1 Mar 2019Blog

Introducing Account Director Topi Ahava

Account Director Topi Ahava started at Solita in August 2018 and is one of the 200 new employees who started last year. I talked with Topi why he chose Solita and what does daily life of an Account Director look like. Here is his story. 

I’ve held on to a Solita badge now for 6,5 months – scratch that, I’ve lost it a few times – lets make it 6, and I feel compelled to write something about us, Solita and the business we’re in.
Full disclosure: by saying I feel compelled to write, I mean that the first day on the job I promised a colleague to jot a few words down two months into my employment. So, I guess, this is it then. The compelled me keeping a promise.

That was actually more of a half-disclosure (no need to google, it’s not a real thing). The team I work with  has realized we need to proactively communicate about a lot of the stuff you’ll read of in the following paragraphs. This is an attempt to clarify, at least to myself, what is it exactly that I signed up for. As I’ve been misplacing my company ID now for a good while, a concise review is in order.

What business am I in?

I’d been involved with business & tech stuff for around 10 years prior to joining Solita. Looking back at the things I’ve had the opportunity to do, I realize I’ve gravitated a step a time to jobs with a larger mission. I guess that’s a case example of either Maslowian hierarchy or Narrative Bias, your choice. The last two years before joining Solita I worked for an EdTech Start Up that is fundamentally challenging global issues relating to learning equity and efficiency via the means of data and technology. During that time, I got to know some great Solita people and later down the road found myself in the lobby of our Helsinki office as a new employee.

My first day on the job, as I introduced myself to the team, I said a few words about why I joined Solita. I told them that I knew Solita as an impact driven company, with top-of-the-line experts in Data, Design, Development and Cloud Services. I said I’m looking forward to learning a lot and most of all, getting stuff done.

A little kiss-assy, I know, but they did take me to lunch after the meeting, so I guess I was off to a good start.  To date I stand by the statements I made two hours into the job. And yes, I’ve been paying for my own lunches since.

What I’ve grown to appreciate and respect, is a high level of autonomy throughout the organization. Even though we’re over 770 people strong, majority of decisions impacting our work are made either by ourselves, or together with people we interact with daily. Also, we pick our battles. As time is our most unscalable asset, we put a lot of work into evaluating where we can really make a difference.

As Solita, we’re hired to solve stuff that our clients can’t or shouldn’t get into by themselves. No fairy dust, seldom any glamour, and a lot of hard work. We’re a tight pack of people from diverse backgrounds working on our client’s problems. We’re a consultancy.

Consultancies of all shapes and sizes have for years declared problem solving as their raison d’etre. A well-balanced cocktail of substance matter expertise, laser sharp focus and years of experience provide as a seemingly invariable output, solutions to the client’s problems. This statement does carry merit, but I believe we’re all, regardless of our place of employment, in the business of solving someone’s problems. Problems come in all shapes and sizes, from wicked problems such as tackling climate change, to solving quite mundane daily needs, like a barista providing coffee to walk-in customers before 9-AM. What and whose problems do you solve daily?

I got 99 problems

Sorry about that. A totally uncalled for Jay-Z reference. Well, anyway. Umm. Problems? Yes. Moving on. Problems are usually easy to spot but also quick to be mislabeled.

A roofing company is not essentially in the business of fixing roofs, it’s in the business of providing warmth, shelter, and a feeling of security.

The barista I referred to earlier, is not primarily a merchant of caffeinated goods. Successful businesses strive to understand the fundamental problems they solve for their clients.  Are you in the business of fixing roofs or selling coffee?

My first months on the job, I’ve been involved in formulating a data strategy for a large retailer, driving user & data insight work for an industry leader and Skanska’s digital market place, which is an industry gamechanger for sure.I work in a team that dedicates its time and energy on Solita’s most significant company accounts.

We’re a motley group of experienced professionals that focuses on understanding our client’s essential problems. Our job is to make sure the combination of Solita’s design, technology and data expertise creates meaningful, measurable outcomes. Not all projects are meant to make a dent in the universe, but for our clients, the net impact of Solita’s efforts must be more than the sum of its parts.

What does this mean in practice?

First, a fair dose of humility is required. All our clients operate in a competitive and complex business environment. We rarely have definitive answers, hence a fundamental interest and curiosity to understand our client’s problems is required.

Second, we’re people persons. On any given week, we engage our client’s business owners, coordinate with Solita’s onsite teams and spar with our substance matter experts on a variety of issues.

Third, we’re idealists. We believe creating meaningful impact for our clients will not only bring measurable returns but should in its own small way be part of creating a better future for all.

Fourth, we stand on the shoulders of giants. We’re immensely proud of the wealth of expertise all our colleagues have. We don’t have calling cards. Solita’s reputation as a problem-solving powerhouse should be the only calling card we’ll ever need.

If you got this far, thanks for reading. To those that didn’t quite make it, I’ll pour one for you. At Solita, we are always looking for new talented people for our teams. Send your application to [email protected].