How did you find your way to Mtech?
My coming to Mtech was quite accidental, since it was not what I was planning to do as a graduate in Chemistry. After completing my mandatory service in the Finnish army, I started looking for jobs in my own field. To my surprise, there were often more than 50 candidates, many with a PhD, fighting for same job.
I had been interested in computers to some extent all my life, and I had taken courses in computer science and mathematics in the university. As a hobby, I had spent a lot of time coding net-based multiuser games in LPC, and even more hours playing them. This experience gave me an alternative idea to see if I could have a career in programming.
I started by applying for jobs in three IT companies, including Mtech. The CEO, Mr. Tarmo Kiuru, invited me to an interview. I had chosen to apply to Mtech, assuming that my chemistry background would be valuable for an IT company with agricultural focus. Almost like a slap in the face, the CEO told me that my knowledge of chemistry would not be of any value to Mtech. (That actually turned out to be true.)
Making things even worse, I accidentally spilt the CEO’s coffee on his own desk at the end of the interview, ruining his papers.
Based on all this, I was almost sure he would not select me, but I was wrong. The next day I was invited to sign a contract. This is how I became a member of the Mtech family in the year 2000.
What kind of work have you done in Mtech?
During my 19 years in Mtech, I have been involved in a large variety of projects. I have done some of our fundamental programming though obviously most of the code I have written is now obsolete. When I joined Mtech, we were actively working with breeding software for Faba. One of my first tasks was to develop a web version of the Pedigree Certificate. After this, I led the software development team responsible for Microsoft technologies.
A gigantic task that I was responsible for was migrating all the software and databases to the Windows platform SQL server. At the start of the project in 1999, many believed it to be impossible. Originally estimated at 30-35 person-years, it eventually required 120 person-years of work. To complete the project I had to hire more than 20 new developers and testers, and a number of external consultants. By the time we finished this project in April 2003, we had 25 people working in the software development department that I had been leading since 2002.
In 2008, I established a sales and marketing department focused on both B2B and B2F (management software for farmers) markets. In 2010, I became the CEO of Mtech and from then onward my roles and responsibilities have focused on our company’s growth and development.
What is your normal day like?
As a CEO, my role includes anything from daily routine jobs, like authorising payments, to the strategic planning of the company. I am also actively involved in the governance of Mtech’s four daughter or interest companies: Neviso, Biocode, ProEventus and Bisnes+. Preparing for board meetings, regular sparring sessions with the CEOs takes a surprising amount of my time. Additionally, we have weekly 2 to 4-hour meetings of Mtech’s executive board. Usually we have a topic within which we discuss different projects and challenges, and try to come up with solutions.
I also hold monthly or bi-weekly one-on-one meetings with my direct subordinates to help them achieve their strategic goals. I also have an active role in sales and contract negotiations with major customers.
Writing agreements is something I enjoy so much that I sometimes think I should have gone to law school.
That is maybe the closest I can get to writing code nowadays. I think the biggest challenge for me is how to find enough time and energy for strategic planning and reflection, instead of being too deep in daily work or losing focus due to the multitude of roles I have.
What excites you at work and what are the nicest memories you have in Mtech?
Twenty years in this company have been a marvellous journey. I have countless good memories: from the completion of huge projects to being with people, working together and having a good time. I believe we have good managers who treat people fairly, including myself. Mtech’s work environment is positive and vibrant, which results in a high employee satisfaction and retention. It is always exciting to be a part of this company and to lead this company as a CEO.
If I must select few memories from my career, the huge migration project from Mainframe to Microsoft technologies comes at the top of the list.
While the project itself nearly bankrupted the company, it ultimately lead to financial and operational successes that would not have been possible without it. Such large and successful projects are so rare that Information and Software Technology* published a study of the project.
I am happy and grateful for the dedicated team of people we have here at Mtech. We have a very high team spirit and try to keep the hierarchy low.
What do you like to do on your free time?
If I had to choose one thing I could do forever, it would be fishing. I fish whenever I have time. I can wait for hours to catch a fish, enjoying the serenity and silence while I am fishing. My favourite catches are perch and pike that I usually cold smoke. If I catch a large mix of wounded and decent size fish, I keep the first and release the latter.
When I am not fishing, I love to learn new skills. New things attract me easily and I like to try them. Last winter, sitting bored at home, I learnt lock picking by watching e.g. videos from Youtube. I can now open regular padlocks very quickly; often anywhere between a few seconds to minute or so. My technological background also urges me to try something technical. A while ago, I developed a neural network and tested it. The success was good; it is able to recognize hand drawn alphabets from 100×100 pixel pictures.
* Nikula, U, Jurvanen, C, Gotel, O and Gause, D C (2010) ‘Empirical Validation of the Classic Change Curve on a Software Technology Change Project’, Information and Software Technology, 52(6):680-69