I will be joining Salesforce in September

I got some exciting news to share: I will join the ranks of a company called Salesforce starting from September! Salesforce is a fast-growing, US-based cloud computing company that provides cloud-based Customer Relationship Management products. Salesforce is known for being among the first to provide cloud-based CRM software, and for helping transition the CRM industry from heavy on-premise solutions to much nimbler and less expensive cloud services.

I was recently accepted to Salesforce’s Success Graduate Program, which is a 12-month program that trains and prepares new graduates to various business consulting and technical consulting positions within the company. I will be moving to Amsterdam in September, and will live there for at least the duration of the program. My final position and role will be decided after the program has ended.

I am super excited to work for Salesforce! Salesforce has an awesome company culture, and the company has been on the list of great places to work for nine years, and was ranked on place 8 in 2017. Salesforce emphasizes trust and transparency as key parts of its culture, which I got a glimpse of when I visited Salesforce’s Amsterdam office in January.

I’m particularly excited to join Salesforce because of Salesforce’s deep focus on creating customer value. Based on my experience, many businesses appear more focused on creating shareholder value and profits than providing superior services. Obviously, the purpose of business is to also make money for its owners, but in my view, the order of priority should be to first create customer value, then shareholder value. Therefore, I’m happy that one of Salesforce’s core values is Customer Success, meaning that every action taken should ultimately result in more value to customers.

My graduate profile was highlighted in Salesforce’s company blog, which you can read here: https://www.salesforce.com/company/careers/futureforce-university/

Before moving to Amsterdam, I will be on a holiday and enjoy the summer in Finland.

What’s up with JP?

I haven’t been blogging for a while, so I decided that an update is in order. Several things have happened recently that I’m really happy about:

I landed a summer job in Tieto Corporation

I was hired for a marketing position in a small team inside Tieto Corporation, one of the largest IT companies in northern Europe. I had the opportunity to apply things that I’ve learned about content marketing, as well as learn new skills along the way. One highlight was a marketing workshop that I facilitated, and which helped our team improve our marketing efforts. I was able to leverage my experience from all the different workshops that we’ve held in the Creative Sustainability master’s degree program.

I began working as a research assistant in Aalto University

Now that the summer is over, I switched back to Aalto University and am now working as a research assistant in two projects: RECIBI, which is about the renewal of Finnish manufacturing industries into circular economy practices, and Smart Energy Transitions (SET), where I’m contributing to the study of the emerging Mobility as a Service (MaaS) schemes in Finland. My main contribution will be my master’s thesis research about MaaS ecosystems.

So, what the heck is MaaS? Shortly put, it basically means that there’s a new service provider that bundles all existing forms of transportation under one service. From the point of the user, it means that you are dealing with only one mobility service provider, instead of dealing with every provider separately. The interface might be a simple mobile application, but the main idea is to create an ecosystem of service providers that each contribute one part of the overall service.

I met Sampo Hietanen, founder and CEO of MaaS Global, and he emphasised that MaaS services are first and foremost based on trust. The user needs to be able to trust that the service provider gets the user to his or hers desired destination as reliably as a private car would. If this cannot be guaranteed, getting people to shift from cars to MaaS will be difficult.

There are several MaaS schemes ongoing in Finland, some of whom have already gotten international acclaim:

I will be updating about how the MaaS scheme is evolving in Finland as I learn more. I have my fingers crossed for all the companies and research projects that are trying to make a change for a better transportation system!

Until next time!

 

Update on 30-day comfort zone challenge and what I’ve learned so far

I wrote about lying around on the pavement a few weeks ago and if you followed me on twitter, you saw my endeavors in real time. You might have also noticed that, being a cheap bastard, I was mostly wearing just one pair of trousers and shoes the whole time (don’t worry, I do wash my clothes. I just don’t go outside when they’re drying up).

In any case, the comfort zone challenge is 3/4 ways through and I am at 80 seconds at the moment. Next week will be the last week of the challenge, and at this point I wanted to share a few things I’ve noticed so far.

Without any further ado, here are two things I’ve learned spending time on the sidewalk.

Most people don’t pay any attention

The biggest thing that I was afraid of at the beginning was being approached by people or getting odd looks. Of course being afraid of such things is completely irrational and the whole point of the exercise is to go towards fears in order to conquer them. However, soon after starting the challenge I noticed two things: Firstly, most people don’t even pay attention, and secondly, as long as I showed some sings of life – for example fidgeting in anxiety – no one was ever interested in asking what the heck was I doing. So in the end no one even cared (what a relief!)

Furthermore, even when I did spark someone’s interest, people are pretty good at hiding their curiosity. I think most people either pretend there’s nothing odd going on, or try to find a rational explanation for odd behavior. This is because people want to avoid feeling embarrassed for other people, and both behaviors help alleviate the uncomfortable feeling that arises when you see someone making a fool out of him or herself.

Uncomfortable times at my home street.

Uncomfortable times at my home street.

The discomfort doesn’t go away – you just get used to it

I was partly expecting that after a week on the challenge I would feel somewhat indifferent about lying on the street. I didn’t, however, and I still feel quite uncomfortable whenever I’m at it. But what did happen was that I got used to feeling uncomfortable, which I think is the most important thing to learn from this ordeal.

In my mind, becoming used to being afraid is much better than abolishing fear completely. This is because being okay with being afraid is a skill you can use throughout your life. If you can handle uncomfortable situations rather than avoiding them, you are more able to take action whenever necessary. For example, standing up to bullies, saying no when you need to, and pursuing your dreams all require going outside your comfort zone. If you have already developed the habit of getting into uncomfortable situations, it’s more likely that you will take action when it is required.

What a bright and uncomfortable morning it was!

What a bright and uncomfortable morning it was!

Furthermore, it is the act of going towards your fears that creates courage, not the other way around. You don’t first become courageous and then take action. I think this is something that a lot of people get mixed up, including yours truly, mainly because they compare themselves to other people who already act boldly. Courage is a muscle you need to train, and going outside your comfort zone is like going to the gym. Moreover, if you don’t use your courage muscle, it will become soft and flabby and won’t have the necessary strength for you to pursue your goals and dreams.

Thank you for reading, and please, do share your thoughts! Have you done something similar? How are you building your courage muscle? Drop me a line below and let’s have a chat!

What I Learned Working In a Think Tank

This Spring I successfully sneaked my way into one of the leading think tanks in Finland, Demos Helsinki, and had an opportunity to see what the heck actually happens inside a think tank. To be more exact, I worked at Demos Effect, which is the management consulting arm of Demos Helsinki. Below are some of the things I learned.

We need more gym equipment in offices

During the past year or so I have had terrible neck pains from time to time due to sitting too much in front of my computer. It’s bad enough to spend most of your work day staring at the screen, but writing my blog and studying after work really breaks my back quite literally. However, I have learned that having training equipment and standing workstations in the office can have a huge impact on your well-being. Even having minimal equipment, such as a pull-up bar, in the office makes it more likely that you will take breaks and develop the habit of stretching your muscles during work.

What I really recommend is having a couple of kettle bells lying around in your office (just make sure no one trips on them!).

kettlebell-411605_640

 

It’s really possible to love your work

This didn’t really surprise me all that much, as I do believe that work should not be a drag, but a source of inspiration and fulfillment. While I don’t believe that you can or should enjoy every second of your work, I do think that overall your work should be something that you inherently enjoy doing. Working at Demos Helsinki strengthened this belief, and as I told my supervisor Johanna at the beginning of my internship, I was finally being paid for doing something I had previously done for free on my past time. I could also see that everyone working at Demos were there because they really wanted to, and not because of all the cookies and candies that were left over from meetings (although I do think the free coffee might have had some influence).

Chocolate chip cookies

Cookies and candies were abundant at Demos Helsinki.

 

We do need people thinking about things

I also learned that we actually do need organizations and individuals that spend time thinking things trough for the rest of us. It is very easy to get stuck in short-term thinking and to focus mostly on one’s own little world. Thinking-outside-the-box has become a cliché, but the box is alive and real, and can have a detrimental effect on thinking. This is true especially for large organizations and institutions, where individuals are restricted by strict rules, standard procedures and organizational boundaries.

Furthermore, as the world becomes ever more interconnected and everything has an effect on everything else, it is ever more important that we develop the ability to see the bigger picture and to question existing mental models. Although it would be best if everyone did some soul-searching regularly, I think it’s good that we also have people dedicated to searching people’s souls for them.

Baby-thinking

When was the last time you stopped to really think for a moment?

 

Some large companies actually do something about sustainability

This might be hard to swallow at first, but some large organizations do give a crap about sustainability. And more importantly, they give a crap because they’re starting to see that it makes good business sense. Companies have started to see that climate change, depletion of natural resources and all the other shitstorms headed our way actually have a major impact on their businesses – but also present new opportunities. For example, Lassila & Tikanoja has placed circular economy at the core of their strategy. And while big talk and greenwashing is very common these days, based on what I saw while working at Demos Effect, some companies really do want to take action and create circular businesses.

Bad news for little boys:

Bad news for little boys: carbage man is no more, but you know who’s really cool? – the resource collector.

Have you worked in a think tank? Would you work without the free coffee and cookies? Do you use kettlebells in your office? Please share your thoughts in the comments!

Creative Commons Chocolate chip cookies by Brian Richardson is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

Back to Business

Having recently switched from my blog ‘System Studies’ to a full-blown personal website I wanted to share what’s been going on lately with the blog and with my own life. In this blog post I will also give a small peak into some of the topics I’ll be writing about in the near future.

I recently began an internship in a Finnish management consultancy called Demos Effect, which helps big, incumbent companies develop new business based on resource efficiency. Demos Effect uses foresight and consumer behavior research combined with co-creation methods to help companies such as Fazer, Unilever and Fortum develop resource smart business models, products and services. As the company combines elements of all of my interests – sustainability, systems thinking, design thinking and business management – I think it’s needless to say that I am very excited about my internship!

Related to my internship, I finally finished my Bachelor’s thesis research work, titled ‘Design Thinking in Strategy Development: Case Kolmas Persoona’. Writing the research work drained a lot of my energy, which is why it’s been a bit quiet with the blog during the past month or so. However, with the research work over I intend to carry on posting regularly about systems thinking, design thinking and sustainability issues.

Aside from beginning my internship and finishing my bachelor’s thesis work, I have been busy finishing my applications to Aalto University. There are two master’s degree programmes that I’m especially interested in Aalto University: the Creative Sustainability programme and the International Design Business Management programme. I hope to be starting my graduate studies in either one next fall. I’m very excited about these two programmes because both combine systems thinking, design thinking, technology and business under one, interdisciplinary programme.

But enough of me. Here are some of the topics I will be posting about in the near future:

  • Resource efficient business. Building on what I’ve learned from Demos Effect, I want to discuss how some inspiring startups have developed business models that build on sustainability and resource efficiency.
  • Stock and flow part 2. This is definitely a topic I’ve been procrastinating on quite a while now. I will jump on this subject as soon as possible as it is an important area of systems thinking.
  • Systems dynamics examples. Building on stock and flow part 1 and 2 I will introduce some basic systems dynamics examples and talk about how you can build systems models.
  • Introduction to Design Thinking. While I have somewhat little hands-on experience about working on design projects, I do know what some of the most prominent scholars of design thinking have written about the subject. Design thinking and systems thinking are very much related concepts and I feel that if you’re interested in either one, you should know about the other as well.
  • Wicked problems. I have briefly touched on this topic in my post ‘Wicked opportunities in sustainability’, but I feel wicked problems is such an important topic that we need to discuss it in a separate post.

If you’re interested in any of the above topics I think you’ll be interested in the others as well. Although I write about the above topics I don’t claim to be an expert in any of them. I am very excited to learn more and I do my best to share what I have learned with you. Please do write on the comments if you disagree with me on any of these subjects or just want to share your own thoughts!