Hanna Nikkilä, Microsoft
"Use your talent! Go out and read what you enjoy without hesitations. Consider the salary levels in your field, especially for women, in relation to the industry average, as well as employment."
"Don't drift into traditional women's sectors without thinking deeply. If you are used to leadership - as many girls and women are - get into the core business rather than the support function".
Hanna Nikkilä graduated from high school in 1976, from where her path led her to Aalto University's predecessor, Helsinki University of Technology, to study technical physics, majoring in operations analysis. "I chose engineering physics because there was no need to commit to anything, and I knew I had a good education that could lead to a lot of things", Hanna explains. After graduating, she ended up doing traditional IT work: designing information systems and coding. Five years after graduation, Hanna decided to pursue a career as a consultant, and ended up starting and managing Cap Gemini's Finnish business. Since this turning point, Hanna has held responsible management positions and been a member of the management team at companies such as IBM, PwC Consulting, Tieto, Accenture and Microsoft. Hanna's most recent role was at Microsoft's Western European Healthcare unit, where she drove the adoption of the latest technology and innovation in healthcare.
In her current role, Hanna's responsibilities are wide and varied. However, central to all roles has been influencing three key stakeholders to whom Microsoft's healthcare business is connected: customers, partners and social influencers. "My working day consists of meetings with the above, giving presentations at a variety of events - recently focusing on the potential of AI and augmented reality in healthcare - and, of course, collaborating in various forms within the company", Hanna sums up.
Hanna sees a number of positive aspects to her recent work. In particular, she enjoys the opportunity - and the challenge - of learning new things, getting to grips with new issues and being at the "cutting edge" of developments. Hanna also enjoys being able to reflect on what is at the heart of what she has learned and how it should be communicated to each target group. However, she sees the people around her as a crucial factor in enjoying her work. "Ultimately, the best thing about all work, and life in general, is the people around you - talented, ambitious, curious about new things, positive and energetic, caring and collaborative people".
Hanna's impressive career in the business world is a story of many successes. "The biggest successes in business are naturally related to exceeding financial targets, winning the biggest deals, outstandingly successful client projects, excellent quality feedback and positive feedback on collaboration. The best thing about being a manager is seeing people succeed and develop and progress in their careers". However, at certain turning points, she would have liked to have had the support of more experienced people. Hanna feels that this would have given her the courage to make bolder decisions and take on even bigger challenges. In the future, Hanna wants to promote the exploitation of technological opportunities in a variety of ways, both in new companies in emerging industries and in traditional "grassroots" industries.
For whom is this a suitable career option?
Hanna has a clear vision of the kind of person who would make a good consultant:
"Someone who is not satisfied with the way things are today and wants to make a difference and put themselves out there to create new things. This naturally requires talent, hard work, perseverance, ambition, cooperation, open-mindedness, the ability to reconcile different perspectives".
For those considering a career choice, Hanna has some excellent advice: "Use your talent! Go out and read what you enjoy without hesitations. Consider the salary levels in your field, especially for women, in relation to the industry average, as well as employment. Don't drift into traditional women's fields without thinking deeply. If you are used to management - as many girls and women are - get into the core business rather than a support function".
If you're good at maths, Hanna thinks you should seriously consider studying engineering. In many technical fields, even after a search within the sector, there are still a number of different options, from which you can go on to even more different jobs. "At Aalto in particular, you can include studies in engineering, economics and arts in your degree and build yourself an unbeatable package for the future job market. For multi-talented girls, this is a huge opportunity!".