Our superhero Emma Paajanen is not afraid to step outside her comfort zone

Content marketing professional Emma Paajanen has always had a passion for learning. That passion has earned her many challenging positions – while taking her all around the world. Recently, Emma shared her thoughts with us on learning and her most important guidelines as a leader.

“Never stop learning” is an excellent piece of advice. And that has been the personal and professional mantra of Emma Paajanen, F-Secure’s B2B content marketing lead, for as long as she can remember. Indeed, when she was just a few years old and taken to an ice skating rink, Emma was more captivated by learning to read the texts along the sides of the rink than by actually skating.

“I’ve always had a tendency to do things the hard way. After I had finished my Bachelor’s degree, I did an HR summer internship with Carrefour in Seville, Spain. It was only after I had arrived that I realized it might have been a good idea to refresh my Spanish skills a bit beforehand, because I couldn’t really participate in my colleagues’ discussions, let alone learn how payroll worked. But I took it as a challenge, and by the end of the summer, I was already quite fluent”, Emma laughs.

Step outside your comfort zone

While still completing her Master’s degree at Aalto University, Emma started working for a communications consultancy and later landed a job in marketing – a field she was not familiar with at all.

“Having studied international business and management, I had actually never thought I would end up in marketing and communications. But again, this strange desire to jump into the unknown led me to accept a job offer from F-Secure right after graduation. I had zero clue what my colleagues were referring to when they told me that I would be responsible for marketing automation and online lead generation, but I was determined to find out and excel in my duties”, Emma recalls.

And that experience brought her into the field in which she has remained ever since. Despite her young age, Emma has already built an impressive career within global marketing and communications. And there’s no end to the steep learning curve in sight.

“I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t gone outside my comfort zone – many times. I have also always followed my heart in big decisions. Not all career-defining decisions can be rationally reasoned out, but you just have to just trust your gut feeling and believe that you’ll do well, no matter what. I have definitely made choices along my career that others have perceived as totally irrational. But looking back, I don’t really have any regrets”, Emma explains.

The recipe for a successful leader

In addition to developing herself, Emma has always had another important factor steering her career: working with people. That has taken her to a point where she is now leading her own team. After hearing her speak and observing her presence, it is easy to see she is a well-liked colleague and manager. Here are six important guidelines for being an excellent boss that we learned from Emma:

  • Enable others’ work. As a leader, your job is to remove “roadblocks” and make sure your team members have the necessary abilities to do their jobs in the best way possible.
  • Be there for the people you manage – in the moments of both success and failure as well as through organizational change.
  • Create an open and transparent working culture. Share information, set clear objectives, and give direct feedback.
  • Encourage and embrace different opinions. Promote a culture where collaboration is valued and team members dare to share their opinions, even if they differ from yours.
  • Simply remember to say “thank you” often enough – publicly and privately.
  • Build team spirit with small touches, such as having regular lunches or coffee breaks together.

“Being a manager has given me another opportunity to learn some new, important skills. I love my team and truly enjoy working with them”, Emma concludes.

This article was previously published in MC Engage’s (formerly Okimo Clinic) blog.