Chief of staff of the government of the Republic of Lithuania Milda Dargužaitė announced her resignation on Friday, having worked in the post for only 11 months. According to public relations specialist Arijus Katauskas, this is an example of how an individual who worked and received an education abroad is praised in Lithuania, presented as superior to those living here, however having begun work in state service realises that things are different to working in the private sector.
Having finished a BA in Economics and Mathematics at the US Middlebury College and obtained a master’s degree in Operations Research and Financial Engineering at Princeton University, M. Dargužaitė began her career in 1999 at the Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette investment bank in New York, later working at the Goldman Sachs investment bank, having been its vice president, the co-head of its strategic asset allocation group and member of its trust investment, risk, new products and philanthropic committees.
M. Dargužaitė returned to Lithuania at the invitation of then Prime Minister Andrius Kubilius and became advisor to then Minister of Economy Rimantas Žylius in summer 2011. In Lithuania M. Dargužaitė’s career did not last in any single workplace.
In February 2014 M. Dargužaitė withdrew from the post of director general at Invest Lithuania. She led the British bank Barclays technology centre from March to December 2015, but withdrew from the post. Prior to becoming the government chief of staff, M. Dargužaitė was a board member of the Danish company Northern Horizon Capital.
M. Dargužaitė was invited to join the Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats in the municipal elections, but in an interview with Lietuvos Žinios she said that the proposal to aim for the position of council member, but not mayor would be undervaluing her. M. Dargužaitė did not participate in the elections, explaining that she was misunderstood by journalists.
Journalist Andrius Tapinas stated on Friday that he already expected that M. Dargužaitė would not remain in the government chancellery for long.
“When Milda Dargužaitė was appointed government chief of staff on December 13 last year, many discussed whether she would last a year or not. I was on the side that with the prime minister’s personal trust, she would work for at least a year before leaving to seek new challenges.
I lost. 11 months,” A. Tapinas writes on Facebook.
A. Katauskas: it was only a question when she would leave
Public relations specialist A. Katauskas notes that individuals who worked and obtained their education abroad are praised in Lithuania, they have great expectations associated with them, however working in the private sector is not the same as state service.
“There is one thing that is little discussed – praise. Over here we are have no discussion about those who gained experience in business and somehow there is this belief that they are perfectly suited for state service.
State service is a completely different affair and it is obvious. I believe that with both M. Dargužaitė’s arrival, as with leaving from organisations, starting with Invest Lithuania, ending with the current chief of staff position, we should begin considering how it is not always that business experience is best where decisions are not made by stock holders, but instead decision making is on another basis,” A. Katauskas told Delfi.
According to A. Katauskas, often when attracting young leaders from abroad, their experience in business structures, foreign university educations are seen as an undoubtable advantage. “It is as if it immediately means that they are a whole head above those in Lithuania. This is how automatically people’s expectations are raised,” the communications specialist explains.
He notes that unlike in business it is not enough to obtain the permission of stock holders, leaders and begin a cadre overhaul. Meanwhile in the case of M. Dargužaitė he says it could be seen. It was also reflected in the public sphere. In March the government chancellery staff gathered signatures for a petition asking Prime Minister Saulius Skvernelis to decide on the chief of staff’s ability to continue leading.
According to A. Katauskas it is clear that what happens in businesses where you have far more powers and where the rules are different is not suitable for the bureaucratic mechanism. A different approach is needed here.
“This is where I think she failed and I believe we all do. (…) On one hand we immediately create a saviour halo for the arriving individual, we create massive pressure for them from the public sphere that they will come and make things happen, they start doing things, but later realise that the underlying mechanism is completely different to that in business,” A. Katauskas explained.
As such, he notes, after the scandal over chancellery reform, it was only a question of time when M. Dargužaitė would be forced to resign.
M. Dargužaitė: preparing for new challenges
“Today I announced my resignation from the post of government chief of staff. I thought this step through well and informed the prime minister ahead of time, so as to ensure the continuity of work. I am very grateful to him for the opportunity provided and his trust in performing important changes in the public sector.
Over this year I succeeded in breaking the ice and beginning to consolidate overlapping accountancy and personnel administration functions, which will save 40 million euro annually in the future. The ice also finally moved out in state IT management – a single management bureau will be established and the IT infrastructure consolidated. This will not only save millions per year, but most importantly will ensure that e-services for citizens and business will be convenient and integrated throughout various institutions.
But most importantly I believe that attitudes are beginning to change in state institutions, more enthusiasm is emerging, intent to seek better results, work more effectively. Over this year I met numerous excellent, motivated people who earnestly work for the betterment of the state. I value their massive contribution in implementing crucial changes for our country.
Inevitably all reforms also face strong opposition and various emotions. However this should not halt currently very important reforms in various areas. I greatly hope that the initiated changes will continue and will be implemented quickly and successfully.
After this lengthy and purposeful year I am preparing for new challenges,” M. Dargužaitė wrote on her Facebook page on Friday.