Marjut Kinnari kiipeämässä veden yllä pystysuoraa kallioseinää, aurinko paistaa.
Marjut Kinnari rock climbing on Olhava in Repovesi National Park. Kinnari has been climbing as a hobby for five years.

Mentor signposted road to entrepreneurship – but current job triumphed

News article

Frontend Developer Marjut Kinnari found support for her ideas about entrepreneurship from the seasoned and agile Anne Soikkeli in TEK's mentoring program.

“I have a coding job at Funidata, but I started out as a designer. My strengths are different from many other devs,” says Marjut Kinnari.

Her strengths were precisely what Kinnari wanted to weigh, which is why she decided to take part in TEK's mentoring program. Kinnari wanted to consider her specialization options. After the program started, she also found she could use a sounding board to contemplate whether she had what it takes to become an entrepreneur.

“I’m still a junior when it comes to coding. I wanted to get an idea of how I could develop.”

Under TEK's mentoring program, Anne Soikkeli was assigned as Kinnari’s mentor. Soikkeli works at OP Financial Group and is responsible for the business development of Contact Center services at Pohjola Insurance.

“I have always been interested in service design and business, in addition to technology, but entrepreneurship was a whole new territory for me,” says Soikkeli.

However, she did not remain at a loss for long, but turned to her network for help.  She found entrepreneurs among her friends and business partners who were able to spar with Kinnari on the topic of entrepreneurship.

“I myself learned more about entrepreneurship and my own work as well. At the same time, I was able to demonstrate the power of networks to Marjut,” says Soikkeli.

Anne Soikkeli seisoo kadulla, takanaan Nyhavnin värikkäät talot.
Work-life balance. Anne Soikkeli was on holiday in Copenhagen at the end of March, the photo was taken in Nyhavn. Photo: Otso Soikkeli.

Kinnari admits that she first had her doubts about the meetings arranged by Soikkeli with entrepreneurs. Among others, Kinnari met with an entrepreneur who had already retired and a fitness entrepreneur – people at a completely different stage in their career and in a different field from her.

“But they ended up asking some really good questions and their enthusiasm was contagious. I got a lot out of these meetings!”

Soikkeli also spotted entrepreneur coaching for Kinnari in TEK’s events.

“You really understood my wishes, Anne! You thought about what would serve my goals", says Kinnari, thanking her mentor.

In the end, Marjut Kinnari did not become an entrepreneur during the mentoring program. She learned that there are plenty of good things and opportunities to develop in her current job. Maybe someday she may set up a side business, because at least now she has a signposted road to follow to self-employment.

Mentoring takes time

This was the second time that Anne Soikkeli participated in TEK’s mentoring program. You can read about her experiences in the previous program in an article in TEK Magazine (in Finnish) from July 2021.

While Soikkeli was mentoring Marjut Kinnari, she also had an actor in another mentoring program. Soikkeli plans on organizing mentoring-type activities at her workplace.

“The mentoring program inspired me to start studying design thinking as part of product and service design. After this, I will also develop myself with the help of a coach. Next year, I hope to be able to mentor a younger colleague as well,” says Soikkeli.

Soikkeli believes that her long work experience can help younger colleagues.

“Your job may not always be what you dreamed of, but if you’re feeling irritated at work every single day, you shouldn’t simply wait and do nothing, but consider other options,” she says.

Soikkeli’s mentoring style can be described as agile, a quality that stems from her other duties. At OP Financial Group, work is planned two weeks ahead, and Soikkeli did not want to lock anything in with Kinnari too far in the future.

This style suited Kinnari well. She found the flexibility helpful.

“I had a feeling I could send a message to Anne wherever I was and tell her if something in our communication wasn’t working.”

Soikkeli and Kinnari communicated mainly via email and Teams. Finding a time that worked for both of them was tough, because both worked during the day and also had various hobbies and training events to attend.

“I didn't want Marjut to have to listen to her mentor babble on about something after a long day. But we handled this well in the end,” says Soikkeli.

In retrospect, something that Kinnari would do differently now was reserve more time for mentoring. She had many irons in the fire, especially last autumn.

“You need to make time for this process. I would have wanted to have more time to talk with the other actors,” says Kinnari.

Both Kinnari and Soikkeli wanted more in-person live sessions in the mentoring program. But they are happy with the experience as a whole.

“Assessing your work with an outsider was a useful exercise,” says Kinnari to sum up.

image with text

Marjut Kinnari went rock climbing in Lofoten in summer 2022. The specific type of climbing pictured is multi-pitch trad climbing, where the climber ascends a route with more than one pitch, relying on anchors they build themselves.

TEK’s mentoring program 2022–23

  • TEK's mentoring program began in October 2022 and ended in April 2023. This was the third mentoring program organized by TEK. TEK started providing mentoring to meet its members’ wishes.
  • The program involved 53 mentor-actor pairs. The actors had graduated 0–10 years ago. The mentors had longer careers, but previous mentoring experience was not required.
  • The mentoring program consisted of three joint group sessions: a start-up session, inspiration session and closing session. There was also a sparring event for mentors. In addition to the joint sessions, it was recommended that each pair meet once a month. The pairs could freely decide what their meetings would be about; the virtual platform of the program contained material to support mentoring.
  • The program received positive feedback from the participants regarding its duration (six months) and support materials, as well as the pairings, i.e., that the actor and mentor were a good match.
  • These are some of the goals that the participants set for themselves in this particular program: 
    • Actors: clarifying professional identity, stronger self-esteem, planning for the future, developing as a supervisor and leader, finding a new job, becoming familiar with a new industry
    • Mentors: insight into supervision and leadership, learning from the actor's perspectives and experiences and applying these ideas at work, supporting the actor at various points in their career, building professional confidence and motivation in the actor

New program set to be launched in October 2023

  • TEK's next mentoring program is set to begin in October 2023. Applications will open this summer. Follow TEK’s communication: member newsletters, social media and the website.
  • The six-month program will be organized virtually, meaning that you can take part no matter where in Finland or in the world you live.
  • You can apply to become an actor if you have graduated 0–10 years ago.
  • This will be our first mentoring program to which English-speaking actors may also apply.

Information provided by TEK's Career Coach Maisa Holm.