Jaakko Sippola – Board Member

Meet Jaakko, Finders Seekers’ board member and advisor who doesn’t mess around when it comes to values… or his tennis serve

“Off the back of my 2019 exit from the tech company I founded back in 2009, I was ready to tackle entrepreneurship again: this time as an advisor. 

Joining FiSe’s board is about championing industry trends and encouraging these guys to really go for growth. 

Pushing myself and others to aim high is second nature to me: 18 months ago I picked up a tennis racket for the first time, and last week I played my first official division match.”

“Here’s what I’ll be bringing to the playing field as a Finders Seekers board member…

Hardened tech entrepreneur 

“I am originally from near Tampere, but I have lived in the capital region for a long time. I founded my own IT services company, Bitify, back in 2009: it was eventually sold to Office Management back in 2015.

I was the owner/founder and VP, and eventually the CEO of Finland: as a company we were successful all over the Nordics. After the merger, I stayed on as a partner and shareholder. 

But in 2019 after a decade in the game, I felt it was time for new challenges. 

Last year I joined Finnish Olympic committee as a director for a fundraising project: an organisation similar to MoveGB that seeks funding in order to create a legacy for sports. This is a model that has been successfully used in culture before, but it’s new for the sports industry in Finland. 

Alongside my ‘dayjob’, I felt like I wanted to get back into the entrepreneurship game and use my background to help others succeed: cue FiSe.”

FiSe + Jaakko = it’s a match

“When I first put feelers out to my networks about an advisory position, quite a few people were interested: I think I ended up with about ten contenders. 

It was important that I committed to a company that I connected with: I was looking for the right values and chemistry fit.

That’s what I found in FiSe: I met Sofia, we got talking, and I immediately loved the FiSe vibe. They take things seriously and do things from the heart. 

I liked the overall FiSe spirit and drive: it was very similar to what we had at Bitify. It’s a kind of infectious good energy that draws people in.

A lot of other recruitment companies talk about doing the right thing with their values, but FiSe really lives them.

The next megatrend: old leadership is dead

“I’m fascinated by megatrends and how to harness them. 

Back in 2010 when we first started selling cloud services at Bitify, people laughed at us. 

Even though everyone back then was using cloud services in their personal lives – Facebook, email, etc., the commercial cloud opportunity wasn’t yet understood. 

Now I feel like the next megatrend is the transformation of leadership culture. Old-school leadership is out.

And FiSe is firmly part of today’s leadership culture transformation.”

It’s all personal

“I’ve got my own leadership philosophy.

As a leader I am very driven by this idea: ‘if you can positively impact a team member’s general well-being then that’s half the battle, but actually having a positive impact on their personal life is even better.’

If you nail that, then you get this cycle of great vibes and commercial success that feed each other. Always take care of your own.”

Tough business, soft values

“Business is still tough. That hasn’t changed: only the best will make it. But that doesn’t mean that your values need to be rigid.

The whole values conversation can get a bit ridiculous these days. All websites have a list of values, but how often do they actually reflect what happens on the ground?

Take something like sustainability: people talk about it all the time, but what does it actually mean? Like if you’re just saying that you don’t print your emails I feel like you’re not really living it.

Leaders play a crucial role when it comes to values being actually followed through on.”

Leaders need to listen

“Leaders should be looking for new ways to involve people and to share decision-making and accountability. 

Think about it: do you really need to spend 500 euros per head on a big Christmas do, when you could be spending money on something like people being able to get access to therapy?

It all comes down to openness and listening. Ask people what they want.”

Getting things done

“The same goes for client relationships.

You can’t just disappear or vanish into thin air when a problem or an issue arises. You have to show up and get involved and figure things out. Don’t get sidelined by drama.

Even big things can be sorted out if you just commit to figuring them out.”

Always back your own people

“Companies that back their own people and leaders who stand up for their values command respect.

I especially pay attention to how leaders express themselves and what kinds of issues and topics they weigh in on.

One that stood out for me recently was Vincit Founder Mikko Kuitunen and his response to the Vastaamo data breach: the fact that he came out and openly discussed getting therapy helps to normalise taking care of your own mental health. 

I think it’s essential to have the courage to defend your own values. If somebody is getting publicly lynched, then leaders have a responsibility to step in and provide support.

And if something does go wrong: the message should be ‘don’t worry, we will sort it’. 

Companies have to stand up for people and show with their actions that they care.”

I want to be the FiSe hype man

“I want to be a champion for growth. 

The momentum is now: I can smell it. It’s time to hit the gas pedal even if things feel a bit risky.

(Though obviously because of COVID-19 it’s important to take things easy right this second – anything may happen yet).

I want to keep the energy high and push the guys to do bigger things and aim higher. I am here to help with any growing pains.

I am also considering whether we need to look outside the IT sector? Do we have our product ecosystem fully figured out yet? FiSe processes work for all knowledge workers.

I think it’s important to keep one eye on the future development of the industry.

And though I won’t be getting involved with client work, I will support and encourage the team to push the boat out and take risks so that the company can continue to grow.”

Next stop, world domination

“I want to take Finders Seekers global: the brand is already built with international scalability in mind.

In terms of the global market, I feel like Sweden is the natural next step. 

Swedes have similar needs when it comes to their tech talent space. And I think the scene is ripe and ready for an innovative player like FiSe. The FiSe story would really resonate there. 

And then there is Ireland and its tech hub and all the opportunities there.”

High-tech mattresses and tennis volleys

“Tech is a big part of who I am, even when I am off-duty. I just got myself the Neurosonic mobile mattress that helps restore and relax the nervous system using low-level frequencies. It’s kind of like an automated osteopath and it integrates with my Oura ring.

Also, 18 months ago I started playing tennis for the first time in my life. And a week ago I played my first series match in the fifth division! I got beat 2-0. But I am pretty happy with that achievement. Let’s hope I can bring some of that energy to FiSe.”

Welcome to the board Jaakko! We can’t wait to see what we will achieve together. Check out Jaakko’s LinkedIn and connect with him here.