Our superhero Jenni Santalo shares her ultimate purpose at work

Meet Jenni. She is one of the luckiest people you could find in the business world. She has found something that many of us desperately seek for years and years on end — sometimes forever. Jenni has found her passion, and it is also related to her career.

Last week, Okimonians received a special presentation from a very inspiring person. Jenni Santalo, Senior Marketing Communications Manager at Tieto, was the guest speaker at our weekly Okimo Pause lunch. During her presentation, we laughed, but there were also plenty of tears — we were rapt by Jenni’s touching stories. We all got a new perspective and learned something important from her.

Finding meaning in life has a price

Jenni is very lucky to be following her passion, but it didn’t happen overnight. It took a lot of work for her to get where she is today: At one point in her life, she needed to quit everything. She did something very brave: She packed her bags, said goodbye to the only life she had ever known and departed for Uganda. She worked at refugee camps for 7 months. There, she saw and heard the full range of human experiences more or less. “The sand, the smells, the sounds, the rendezvouses. They all were intense. I hated the red sand in the end, but now I miss it. I miss the afternoon light, I miss the people — all so beautiful”, Jenni wistfully recalled.

Although this wasn’t an easy path to finding her passion, it was something Jenni needed to do. It changed her perspective forever. And as Jenni admitted, “How could I be dissatisfied with my life after everything that I saw there? I only heard the horrific stories — they didn’t happen to me.” After she returned to Finland, Jenni decided that she would pursue her passion of doing good and focus on making the world a bit better, day by day, one interaction at a time. She decided to work only for that ultimate purpose. And no, she is not working at an NGO, but instead at a very large listed company — Tieto.

Doing good through the corporate world

Tieto is among the biggest IT companies in the Nordics, but that is precisely where Jenni decided to make an impact on the world as one of Tieto’s communications experts. After seeing a sliver of the developing world, reading extensively and having discussions with many people, Jenni realized something profound. She realized that even though many people seem to think that NGOs are intrinsically good and corporations are intrinsically bad, the much larger size of companies allows them to make the world a better place even more effectively. In other words, she started to realize that the corporate world is where you can make a truly big impact.

When companies implement sustainable solutions or offer virtuous services like digitalizing the world to decrease raw material use and increase sustainability or even making societies more equal, transparent and democratic, they make our world a better place. That was precisely when she realized that THAT is exactly what she wanted to do. And she began to focus on making her ideal digital culture a reality by encouraging others to think more broadly with the help of a sustainable and digital mindset to achieve this remarkable goal.

Companies have the real power to change the global discourse

“When companies use their power to do good, the world is a better place for us all”, says Jenni. This is especially evident in the growing transparency and corporate responsibility trends. Today, people can demand companies do better things, but companies can also make demands of other companies and even of themselves. “New generation companies are run with a totally novel mindset. They define the new ethics of the business world. They are not very hierarchical, and are instead democratic and highly ethical, offering equal opportunities and pay while thinking about the planet and how to improve the lives of others. The more traditional companies have no other choice than to follow.”

Jenni mentions companies like Supercell, Facebook, Google, Starbucks, who define ethics in how equally and fairly people are treated. Everyone has value no matter what you look like or where you are from. Of course all companies still have a lot to do.

We live in an interesting time — digitalization and social media have brought us an unparalleled level of transparency. Companies are making big changes and for the better of our world. In today’s social and digital era, transparency makes every company more virtuous. For example, modern forest product companies don’t just carelessly clear-cut forests; instead, they strive for sustainable bio economy solutions. And how could a modern company do otherwise?

Jenni has taken quite a journey to get where she is today. She is optimistic about the future, and her perspective on doing good through the business world is something we hope to see become more widespread. We believe that every company should have a little bit of Jenni — her attitude and do-gooder spirit have the power to change our world.

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