Meet the Midagon team: Paula Aaltonen
November 23, 2016
When Paula graduated from university at the dawn of the new millennium with a teaching degree, she already had two children in kindergarten. She was heavily involved in the parents’ association of the school, as was a woman from Nestlé who quickly realized that Paula was an energetic kind of person who gets things done. When the Nestlé woman inquired about what she was doing for employment, Paula admitted that because it was springtime, teaching jobs were hard to come by. The woman offered her a summer job in the Nestlé Export Department, and that is how Paula unexpectedly launched her business career.
Paula worked for Nestlé several years on different business roles and in variety of projects, including roll-out of global ERP solution, implementation of corporate best practices and integration of acquired ice cream business unit into already existing business.
Although after graduation Paula has never held a formal teaching position, she has been training people during her business career, which continued after Nestlé at Tikkurila Group, and then at Sinebrychoff, which in turn is a fully owned subsidiary of the Carlsberg Group.
Fast-forward to 2016 when Paula was wrapping up a big project for the Carlsberg Group and was ready to look around for something new. There was a headhunter who had previously contacted her with a work proposal, trying to persuade her to take another position. Then a year later she got again in touch with this headhunter, who told her about the opportunity to join Midagon.
She was immediately excited at the chance to leverage her experience in leading and managing challenging transformational projects for different customers, projects that require a combination of strong business process and IT expertise combined with people and HR understanding.
Paula recognizes that change projects can be really difficult for many organizations, which is why a truly shocking percentage of them fail. From her perspective, one of the main reasons so many change projects fail is a lack of sill, ability, or will to really see the “big picture.” Specifically, the big picture can be incredibly complex, made up of numerous dependencies, each of which must be examined and unraveled to see how it affects others – there seldom is any shortcuts or fast tracks. Also when people develop functional or technical expertise in their particular area of responsibility, communication with people from other parts of the company often get insufficient and change project easily suffers from assumptions and misinterpretations.
One of the first things Paula finds she must do in any complex change project is to demystify IT and processes, and get people speaking a common language that everyone can understand. As it turns out, Paula is really good at doing this, which goes right back to her love of teaching and pedagogics. She can communicate even the most complex topics in clear, concise, understandable language that puts everyone at ease and on the same page. It also helps that Paula speaks five different languages, including Finnish, English, Russian, Swedish and with a bit of German thrown in for good measure.
Paula is effective in her work, she understands the difference between managing a change and leading it. Change management covers resources and tools you use to facilitate a change process, but how you actually go about using those – that is the leadership aspect.
Any company that needs to undergo a major change or transformation would do well to have Paula taking the lead. She has the positive energy, experience and skills, and full commitment to see it through to a successful end.