Reporting for duty - CMO Ville Kymäläinen is ready to conquer Finnish fintech
Northmill CMO in Finland Ville Kymäläinen
In our latest series of Life at Northmill, you´ll meet our new CMO in Finland. I talked to Ville about the difference between military and business leadership, the challenges that lie ahead and how the Northmill Food Contest helped form the company culture.
In March, Ville Kymäläinen joined the Northmill team as Chief Marketing Officer in Finland. As an active reservist in the Finnish Defense Forces (FDF), he is well prepared to lead. This time however it’s not about teaching conscripts the art of defence. It’s about building an efficient team of digitial marketers and rather than defending a market position, it´s about conquering it.
Hi Ville, I know you have been with us since the beginning of March but let me take this opportunity to officially welcome you to Northmill.
Thank you, I am very glad to be a part of this wonderful team!
What drew you to join Northmill?
I was intrigued by the unique opportunity of joining a company that is in a hockey stick growth phase and in the process of launching a new and digital-only consumer bank.
My previous work experience was as a CMO at a competitor. Northmill was my role model company in the segment of consumer loans. They, or I should say "we", held the highest industry standards e.g. in our content creation and SEO.
The Finnish marketing department team working on a campaign for Mother’s Day
Can you tell us a bit about your work here?
I lead a team of four people, myself included, with various backgrounds in digital marketing. My work consists mainly of planning the focus area and time table for our department.
I’m also in charge of our cooperations with partners and a member of the Finnish management team, meeting on a weekly basis to discuss and make decisions for future steps of the company and operation.
"I was intrigued by the unique opportunity of joining a company that is in a hockey stick growth phase and in the process of launching a new and digital-only consumer bank."
The organization in Finland was established in 2015 with the launch of Credigo. What challenges do you see ahead?
Our toughest challenge right now is to handle the fast growth in both revenue and workforce. In March alone we hired a total of six new employees, including myself, and we are still looking to fill additional positions in the near future.
Also, we are on the verge of launching our second brand on the Finnish market with a third brand in the pipeline with preliminary launch during Q2. These events creates possibilities for an increased share of the consumer lending market, but will obviously also increase the workload. That means we need more talented people, so please include a link in this interview to our career page!
Sure, I´ll do that. What do you enjoy to do when you're not marketing innovative financial products?
Well, like any other self-respecting Finn I follow the ice hockey league. I also enjoy hiking in the summer and alpine skiing in the winter.
Since I’m a reservist in the military, I spend many weekends training at different facilities of the FDF. My tasks include organizing training for conscripts and reservists in force protection related operations.
At a training event in the spring of 2017
Leading an army unit vis-a-vis a team of marketers must be very different. Is the military background an asset in your current work?
Leadership is something that have always interested me. The transformational leadership style taught in the military, with its order giving and communication methods, are not directly applicable to how people in the civilian world are supposed to be lead.
When working with people whose greatest asset are their creativity and problem solving skills, a manager needs to be very careful in how different tasks are formed and communicated in order to minimize misunderstandings as well as lead times from idea to execution.
On the other hand, the cornerstones taught in the FDF model for leadership is a great start for every manager who wants to achieve results and create a positive environment within the team.
"When working with people whose greatest asset are their creativity and problem solving skills, a manager needs to be very careful in how different tasks are communicated."
Are you finding the company culture to be different from that of similar companies?
From my observation so far, Northmill is a very diligent and competitive working environment. This has several reasons, primarily that we have effectively aligned our high set business goals with individual performance goals.
By doing so, we ensure that everyone understands their value and contributions to the company. Eventually every goal, no matter how small, takes us one step further on our mission towards a better banking experience. Because employees are united behind this mission, we are highly motivated to work here.
Making Capocuoco. Ville preparing his 3 course Italian dinner at Northmill Food Contest
Speaking of competitiveness, I heard something about a food contest you guys arrange in the Finnish office on a regular basis. Can you confirm this?
Yes, it´s a playful competition called “Northmill Food Contest”, where every Wednesday one of the co-workers cooks a three-course dinner for the whole staff. Afterwards the dinner is rated from 0 – 5. Hopefully in a few months time we’ll be able to crown the first “Northmill Chef”! Personally I value this time spent together with colleagues outside of the daily work.
Thank you for your time and good luck!