September 7, 2016

How my working identity has evolved at Tieto

Mikko Babitzin

Development Manager, Service integration and management (SIAM), Tieto

It was about the day Lordi stepped into the spotlight in the European Song Contest. The day that was not supposed to happen. That day, I signed with Tieto. I was looking at a project manager career path but it turned out to be much more. To quote Lordi: Hard Rock Hallelujah!

I like to look forward and ask, why are we doing this? Where are we going? What should we do next? I enjoy solving problems – sometimes alone, mostly together, and always with curiosity. In my working life at Tieto, I’ve had a chance to work together and do cross-border business with a number of individuals from the Nordics, Baltics, Czech Republic, India, Netherlands, United States, and Russia. Meaningful people create meaningful moments. That’s how it should go. And that is what I strive to do at Tieto: create value for life, experiences that touch, and meaning for the work in progress.                   

Let’s go back to last decade.

When I first joined Tieto, I focused on Media customers. After a brief introduction period, my colleague and I entered our customer’s headquarters in Helsinki. Working closely together with them for about a year turned into learning number one: the world and its daily challenges may look totally different when taking someone else’s perspective. There is always room to switch viewpoints to get a broader view before decision making. My working identity gained new flavors as a consultant; those flavors would continue to influence my future, too. 

It was another sunny day after vacation some years and many assignments later. It was time to learn something new and I took over an ongoing project. Had I known what would eventually happen, I probably wouldn't have accepted that job. In brief, our project failed. Most of the people working with projects have such experiences. Not that many talk about them. In the tough moments of failure, you are able to see how strong and flexible you and your team are. That is the moment of learning, moment of growth. It’s growth that you simply can’t get out of books. Since then I’ve had a learning goal for each individual in our projects. That way we can go from pinpointing problems to discovering solutions. Learning number two: if you are willing to learn and grow, put yourself into places you think you can’t manage. If there is a will, there is a way. Much like the consultancy experiences, these nightmares made my working identity stronger. 

Give people space and accountability, and you will see how much more the team can achieve. You can plan the future, but something unexpected will always happen. It is your choice either to stay on the predefined track or to follow the call. Both are good strategies. When walking out of an executive meeting, I found myself leading a large business transformation program with more than a hundred team members.  Some thought it would never break through. However, there were three great leaders that had a different view and trusted me to make the impossible possible. With such a large team, I had to trust even more, as there simply was no way of managing the details. I had to transform my leadership into another level. Learning number three: lead through the potential. Having a shared vision and shared values showed how much we could do by leaving old beliefs behind. As a result we did the impossible on budget and ahead of schedule. It was pretty cool indeed.

After that, I thought it would be good to deepen my understanding of the project business and I signed a job to lead a multinational team of project managers. Leading people and leading business have something in common: you are in a service role with a steering wheel and a navigator in your hands. Learning number four: always go the extra mile to understand the success criteria of your stakeholders. Listen carefully. Use their language to get understood. Learning number five: the emotional distance between two floors can be bigger than the physical distance between two continents. Yet when you share an understanding and meanings, great things can evolve. My working identity and future was further shaped by these experiences in leadership, business management and development.

Now back to present.

One great thing, and distinctive to my life at Tieto, has been the room to pursue my interests. It is mostly about one’s own will and capability to manage time. Projects have always their priorities and things need to be done. It is obvious with the most interesting tasks, but all the routines and not-that-fancy things have their value, too. If not, talk about value creation with a team. Sometimes waste is recognized as waste and gets removed. Sometimes waste is recognized as something that has to be done. Learning number six: bringing uncertainty into discussion and asking difficult questions tends to clarify things. Avoiding discussion about uncertainty tends to strengthen it. Tieto’s open source culture makes it possible for every voice to be heard.

Today, my life at Tieto centers on understanding customer needs and proposing solutions to fulfill them. They call it sales. Educating myself about Tieto’s key offerings, such as Customer Experience Management, Internet-of-Things, Business Intelligence & Analytics, Artificial Intelligence & Machine Learning as well Service Integration and Management, has also transformed my working identity and future.

They say an old dog can’t learn new things. I’d say the only thing an old dog learns is new things. There’s always something to learn or a unique way to connect past lessons and perspectives to be discovered. Learning number seven: be the captain of your career and your life. Do what you love and love what you do. It is great to look back every now and then to see the path taken and the footprint you’ve left. Nonetheless, it is the quality of decisions made today that will set the scene for tomorrow. I know it will be another unforgettable period to come.

Action counts, results will follow, enjoy the ride. Have a great autumn!

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