1. How would you describe your political/leadership style in three words?
Fact-based, future-oriented, human-centric. I believe in motivating people, not ordering them around. As a politician, I try to base my decisions on the best possible information available, but plan for the future, keeping in mind much of today’s data won’t hold forever.
2. What one item would you save from your house or apartment if it was on fire?
I’d like to say something important and romantic such as a painting or a photo album, but in fact I’d grab my mobile phone. My children would hate me for not saving their violins or football gear, but I’m pretty sure they, too, would save their phones. In the EU, some people and politicians have criticised the fact that many asylum seekers fleeing Syria carry smartphones. I don’t see anything unusual in that. They, too, have decided to grab a phone when their house - or in this case their whole country - is on fire.
3. Is there anything you have personally achieved or done that would surprise people?
Most people I work with know I’m an engineer, but they don’t know that in my late teens and early 20s, I was a semi-professional piano player touring around Europe and the US with a band. As a student I worked as a piano teacher for kids. My love of both hard sciences and culture has followed me throughout my career and can be seen in my work. Without engineers, people would die, but without culture, they wouldn’t have a reason to live.
4. What is the most humbling thing you have experienced in your career?
I negotiated the final part of the roaming legislation. Until June 2017, when you travelled to another EU country, your mobile operator would bill you at a higher rate for your mobile communications. Last year, roaming charges were finally abolished in the EU. It has been extremely humbling to meet people around Europe, from a Tesla engineer in Belgium to a 17-year-old in Barcelona, from a Finnish exchange student in Paris to a Polish father of two and hear them say thank you for removing roaming charges. It’s been an honour to be part of a process which brings the EU and its citizens together.
5. What do you do in your free time to relax and unwind?
I don’t just talk about forests and bio-industry, I actually spend time in the woods. Hiking with my family is a dear hobby. On top of that, our book club gathers every month and forces me to read something other than work-related books. Finland is more of a hockey country than a football superpower, but moving to Belgium has turned me into a football mum. Judging by the amount of time I spend on different activities, my favourite hobby must be taking my kids to their hobbies.
For more 5Qs, get to know Peter Kouroumbashev.