General

Why am I here? Sanna

May 15, 2020

After spending years in corporations, I fell in love with the freedom of being an entrepreneur. One of the best things I got to do with that freedom was start Aamu Partners together with our board.

Wanted: a career for competitive and ambitious people

Growing up, I was your typical straight-A student. If you’d ask me to describe my young self in two words, I’d pick competitive and ambitious. I knew I could go anywhere I wanted. So, I picked business school. When I graduated in 1997, it seemed natural to find a career that was as competitive and ambitious as I was.

So, I dove headfirst into corporations. First came Unilever. I started as a marketing trainee and went on to manage Piltti baby foods. Picture me: a single 20-something, with no experience on children, writing editorials about infant nutrition! It was a time that taught me a lot; I was always interested in marketing and Unilever helped me get the basics down. 

After Unilever came Fazer, Telia-Sonera and Honkarakenne. One corporation after another, where I spent all years working with marketing, brand management and strategy. Then, in 2013 I faced a turning point: it was time to leave Honka and ask myself, “what’s next?”

What if I started my own company?

This is the turning point in my story that eventually brought me to Aamu: I stumbled across entrepreneurship. We didn’t have any entrepreneurs in my family. The idea had always sounded foreign and scary. The first time a friend told me to start my own business, I laughed. The second time they did, I wasn’t laughing anymore. The idea had started to brew.

Then the day came, when I decided I was going to try. I still have a vivid memory of sitting on the couch and telling my husband that I was going to start my own company. I remember almost seeing the sweat form on his forehead!

From being a business mentor to a board member

Now, I’ve been an entrepreneur for 7 years. You couldn’t get me back into a corporation, even if you tried! I’m in love with the freedom I have. In a corporation, I was always tied to my own role. Now, I get to do anything and everything, whether it’s being a business mentor in Uganda or working as an interim executive right here in Finland. I’ve also enjoyed being a board member, because it satisfies a certain kind of curiosity. I get to jump straight into different companies and help with their top-level strategy, which is really interesting.

Then, we founded Aamu Partners. It happened in a blink of an eye: one morning I got a call from Anders and by the end of the day, I remember thinking: “I guess we’re starting a company now.” 

Aamu has been one of the most exciting things about my time as an entrepreneur. We have an amazing team of people who all share my competitive spirit, but are different enough to complement each other as a team.

The future is whatever you want it to be

What’s next? Who knows – I’m still figuring out what I want to be when I grow up! The best part about being an entrepreneur is that I don’t have to decide. One thing I’m extremely optimistic about is Aamu: I think we have the keys to something really big in our hands.

The biggest lesson I’ve learned is that I can do it. When you’re in a corporation and used to the security it gives, taking that leap into the unknown seems terrifying. For me, I had already made a career for myself, so I was in a good place to jump. And after I did, I realized I could do whatever I wanted. Start multiple companies? Become a yoga teacher? Why not – after we get through these strange times, of course. It does not matter, really. Because I get to choose.

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