"Find the people amidst the digitalization" – A conversation with Mia Sirkiä, Chairperson of our board
As the autumn season kicked off, we conducted an interview with our board chairperson, Mia Sirkiä, discussing both the economic situation and future megatrends.
Mia serves as the CEO of Saari Partners, a private equity investment company. Throughout her career, she has gained experience ranging from management consulting to sales and marketing, from Nokia to advertising agencies, and from there to board positions. Let’s see what’s on Mia’s mind!
Hi, Mia! How has the autumn started for you?
Although I’m a summer person, there’s a lot of inspiration in the fall. People return from vacations refreshed, and it seems like there’s a lot of enthusiasm in companies to get things done, which is always nice. However, the general economic uncertainty affects many businesses and households right now, as we don’t precisely know where the economy is heading. So, it might be a challenging autumn in that sense.
Describe the key principles of Saari Partners – what sets you apart from others?
We have a different background compared to other players. Instead of a financial consulting background, all of our partners have operational backgrounds. This means we understand the everyday life of companies and can bring a different perspective, support, and assistance to development projects. I have done a lot of branding, marketing, and sales work, and my colleagues have led digitalization projects. So, we’re not just at PowerPoint level; we’ve all done these things ourselves.
How does the economic situation look in the Finnish market this autumn?
I don’t want to give any forecasts because no one knows exactly where we are heading. Uncertainty, rising interest rates, inflation, and geopolitical issues are affecting the situation. At the same time, we still need to move forward with digitalization. I believe the companies that invest in digitalization are the ones that will succeed in the future. If all investments are put on hold – especially the development of technological expertise – we will be in a quite dire situation a couple of years from now. And sales expertise will be needed a lot, especially when times are not easy.
In your opinion, what are the most important megatrends that companies need to consider when planning for the future?
My answer is not because this interview is for Hion’s blog, but digitalization and leveraging technology will be crucial and will define the future winners. Technologies need to be adopted to improve efficiency, enhance services, or products. If you completely miss this boat, it’s not a recipe for success for anyone. Of course, there are other aspects, such as sustainability, meaning everything done must be on a sustainable basis, and in this regard, there are no other options in the future – but utilizing technology can create even more competitive advantage.
The development of green digital services and sustainable digitalization in general, are included in Hion’s strategy and play a crucial role in our operations. What role does sustainability play for companies’ operations and competitiveness?
Investing in sustainability is absolutely necessary in the future. Managing sustainability issues will be the so-called ‘License to Operate,’ meaning without it, operating will be almost impossible.
You mentioned that leveraging technology will be crucial for companies. How can companies boldly harness technology?
By understanding that digitalization is part of continuous business development. So, it’s not just about a digitalization project and then thinking it’s done; it’s about understanding that it’s continuous work. Sometimes, more emphasis can be put on it, and sometimes less, but it’s essential to use technology in business and understand that mindset. Companies spend money on salaries and premises – in the same way, technology and digitalization should be seen as a permanent area of development that needs to be invested in and continuously managed. First, think about what you want and what will benefit you the most, don’t just follow trends. It’s better to spend time finding your own strategy and the right partner to work with.
What is the most important lesson you have learned from your career?
Amidst all technology, it’s essential to remember that we work with people; we create projects for people, and customers are people. Find the people and their needs amidst the digitalization, and how things are done together. Focus on defining what needs to be done, understand the customer as a human being, and understand the organization’s needs, so we do the right things – whether it’s about making work easier or streamlining processes. This cannot be emphasized enough; let’s not always lead with technology but think about what we are doing and who it serves.