Culture and Creativity Programme helping to develop cultural and creative industries in Georgia, Ukraine, Armenia, Moldova, Azerbaijan and Belarus. He is a Lecturer in creative economy, business models and investor pitching at Estonian Business School (EBS) and is also currently undertaking his doctoral studies on managing creative hubs and clusters at EBS.
We caught up with Mr. Siil for a brief interview during his one-week visit to SolBridge where he delivered special lectures on Creative Economy and Pitching skills. He also held interactive meetings with the SolBridge Debate Society.
You worked in the private and public sectors before, why did you decide to join academia?
I did not shift to academia as I am still managing my consultancy firm and work part-time at EBS. The doctoral degree at EBS is practice-based hence, the majority of doctoral students pursue a Ph.D. not to join academia but to become better at whatever they do. The goal is to acquire research skills, methodologies and an in-depth view of their particular area. So I joined the Ph.D. program to become better in my field by developing theoretical frameworks and creating new knowledge for my clients.
Your research interests are in Creative economy and e-Governments. How can business schools prepare their students for creative economies?
The 2016 World Economic Forum Report highlights four key competencies for the 21st-century jobs; critical thinking and problem solving, creativity, collaboration and teamwork, and communication skills. The fastest growing economies in the world are related to creativity, creative economy and commercializing intellectual property. Therefore, the role of business schools is two-fold; to show future business leaders these opportunities within creative sectors and to equip students in acquiring the key competencies for the 21st century. With these competencies, students have a clear understanding of how design thinking works and how to work with creative teams.
What is the best thing about teaching?
The ability to inspire students; Opening student’s eyes and enlarging their point of view, I would say, is the best thing about teaching. Moreover, I learn so much more from my students. It is often said that the best way to learn something is to teach it.
What do you see is the future of doing business and how can business schools best prepare for the future?
The future of doing business is very wide. However, for business schools to be relevant, they need to stay ahead of the curve. A number of business schools are a step behind and a trying to cope up. The future of business education is about being more experimental and trying out new things.
Secondly, the biggest problem, especially to the creative economy, is the silos in our education systems. Designers, engineers and business students undergo a 3-5 year program in different schools and never get to interact during this period. There are no joint challenges or business development programs for them to meet until they join the workforce. SolBridge is very good at this by encouraging team-based learning even though the teams are from the same background. The future of businesses and business schools is interdisciplinary learning. Students from different disciplines need to work together on different projects before they join the workforce.
What was your first impression of South Korea? What were your expectations versus reality?
Having worked in many Asian countries including Taiwan, Singapore, China, Indonesia and Japan, I was not really surprised. Although different from Estonia in terms of culture, size and economy, there are a lot of similarities between the two countries like the economic miracles that both countries experienced. Like Korea, Estonia started very poor and went through a miraculous economic development into becoming one of the most digitally advanced economies.
I love Korea. I love how clean it is. I love the food, give me kimchi and I am happy.
Any Impression about SolBridge?
SolBridge is quite impressive. The organization and facilities are very efficient and the students are really interesting.
Which three words would you use to describe yourself?
Passionate. Curious. Open-minded.
Any advice for today’s business students?
Be more curious, more open-minded and challenge yourself.