Hi there Lahja! You have worked as Think Company’s CMO for over a year now. How did you feel when you got started?
"As a fresh graduate and a young professional woman, it wasn’t the easiest thing to take on a big title. Imposter syndrome definitely accompanied me for the first few months. Now that I’ve settled into the role, I’ve realised that I might do some things differently than my predecessors – and that’s more than okay. I was hired to fill in a need within the company, so I can trust and follow my instincts. I appreciate the organisational culture and my colleagues for being able to do that."
What does a CMO work on? What are your daily tasks?
"Generally speaking, the Chief Marketing Officer works with communications and marketing. Nowadays, that can mean a wide variety of tasks, but my own emphasis is on optimisation of different channels, as well as community- and human-centered design of things, such as UX, comms acting as a natural extension of that. My personal mission is to support the creative process of our team members, giving them the tools to communicate effectively about the importance of their projects to the right audience. That is where the impact of communications and marketing lies, in the potential to inspire and empower the receivers of our message.
My daily tasks can vary between writing up a newsletter, catching up with the marketing lead of a specific project on what should be done next, to developing new concepts or channels to improve our reach or developing our visuals and brand with our AD."
What is your take on Think Company’s communications?
"In the past, our communications revolved around events, programs, and what is happening in Helsinki’s startup scene. Now we want to shift focus to the Think community and share what we have worked on together. Also, we want to communicate more concretely about living by our values; what does it actually mean to take academics into action; how does science create societal impact?
Right now, I’m focusing on learning more about the community, so we can find ways to support them better. This process includes collecting and analysing data, testing different concepts, and optimising content and channels. I believe getting to know the community and its needs is key."
What did you study? How are you taking your academic knowledge into action working as a CMO?
"I studied Business Management and Psychology in Scotland, at the University of Aberdeen. When it comes to communications and marketing, business and psychology do offer a killer combo – knowledge of human behaviour and emotions helps me to create more credible concepts that resonate with people."
Share one tip for better communication.
"It is a two-way street. Gathering feedback on how others understand your message should minimize the level of errors and misunderstanding. It also gives you the opportunity to continuously learn to be a better communicator, as it is a process that needs reflection."
You don’t only work as a CMO but also as Think Media’s Editor in Chief. What is Think Media?
"Think Media is Helsinki Think Company’s online publication that conveys our community’s take on entrepreneurship, science and society – just to name a few. Think Media’s content offers information and new perspectives for future founders, students and researchers who are interested in impactful and academic entrepreneurship.
We hope Think Media will also reach people that are not yet familiar with what we do. All the content is available for free."
Where did the idea for Think Media come from?
"Think Company’s team felt like there’s a need to diversify the discussion around entrepreneurship – not only share the success stories of startups but also highlight science's societal impact. We want to share stories on entrepreneurship as a tool for better tomorrow and tell how Helsinki Think Company supports this."
What are some topics Think Media has already covered?
"Think Media focuses a lot on science-packed solutions that have societal impact. These are topics we discussed with a food tech founder who used to work in academia – and now wants to make Finnish food production more sustainable.
We have also interviewed two student-founded startups Evergreen and Evexia who both took part in HELSEED program – and ended up getting funding from the University of Helsinki along the way.
Most recent blog is about using entrepreneurial tools for whatever project you're working on. Anyone from a climate activist to a fresher getting started with studies can apply this know-how. We also believe explaining concepts like pitching and Lean Canvas makes the sometimes confusing conversation on entrepreneurship a bit more understandable."
Who are the people behind Think Media?
"Think Media’s content is created by Think Company’s team. Our team is multidisciplinary and each team member has their own perspective. I can’t wait to see how for example a humanist, computer scientist and psychologist would each approach Think Media’s topics."
Back to you! How do you wind down and rest, what do you do for fun?
"I enjoy going to the gym, climbing, reading, going on walks in nature, painting, and drawing, and seeing my friends. I also tried out pottery and throwing on the wheel and it was AMAZING. It is my newest hobby."
Last but not least – any hot tips for this not-so-hot season?
"I have two book recommendations: Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg and Essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown – for this period of high uncertainty and irregularity in our daily lives, I recommend taking charge of your days by creating better habits and concentrating on the essential, with the books’ instructions.
If you prefer listening over reading, I'd recommend a podcast called Jäbät ja tunteet. Miro, Nasim and Nosh are doing crucial work on the grassroots level of our society, by talking about the feelings and roles of men in modern society; normalising emotional sensitivity and conversations about feelings amongst people who are taught not to practise either."
Thanks a lot Lahja!
Photos: Suvi Välimäki