Meet Lauri, the New Driving Force Behind kood/Jõhvi

On the 1st of April 2024, Lauri Haav joined us at kood/Jõhvi. Who is Lauri, why did he join kood/, what are his ambitions for the school, and what advice does he have for our students? We asked all these questions and more in an introduction interview with him. Join us for a closer look at our new CEO, who’s not just preparing students for the future, but actively shaping it.

Lauri Haav

Lauri, could you please tell us about your background, what did you do before joining kood/Jõhvi?

Over the last 25 years, I’ve involved myself in the tech industry, starting at Helmes, where I gained hands-on business skills in a peer-learning environment – similar to the kood/Jõhvi coding school. This experience proved more instrumental in my business education than my formal studies at Tartu University and Concordia International.

Leveraging these skills, I co-founded MarkIT.eu, an e-commerce platform, during the 2003 dot-com bust. Notably, it was among the first startups to receive funding from Skype’s founders through Ambient Sound Investments. Today, MarkIT.eu boasts an annual revenue of €200M and operates in 45 global markets.

Years later, I joined the fintech company Monese in the UK, helping to scale the business and spearhead its support functions and international expansion. At its growth peak, Monese opened 100,000 new banking accounts monthly – a rate surpassing the combined efforts of all financial institutions in the Baltics over a year.

Before my current role at kood/Jõhvi, I led the strategy overhaul at Proekspert and served as the Managing Director of Estonia’s e-Residency program. My final role before kood/Jõhvi was leading growth at Salv, a startup combating financial crime.

These roles have a common thread: they are all export-oriented Estonian tech ventures that leverage the nation’s engineering and product development capabilities to make a global impact.

Why did you decide to join kood/Jõhvi?

I’ve always loved learning, it’s a lifelong hobby, but I had a challenging relationship with my teachers, especially during the USSR times. The traditional educational system and I did not mesh well. At kood/Jõhvi, we’ve created a teacher-free environment that caters to self-motivated learners who thrive on solving problems at their own pace – what’s not to like?

Jokes aside, I’m naturally attracted to organisations with a clear mission and vision, and the vision of the //kood founders deeply resonates with me. The current stage of the school’s development aligns well with my leadership skills, offering ample opportunity for experimentation and scaling before settling into maintenance and fine-tuning, which are not my greater forte.

Lauri and the heads of state of Iceland and Estonia, President Guðni Thorlacius Jóhannesson and President Alar Karis.

Who is Lauri Haav as a person?

A curious and optimistic human being, covered by a thin veneer of pragmatism.

What is your favourite book and why?

Oh, boy! There are so many! I’m a very avid reader, or shall we say, listener. In the era of Audible to which I’ve been a faithful subscriber since 2016, I get through 3-4 books a month on average, so to choose a favourite is quite hard so I’ll name two.
Fiction: Cixin Liu’s The Three Body Problem, recently turned into a Netflix series, must be one of the greatest hard science fiction (and by hard I mean volume… Over 1500 pages!) series since Asimov’s Foundation saga.
Non-Fiction: Safi Bahcall’s Loonshots – How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries. I was so taken in by this one that I ordered 2 boxes of the title when I joined public service (e-Residency) and distributed hard copies to all leaders and public servants I met!

And the final question… You probably hired hundreds of people, could you suggest 3 things what not to say or do during the interview?

Not exactly hundreds but about a hundred yes, which means having interviewed 6-7x as many but perhaps my experience as the interviewee comes in handy here as well, so here goes:
1.  You should really want that job and to be part of the company you apply for – if you don’t, it will come through with any skilful interviewer worth their salt.
2.  Be mindful of the time and don’t spend too much of it over explaining and answering your own worst fear. There is rarely enough time to cover all aspects in an interview so don’t waste it or you might spend time on trivia and miss the main course.
3.  Be confident. You are an up-and-coming professional who knows their worth.
And lastly, as the saying goes: fail to prepare, prepare to fail! Research the firm, their needs and wants for the position, do a mock interview with an AI agent, think through what do you want the interviewer to know about you, how do you want them to feel at the end.  

Are you not a kood/Jõhvi student yet? Join us now!