Laura Lares, Ablers Oy
"Demandingness and rigour often come from within people themselves. When you're good enough for yourself, you're good enough for anything!".
What have you studied and how did you choose this option?
When I finished high school, I had to make a difficult choice. Should I go to the University of Joensuu to study my favourite subject, Finnish language, or to Lappeenranta to study production economics to continue the family's industrial tradition? Fortunately, I chose the more challenging one, Production Economics, even though I didn't really know what I would do after graduation. So I graduated in 1990 with a degree in Production Economics. I went on to study industrial business strategy and management, and graduated with a PhD in 1994 while working and mothering.
How did you become a CEO?
My career path is very rich. I started as a Financial Planner at Kymmene in 1990, and progressed to Development Manager at UPM. I worked as a Professor of industrial economics alongside my own job. In 2001, I became Director of the Centre of Excellence at Kareltek and then Senior Lecturer in Management at the Haaga Institute. In 2004 I returned to UPM, first as Business Development and HR Director and then as Sales Director. In 2007 I became CEO of Kalevala jewelry and five years later, in 2012, CEO of Woimistamo. In 2018, I moved to the management of Ablers, where I am now CEO, management coach, strategy consultant, entrepreneur and government professional.
What is the best thing about your job?
The best thing is the freedom of being an entrepreneur: sometimes I work my heart out around the clock, and sometimes I can have fun and rest in my everyday life, at my own pace.
What have been the highlights and most important lessons of your career?
Time and time again, dozens of times, I have, of my own volition, started a new job or task that I don't know how to do. Only last year I started for the first time in a job I already knew how to do. Each time, I have been excited to see if I could learn this whole new world and succeed in it. Every time I am surprised that I learned it and became a good professional in this job too. I never want to be perfect.
What are your expectations for the future?
Next I plan to study algorithms, programming and machine learning, among other things, at the FiTech network university. The offer is really attractive. Building chatbots for customers has been so fascinating that I've found my inner nerd. It's never too late - even for someone who got a typewriter as a graduation present.
What greetings would you like to send to a young woman considering a career choice?
Even the most demanding jobs are human-sized. Demandingness and rigour often come from within people themselves. When you're good enough for yourself, you're good enough for anything! The oddest combinations can produce unique successes. And a lot of joy.
For whom is this a suitable career option?
A career for someone who is curious, a learner, articulate and interactive. Strategic management and leadership development have much in common. Both require the ability to see potential and the ability to get people to move forward. You can't lead things, you can only lead people.