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People tend to be afraid of new things

Kristina Lillo, Innovation Lead at SEB Estonia
Kristina Lillo, Innovation Lead at SEB Estonia

Innovation is exciting. It is about exploring and discovering new things. At the same time, it can be scary – people tend to be afraid of new things. We asked Innovation Lead at SEB Estonia Kristina Lillo what innovation is for her and how she works with it.

Kristina Lillo graduated from University of Tartu last summer, with a bachelor’s in Computer Science. She started working at SEB as a Marketing Intern, which shortly led to her applying for the position as Innovation Lead. Besides work she is a gymnastics coach, and a WRC Rally Estonia judge and event coordinator. Her interest in innovation sparked already in high school when she made her own student company.

No two days are the same

Kristina, together with her Innovation Team, focus specifically on innovation within academia. They often do university projects where students try to solve SEB challenges and explore new interesting areas. Kristina usually manages career days and guest lectures, as well as instructing student teams in different projects.

“No two days are the same. I often have many different activities in one day, such as scientific workshops, Instagram lives or podcast appearances or I am hosting events.”

Kristina and her team lead scientific cooperation, for example through collecting ideas, brainstorming possible projects and seeking collaboration opportunities. Kristina also manages the newest SEB Innovation Centre which is located at the University of Tartu Delta Centre, where they can be close to the students and science.

“SEB has four Innovation Centres, and two of them are in Tallinn and Tartu, which are spaces for collaboration and innovation. For us it is very important to cooperate with students, for example to give them a chance to be part of future products and participate in UX testing rounds.

Constant creation

Kristina and her team work with SEB’s Youth Lab, one of the biggest Baltic internship programmes. She explains how the amount of applications increase every year, and this year they are accepting around 100 students which is higher than ever.

The programme includes an Innovation Lab part where intern teams are solving real-life SEB challenges which they work with for 6 weeks. By the end of the internship they get to pitch their ideas and solutions to SEB employees. Some of these solutions are even implemented after Youth Lab.

“SEB has, among other things, implemented #MAISIC, the first environmentally friendly bank card in Estonia. The card is made from corn and contain 82% less plastic compared to regular bank cards.”

The future of innovation

The Innovation Team will continue to put more effort into their work during this phase of exploration. They will deal with more research and explore more projects and ideas to make the innovation pipeline faster.

Kristina ends by saying that their task as an Innovation Team is to move faster, to predict the future and offer solutions that will end up becoming things in our everyday lives.

“Innovation is exciting and new. People talk about it. At the same time it can be scary, people are afraid of new things. But innovation is about exploring, discovering, and making people’s lives better, cheaper and more convenient.”