Say hello to Ilona Bernotaite, CPO at Kilo Health – the second fastest-growing company in Europe that works in digital health and wellness. 🚀 We talked about Ilona’s lessons from her digital nomad lifestyle, personalisation of employer-employee relationships, and uniqueness of Gen Z workforce.
Ilona, how would you introduce yourself in 3 sentences?
I love to make my own rules and live life on my own terms. Like Frank Sinatra once said “I’ve lived a life that’s full, I traveled each and every highway, regrets, I’ve had a few, I faced it all and I stood tall and did it my way”. I am at core a standard Millennial but with quite some patterns from Gen Z. 🙂
Almost 3 years spent with Kilo Health. Why did you choose this place to work at and which factors encourage you to stay?
Tadas Burgaila. Kilo Health Culture. Amazing colleagues. Insane pace. Amazing opportunities. At Kilo Health the sky is the limit and it’s only up to you how much you will achieve in this organization.
You’ve lived in 40+ countries. How has it been putting roots in just one? How has your love for travel influenced your leadership style or approach to HR and people management?
I will be honest, it’s hard for me to be rooted in one place. My father calls me “gypsy” and that’s who I am. I enjoy living on the road. Luggage and passport are my best buddies. On another hand, I like to plan my life in cycles. There are times when I want to enjoy freedom and travel, and there are times when I am ready to hustle and stay put in one place to achieve career goals – one of them is now Kilo Health journey.
While traveling around the world I met all kinds of people and that have taught me that we are all different, we all have our own dreams, our own style of communication, our own cultural background. This has shaped my leadership style – I stopped judging people for who they are, now I try to understand each person individually and adapt to their needs, their personalities.
We’ve recently written a blog post about HR trends in 2024. One of them was concerned with changes in the workplace due to more and more Gen Z employees entering management positions. What do you think this will change? Do you see any unique tendencies when it comes to Gen Z managers?
I love the Gen Z generation. They question the status quo. They look for a better life balance than we do. They want to have meaning in what they do. It’s hard to say how Gen Z leadership will impact the current work environment, we need to give it a few years and we will see.
But from what I see, my prediction is that work environment will become even more personalized and tailored to each employee, there will be less old style hierarchical leaders with “I say, you do”. Work will become less important in general, people will move around a lot and they all will have few side gigs on the side. Meaning, that it will be even harder to attract and retain employees. Those companies who can offer vision with purpose, interesting projects, flexibility, will win.
How do you think the importance of personalisation will evolve in the near future when it comes to employer-employee relationships?
It will play a key role in employee-employer relationship. Very few appreciate one more coffee mug with a company logo as a Christmas gift. But a personalized Birthday gift with a handwritten card tailored to you – that’s a different thing. We all want to feel special. And you feel special only when someone takes an effort and time to make it personalized, or when you are given an opportunity to choose what you want. It’s great to see that there are tools like MELP, helping employers to make that personalization.
At Kilo Health we try to have that personalisation through different methods, eg. we bring “care pack” to colleagues’ homes when they get ill, and we go with flowers to their universities if they get a diploma. However when the organization grows, it becomes very hard to show that level of attention and personalization to everyone. Here, at Kilo Health, we try to adapt to changing circumstances and employee needs. Let’s see where this journey will take us and how our perks & benefits package will look like in the future.