For the longest time, I felt the need to explain why I work in tech – as if there needed to be a story behind my career path. “My brother was super into coding back in the 80s!”. In reality, my brother has nothing to do with my career.
So, let me start this blog by saying I have always been curious about digitalization and developing technologies. That’s the real reason I work in tech!
Pivotal study choice and the first career step
I chose to pursue a degree in international business, because I felt it covered a wide range of topics. What was really pivotal to me at that age, however, was doing my minor studies in IDBM, international design business management. The IDBM program combined studies from three different schools, enabling students to take courses and learn in two more schools. The final assignment was a multidisciplinary project that we did for organizations. It was a fantastic experience, I got to work hands-on with people with various backgrounds and totally new perspectives!
As I was finalizing my studies at the Helsinki University of Technology at the beginning of 2000, I could really sense something special happening. The first wave of the Internet had rushed over the world and Finland too – and that scene intrigued me. After graduating, I took my first step in digital business as I started my first entry-level job at Sonera.
Pauliina Luhtanen, Chief Business Officer, Reaktor
Career path: From assisting in projects to delivering an online banking system to Kenya
Even though I don’t have technical skills, I’ve always regocnized a need for the talent and expertise I do have. I’ve also always been very willing to learn about the tech side of things, and also done my fair share of googling and asking for help from people wiser than me.
I have built my career step-by-step: at first, assisting in a big project at Sonera and seeing what it takes to build new digital solutions. From there, I ventured on to work at a big consultancy firm and learned how to really run businesses. I grew a lot as a professional and learned the importance of not only “moving forward in the ladder”, but sideways too – meaning I gathered insights from different functions and industries. During my time as a consultant, I also moved from Finnish clients to international ones. Once I delivered an online banking system to Kenya! It was a demanding experience, but a rewarding one too. I’m very grateful to have been able to continuously learn from people around me.
From there I switched to a design agency. Back then, the new approach was mind-blowing to me. The focus shifted from business-oriented approach to learning how to combine customer expectations with the newest trends – in other words, what it takes to create great design.
Life at Reaktor
I joined the forces at Reaktor seven years ago. I immediately felt like I was a part of something special. The people, the culture, the ways of working… there was something there. I had been following the company for years, and felt privileged to be part of it now.
What I’ve really valued over the years is the ability to modify my role and responsibilities. This August, I was appointed the Chief Business Officer and also joined Reaktor Executive Committee. In my current role, I’m in charge of international business, which means I have shifted from hands-on projects to overlooking and supporting the development of multiple business areas.
“My best tip, and I actually believe this applies to a broader context than just one’s career, is to not rush. I have built my own career slowly, remaining curious and open to learning new.
Everything we do teaches us something. Build your expertise and vision at your own pace. Collect different perspectives. It’s true that growth happens outside your comfort zone – but staying there can be quite a heavy load, too. You don’t have to spend your whole life outside of your comfort zone.”
People are undoubtedly the best part of the job. My colleagues, our customer project teams, and the different stakeholders I get to work with are all amazing. We have good people at Reaktor, and we work with good people. To name a few highlights from the years, I’ve gotten to work with fantastic teams from Supercell, Ikea, and OP.
At Reaktor, we share the ambition to improve ourselves. It’s an awesome ideology and really embedded in our culture! What ever we do and know today, we can always improve on and do better tomorrow. Of course, the other side of always trying to improve is also learning how to stop and celebrate victories. We are entitled to feel proud of our accomplishments so far, and we should always make time to cherish those moments.
My two cents for future talent
Being a woman in tech means you belong to a minority. I’ll be honest, there have been challenges that have come with that. I believe many organizations, like Reaktor, recognize this and are working towards changing the current. The reality is that, as women, we face situations men do not. How often do men get commented on their bubbly personalities for example? The field has gotten a little bit better, but work still remains to be done. One’s competence or worth should never be tied to any external or internal characteristic.
As I have mentioned a few times in this blog, I have been fortunate to learn from more experienced people around me, all throughout my career. I believe role models, representation, and relatable supervisors play a major role in our careers! It may be a cliche, but the saying “If you can see them, you can be them” holds a lot of truth in my experience. This is something for organizations to keep in mind, too, because the benefits of having diverse talent in all areas of business are undeniable.
My best tip, and I actually believe this applies to a broader context than just one’s career, is to not rush. I have built my own career slowly, remaining curious and open to learning new.
Everything we do teaches us something. Build your expertise and vision at your own pace. Collect different perspectives. It’s true that growth happens outside your comfort zone – but staying there can be quite a heavy load, too. You don’t have to spend your whole life outside of your comfort zone.
Pauliina Luhtanen, Chief Business Officer, Reaktor