My hometown when I was a student was:
I graduated from Alma in:
At Alma my focus lead me through the business curriculum with a variety of extracurriculars mixed in there. I graduated with a BA in International Business Administration.
I currently live in:
I live in Estonia and I moved back to my hometown about four years ago. Saku is almost like a suburb of Tallinn since the commute is 10 minutes.
I am now:
My focus in life is divided up into three categories: family, work and volunteering. Family is the most important part of my life and with two kids growing up it is a full-time responsibility. In terms of work, I made a switch from the energy sector to finance a few years ago and I am currently working for a bank. I run the development department and lead a team of 12. It is exciting to be part of building a “new” bank that has ambition to disrupt the current way of banking. Mixed in with everything aforementioned, I volunteer for non-profits and my main focus is building the Estonian Lacrosse Federation, so the sport can be enjoyed by many in future.
Since graduating from Alma:
In 2010 I met my wife-to-be and in 2016 we married. In 2017 we grew our family and Erika Kuustik was born and in 2018 Herbert Kuustik, so we are amid the craziness of what it means to be parents. In 2013 I started the national lacrosse program in Estonia with others, so the sport could find a place in the athletic scene in Estonia. That is something that I know that will take more than ten years to establish, but love working on and the kids involved love it as well. Alma gave me good edge in terms of critical thinking that I initially took for granted. In my aim to grow as a professional I found that skill to elevate me more than any other. It gave me a focus that many didn’t have and it allowed me to keep growing and take on more responsibility. Untiring professional industry has been my calling card ever since, so getting things done and done well is important to me professionally. While it is difficult at times, I believe that good business means that there has to be larger benefit to society than just adding to TSR (Total shareholder revenue) and that is the reason why my current position at Coop Bank suits me well.
My Alma education:
Experiences at Alma College gave me a great foundation to do many things incredibly well. I found that the best learning experiences happened both in and out of the classroom. I have fond memories of the time I spent with my professors during their office hours since that kind of benchwarming is what I loved to do. It gave me unique access to experience that extended far beyond the classroom and that benefit was something that I took advantage of during my undergraduate experience. Looking back now I understand that the path I chose was the correct one for me. I took the maximum allowed courses whenever possible and I made sure that my CPA was good, but classroom experiences were just one measure of learning that took place at Alma. For me, the best education came from mixing classroom learning with organizations on campus and putting those lessons into action. I retained more through experiences that connected those lessons and theory. I was active in SIFE (Enactus), Sigma Chi and other campus organizations that cultivated learning as well as kinship. I learned from others and grew alongside my peers, so when you package all of that together in span of four years then you get one amazing education.
My favorite place(s) on campus included:
I enjoyed spending time everywhere, but most of that time cycled between Joe’s, Highland Java and the library, SAC building, SLO, Advancement office, Admissions office, Saga, Sigma Chi house and many other places around campus.
My favorite professor(s) included:
Ron Lemmon, Murray Borrello, Randy Jacques, Will Nichols, Patrick Furlong and Greg Baleja. The list really goes on and on and on…but to name a few.
My most vivid/best memory of my time at Alma is:
My best memory of Alma will always be the whole experience and the people that made it memorable. Ron Lemmon for inspiring me by saying that I can do pretty much anything; Trent Wiederhold for uplifting my spirit at random times by just being himself, warmhearted and good-natured; Lori Hick for always being there for a chat; Will Nichols for letting the Estonian sing in the choirs and uplifting the spirits of everyone with music; Sigma Chi and the brothers for being there during easy and the hard times; Everyone at Alma mattered regardless of position or title and that down to earth approach created all the memories that I will forever cherish!
How Alma has helped with my current plan/job/graduate school/etc.:
Alma College delivered on its mission and I can say that wholeheartedly after I joined the world that comes after college. My education gave me an advantage that has proven itself over and over again in my career and also with everything. That statement alone is the compliment to what Alma did for me.
How I have given back to Alma since graduation
I try to be active and approach my Alma mater with thoughts and ideas when they come and expect nothing more than feedback. I have been able to advise a student from Estonia to go to Alma, so there is much pride in that! Also, with the help of coach Michael Kinney we were able to support the development of Lacrosse in Estonia. I do my part by being active, donating to the college and helping with recruitment efforts whenever possible. I have always said that I am here to help and serve in whatever way I can and that promise does not have an expiration date.
Advice I would give a new graduate:
As a graduate I recommend serious reflection before making choices that impact your experiences and your life. Knowing what you want and what you need to do is an insight that others rarely can help you with in life. Others may support and help you explore those wants and needs, but you alone must figure out what they truly are. Do not be afraid to try, my philosophy for growth professionally and personally is the same. If something doesn’t scare me then it will exist in my comfort zone and as such will not truly challenge me to be better! Failure is a part of learning, so do not be afraid of it, but do learn from others when you can as all experiences do not need to be firsthand.