Leadership is learned from trial and error. It is the only path to good leadership, and I’ve never come across one good leader who deviated from that. It is the taking of responsibility of enabling the success of others.
I’m all about catchphrases
It all started in the nineties, as a student in my mid twenties. My mother suggested an MBA to complement my Master’s degree in history, which really wasn’t serving me well professionally. I took her advice, and enrolled into an international MBA program in Finland. This ultimately propelled me into a career in business.
The past is finally here
My first consulting job was at Razorfish, a pioneer in digitalisation. I’m all about catchphrases, but hate people who parrot “The future is here” or “the future is now”. First, it’s a terrible cliché. Second, reflecting on those dot com days, and what we were trying to do and accomplish in Razorfish, I’d say the accurate catchphrase would be “The past is here now, finally”.
After working for the high octane Razorfish for about a year and a half, I figured I needed more stability. The solution appeared while pitching an online project to a major Nordic bank and although the pitch fell through, I was offered a job by the bank. I jumped at the opportunity, and the timing couldn’t have been better. The week I signed with Nordea bank, Razorfish closed its office in Helsinki.
My work at the bank started with odds and ends in online service development, ranging from content management processes and rollouts to actually running a program to replace the first generation of Nordea’s online banking services. During that time (2005), I realised I had given all I can to the internet, and I jumped ship to the true business of banking, working on segmentation and retail strategy development. That progressed quickly to me being put in charge of a product unit for some core banking products, and later I was promoted to run an international product development unit.
Throughout my career in Nordea, I was always able to ask for a new challenge and receive something difficult to solve. It has been the source of my motivation to stick to banking and especially Nordea. It took me to the Baltic states and Poland, working on value proposition and segmentation development for retail banking, and eventually into joining Nordea’s sales organisation in 2013.
I worked in regional management with a dozen branches reporting to me directly in the capital region of Finland. The work mostly revolved around sales management and the leadership it entailed. I truly treasure those years, as a lot of my experiences, opinions and ideas on leadership are from that period. It was my first position which required leading leaders. Also, it was about traditional banking sales, where human contact was still essential for successful sales.
The head office eventually called me back to found a mortgage bank, and then to run it as CEO. We set it up, under direct European Central Bank supervision. After building and fine tuning it for a couple of years, it was time for me to move on from Nordea.
I jumped into a very small mono-line niche player in the Finnish mortgage market, to work exclusively in their core banking replacement project. This propelled me to my current job and back closer to technology with a financial services solutions perspective.