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Oct 10, 2019 5:15:00 PM

Simo Hakkarainen joins Columbia Road

Olivia Helle

Marketing Lead, Finland

Simo_HakkarainenHi Simo, How did you get good at what you do?

I’d say that my strong sense of empathy for other people has brought me a long way. It’s something that’s always been there, but during my university studies it took the form of usability, user experience and user-centric product development. These experiences shoved me into the world of service design and design thinking, but I only learned these terms when I joined Futurice in 2012. Since then I’ve been working closely in the domains of service design, analytics and business advisory – being responsible for taking new concepts from initial ideas through planning, prototyping and validation to implementation, launch and beyond.

Where have you earned your spurs?

To be honest, I feel that I haven’t – at least not in the sense that I could pinpoint a specific outcome that was achieved because of my expertise and input. Working in such early stages of research and development, concrete impact and results are very much in the form of hypotheses, guesses and assumptions. And there’s nothing wrong with that: one of the key reasons why new innovations tend to fail is premature emphasis on revenue optimisation over things like product-market fit, for example. However, after 7.5 years and numerous launched (and unlaunched) products, services, applications, sites and systems in industries ranging from financial and energy to machinery and retail, I started to feel that I need to put myself in the position where the work I do also has a very concrete business impact, a measuring stick that tells me we’re doing the right thing.

Why Columbia Road?

Columbia Road has been able to build a strong reputation in delivering concrete results in the digital business domain. In this context it’s not so much about ticking boxes in a sheet but rather growing and optimising real, ongoing, business. This often means more responsibility but also more access and mandate to achieve great things. I feel that applying my existing skills and experiences provides immediate value but there’s also so much to learn and to unlearn – and that’s what I’m after. Covering the whole funnel from early-stage business ideas to actually making concrete business with it is bound to be a useful toolbox to have in the long run.

Lauri, what will make our clients love Simo?

"Simo is an exceedingly empathetic person, who always reflects to how our clients and the end-users feel and what their needs are. He is a responsible and kind character who is easy to work with, and also possesses a solid toolset in analytics and data understanding. He’s intrigued by complex systems and business models and enjoys solving problems in them whilst comfortably jumping from tactical details to working with the strategic big picture. Essentially, Simo is a combination of engineer and design thinking, put together with an analytics driven mindset and business understanding,” says Lauri Eloranta, Managing Partner at Columbia Road.

What makes your heart beat a little faster?

“My family. Most of my time outside working hours is spent playing hide and seek with my 2-year-old daughter (and wife, believe or not) or going to a nearby playground. When I’m not spending time with my family, I might be playing football (still once or twice a week) or tweaking my fantasy American football roster. And when there’s time and space, I do enjoy cooking, travelling and trying new restaurants,” says Simo.


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