Jarkko “Jake” Jaakkola joined the company in September 2017. His own team is largely based in Finland, but in a global company an area manager’s days are full of meetings with different teams.
“My days consist of following consumer volumes, trying to find out how people move, and use this data to come up with ideas of different kinds of packages that would serve the customers’ travel needs. I also plan marketing together with the marketing team to ensure what we are planning sells and works with our partners as well. The solution has to fit everyone.”
With the customer service team Jake discusses problem cases, such as technical problems that tell them which parts of the Whim app need improving. This, like the work with the marketing team, requires cooperation with partners to ensure MaaS Global’s own customer service works together with the partner’s and the customer gets the best possible service. In addition, partners and cities are the two additional core target groups MaaS Global works with to develop and maintain their product.
“Usually a company has three core target groups: customers, investors and employees. We have five. So my days are full of discussions with partners and negotiations with mobility and service providers, contract negotiations, maintaining and developing existing relationships, profit responsibility and customer satisfaction. Everything has to be taken into account, and the solution has to be profitable. But I like a challenge.”
Among the challenges lately has been getting used to the new ways of working due to the Covid pandemic. And it definitely has put more pressure on everyone.
“I’ve noticed people respond to pressure differently now. But our company has adapted everyday practices well with the travel restrictions and remote work recommendations. All in all we, a relatively young company with cloud based focus since the beginning, have been in a quite good position to integrate remote work compared to other older companies.”
Combining work and family during a pandemic can be challenging, and most of us would prefer to see our colleagues and partners face-to-face. But we may have learned something new with all this.
“I’ve learned to call people rather than send an email and noticed it’s always better to call. You get more undetected information that way. It also improves the relationship between you and the other person, and like so many others, this job is about personal relationships. It’s good to pick up the phone and ask how things are going.”
Learning is indeed something Jake believes everyone should always be prepared to do. He is a graduate engineer and majored in automotive engineering, but his minor was marketing because he believed understanding it would be important from a commercial point of view. And the combination has been useful: his studies taught him how and why consumers make purchasing decisions.
“It’s been useful, the combination of engineering and marketing. It works well. You shouldn’t just go with aesthetics and user-experience but also think about the functionality of your product.”
Jake’s background has really come in handy at his current job at MaaS Global as well. The job itself came about by picking up the phone and asking one of his contacts what was up.
“When I was looking for a job, I phoned our CEO Sampo Hietanen who I’ve known for over twenty years and asked him if he knew anyone who was looking for a guy like me. He hired me himself to do what I do now. It’s been a lot of learning new things, and I really like that. And I’m the kind of person who has to think during the day or I won’t be able to sleep at night.”
Starting at the MaaS Global headquarters in Helsinki meant Jake’s commute got shorter and his need for a car has decreased. Now he can start his day on the public transport and know exactly what kind of day he is facing before stepping into the office. The evenings are reserved for his two small children, unless a crisis emerges. Of course, decreasing his car usage took some getting used to, especially after the previous commute by car, but it took Jake only about two weeks to understand the benefits.
“It is said that one should do something 21 times for it to become a habit, but recent studies have shown that the average amount of time that is necessary to build a new habit is 66 days. Naturally I had other external reasons to push myself to change, but I’d say my productivity has increased with it. The significance of sustainability in my life has definitely grown with my work, and I’ve started to think more about what we are leaving for our children.”