What have you studied and what influenced this choice back in the day?
Back in high school in France I didn’t consider studies in engineering. In fact, I didn’t know first what I wanted to be when I grew up and I wanted to study something broad. First, I considered getting a degree in literature, but then my parents told me that the salaries in the field are not that good. Then I decided to study something related to economics and humanities. After high school, I started studies in a business school in France and graduated with a degree in Business Administration.
Then when I came to Finland, I couldn’t find a job with my degree, because I didn’t have Finnish or Swedish language skills yet. I realized that I need another kind of degree and that led me to studies in former TKK (now Aalto University). I got my master’s in Land Surveying and Land Scaping and minored in Finance and Real Estate in Hanken School of Economics. In a way, I did kind of a double degree combining technology and business.
This kind of combination of two fields suited well for me, because I was able to learn multiple skills. Multidisciplinary skills are also necessary in today’s world, because you need to be a specialist with specific knowledge of a certain field, but you also need to be able to see multiple aspects of your products, clients and team. The world needs generalists who can dive deep. To be able to take multiple things into account in your work is the most important asset to have.
What was your first job after graduation? How did you end up in your current position from there?
I started working as a software testing engineer at Nokia while I was still studying my Master’s. During these times I started self-training myself in software engineering and gained the knowledge through my job. This first job was very technical and I worked a lot with back-end. It was really fun though and we were working in the basements of the Keilaniemi area in Espoo.
As the time went by, two different things impacted in my career growth as a software tester. First of all, I was faster than others and the second, I found more improvements than the others. One day I was blocking an important company release, because I felt that the quality was not what it was supposed to be. At the time, I didn’t have any power at the company, but the company manager came to talk to me and asked me to do the testing so we could release the code. From that on, I got promoted and got to work with other projects and started building a career in system design. After that it was not only about building the software, but also about making it better, improving data and improving quality. Little by little I was getting more and more responsibility and started to have a more holistic approach to my work. I was not afraid to ask the tough questions and to challenge myself. People started to recognize my skills and achievements, which helped me to secure more projects.
I was also resilient. There were two economic crises during my career, which nearly destroyed my career, but instead of letting it get destroyed, I started my own company and started working with a consultancy company. Eventually I started working at Kone, where I was working with their quality and process improvement and helped them to transform the working ways of their IT team. My team actually consisted only women, which is rare in tech. Our team’s responsibility was the development of IT processes.
I worked at Kone for five years and then I saw that a company called Lindström was looking for a technology and IT director to help them to digitalize their business. I applied, got the job and became the youngest CIO in Finland in the company. It was a lot of work, but it is an interesting company with diverse working opportunities. The company offers lots of opportunities for different kinds of talents and people. After the job in Lindström, I became a vice president at Gardner. It was a tough process to get here, but I’m really happy that I have secured this position in my life, which I didn’t think was possible at this age.
What is the best thing about your job?
Best things about my job are my clients and my team. My clients are the biggest companies in the Nordics. What I get to do in my job is amazing, because I can actually influence the technological choices that the leaders of big companies make.
What have been the highlights and key lessons of your career?
When I started on my career, I first thought that the only thing that matters is the outcome. Getting things done is important, but it cannot happen on the expense of people. You need to show people what they do well, not just the things they need to improve. When you are an engineer and focused on getting the product done, you need to also respect the environment where you are working. Part of that learning is that, when you are really trying to make a change and something big, make sure that you have a mandate and that people really want you to help with that. People need to understand why you are helping them. You need to spend enough time to build a trust within people. My key lesson is that you won’t succeed alone. You have to have the others with you.
What are your plans and goals in the future?
From the career point of view, my goal is to go towards what matters to me. I will be growing my career and finding the balance between helping others and doing what I do well. I’m working with
the International Working Women – association, which we build for foreigners in Finland. There are talented young women engineers who are struggling to find work, because they don’t speak the language or have networks. I want to make these women more visible and bring them more power in the field, because the society would benefit from having these women working. My goal is to continue to grow and learn and to have career that fulfills me and makes me happy. I also want to make society more equal. This could be done by encouraging young women to study science.
What kind of person is suitable for your profession?
My profession requires that you have three capabilities. First is the human-focus, which is making sure that everything is benefitting and being aware of the human impact. The second is business-savvy mindset and ability make rational and sustainable business choices. Third is technology background, because it is necessary to understand engineering point of view and have experience from technical projects.
In my position it is important that you are not just a specialist. You need to be able to lead a team, manage the content and many of the tasks are very multidisciplinary. You also need to have a little artistic side, because you get to do lot of slides.
Your greetings for young women in high school deliberating their future career?
Don’t worry. You have lot of time to go back and forth. Learn from your mistakes, try out different careers, do things that make you happy. There is no right or wrong choices, just start from the corner. Don’t be afraid to take different directions and deep dive. We are too pressured to make perfect choices, but life always happens.
The most important thing you can do is cultivate adaptability, open mind and curiosity and if you do all these, you will be fine. The world is a place with more opportunities than any time ever. It is just about keeping your eyes open and knowing that there is no right or wrong answer. Deliberate what makes you happy.