Celebrating 15 years of great work in Poland, we’re really lucky to have Maria leading our team since 2020. Coming from Finland and with a lot of knowledge in finance across Central and Eastern Europe, Maria has played a key role in guiding our Poland office through tough and new challenges. Let’s explore her journey, understand her perspectives, and discover the effective strategies she has used to foster Leinonen’s continued growth and stability in Poland.
Can you briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your journey with Leinonen?
I have been working in Poland and the CEE region for many years in different finance-related positions and always in Finnish-rooted organizations. Leinonen combines nicely both financial services and Finnish roots as the slogan “a very Finnish accounting office” states, so it was a natural step. In previous positions, I have been on both sides of the table, meaning providing and buying financial services, so I felt I could also provide some insights and ideas to Leinonen services and portfolio. I started in Leinonen 1.4.2020 and not enough that it was April Fools’ Day, but it was also the very first day of the total lockdown due to COVID-19. The whole country was closed, and we were forced to work remotely, so in fact I met my new team for the first time face-to-face after three months.
As someone originally from Finland, how has your Finnish background influenced your approach to managing the Poland office?
My team could better answer this, but I think the Finnish way is low hierarchy and open doors. I try to be easily approachable and listen to ideas and opinions. I emphasize straightforwardness, transparency, and a can-do attitude, which leads to quick decision-making and agile business. It is also valued by our clients that I can relate to those entering the Polish market; I understand their background, expectations, and assumptions.
I try to be easily approachable and listen to ideas and opinions. I emphasize straightforwardness, transparency, and a can-do attitude, which leads to quick decision-making and agile business.
What are the primary goals and objectives you have set for Leinonen Poland for this year?
We have of course our hard targets linked directly to our everyday work. Our vision is to be part of the infinity game, meaning that we’re here to stay. This makes continuous improvement very important and our goal currently is to build a solid foundation for future development and utilize the technical possibilities enabled by the legislation (such as planned obligatory e-invoices in Poland).
How do you build teamwork and get your team to work well together?
We have regular team meetings where we discuss and share different topics. It’s very important that everyone can have a say and contribute; more junior team members have a chance to learn from more senior specialists etc. We have also put extra effort into increasing the awareness of the importance of communication, both internal and external, in the form of training and exercises. We have some celebrations as well, last summer we organized a Summer Days meeting in Poland for whole the Leinonen Group, and locally we meet for Christmas, etc. When teams get to know each other better, it’s also easier to work together.
How has the shift to remote work impacted Leinonen Poland’s operations, and what strategies have you employed to ensure productivity and cohesion among team members?
I think this is not an issue anymore. The hybrid work model is a standard nowadays; we do have our office days and remote workdays. The situation now is different than at the beginning of the pandemic time. Now we’re in the driver’s seat and decide how to organize the work in the best way, and we’re not forced to do full-time remote work. Everyone is familiar with the equipment and online tools and the teams are utilizing them impressively well for communicating with each other’s, clients or generally organizing the work, so I haven’t observed any major changes in the efficiency. In our business, the work is anyway very task-oriented, and cyclical (monthly, quarterly, and annual) and we need to deliver on time regardless of the circumstances.
How do you ensure continuous professional development for your team members and yourself?
We organize internal and external trainings regarding the legal or tax changes etc., and support with the courses or other ways to increase and improve professional qualifications. We also follow Leinonen Group projects e.g. there is a new program for Team Leaders, which focuses more on management skills.
How do you recharge and maintain a work-life balance, especially given the demands of leading a team?
I have a dear adulthood hobby, discgolf (also known as frisbee golf) which is the best way to switch off completely from work. Discgolf means hours of outdoor exercise, techniques of throwing discs, and strategy on how to play in different courses in varying terrain or changing weather conditions. You may play with or against others (in a tournament), but mostly it’s about challenging yourself and playing against your own weaknesses.
What advice would you give to someone aspiring to take on a leadership role in a multinational organization?
It’s hard to give advice, but at least I have always tried to be open-minded but very clear about my expectations and communication. Having the right people in the right place is very important and I believe very much in teamwork and encourage it.
We extend our heartfelt thanks to Maria for sharing her journey and insights with us. To our readers, thank you for joining us on this enlightening journey. We look forward to bringing you more inspiring stories from our team at Leinonen.