“It’s like binge-watching a TV series – I need to know what happens next”
Having worked within the MTG family for seven years, three of them in Viaplay`s Stockholm office, business controller Maarja Jakunin explains why she can never seem to leave this life behind her and return to her native Estonia.
Maarja Jakunin isn’t your average business controller. In fact, she hasn’t even got a degree in finance. “I studied civil engineering but when I got my first internship at a large building company, I realised there was too much calculation and not enough communication. I do love numbers but I’m also a people person.”
After her studies, more by luck than judgement, she got a job as an auditor at KPMG. “My sister worked there and it seemed kind of fun, since I got to combine the social aspect of teamwork with accounting. Also, as an auditor, you visit the offices of so many clients and get an insight into a wide variety of industries and markets.”
After four years as an auditor, she gradually began to feel the urge to work in finance, without the constant need to ask herself if someone else had done their homework. “I’d learnt so much and seen so many different types of companies that the rules and regulations of an auditor’s day-to-day life started to feel somewhat restrictive. I was beginning to lean towards the media sector.” So, that’s how, in 2010, she ended up at MTG as controller for the Baltic region. “I hadn’t done any auditing at MTG specifically, but I really liked what I heard and saw at the job interview. I got the sense of a very open and casual climate in combination with strong business sense and an ever-changing industry.”
As a youthful, international organisation, MTG offers a wealth of opportunities and, after three years of extensive travelling within the Baltic States, Maarja was ready for a new adventure. In 2013, when a business controller position opened up at Viaplay’s Stockholm office, Maarja leapt at the chance. “It was only supposed to be for four months, since originally I was supposed to cover for someone on parental leave. However, the media industry as a whole – and especially streaming services – changes fast and they needed another business controller.”
Why did you decide to stay?
“Viaplay was – and still is – in a period of extreme growth, both in terms of content and on the financial side. Four months was simply not nearly enough time. In a way, that’s why I’ve stayed here in Stockholm. So far, I’ve taken it one year at a time, but the company grows and changes so much I can’t bring myself to leave. It’s like binge-watching a TV series. I want to know what happens next.”
What makes it so exciting?
“The diversity. I get to work with people and numbers in a competitive market. When it comes to where the company invests its money, I take a financial viewpoint. When a new idea pops up – whether it’s a new product, service or new content – it’s my job, along with my fellow controllers, to make forecasts, point out the pitfalls and provide calculations to support decision making.”
To make an accurate prognosis, you need data – and so the hunt begins. To gather this information, Maarja Jakunin collaborates with all of the various departments within the organisation. “For me, the best thing about my work, apart from the company in general and my fantastic colleagues, would be both the product and the fact that we are constantly striving to improve and grow. When I work on an assignment, I can see how our business decisions are playing out in real life. Not all business controllers get to do that.”
Role: Business Controller, Viaplay.
Education: Civil Engineering, Tallinn Technical University.
Interests: Reading, Yoga, Pilates and of course watching series and films. I love to travel but also to spend holidays on my home island, Saaremaa, on the Estonian west coast.
Favourite series: Hmm, I have different go-to series for different situations. Friends, for when I’m sick and need some easy viewing. Mad Men is a great portrait of that era. Oh, and my favourite costume drama, Downton Abbey, has an attitude and grace mixed with British sarcasm that’s hard to beat.