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Driving Change and VOI Scooters
Article written by Taika Nummi, Adecco Finland CEO for One Month 2020
One thing that I have learnt in my short but eventful month as Adecco Finland’s CEO for One Month is that CEO life is crazy busy. Fortunately, I have been lucky and instead of running around from one place to another, I have been scooting around with a VOI scooter. Actually, I arrive even quicker to work by scooter than I would arrive by car or public transportation. VOI has been such a time saver.
And not only is VOI a time saver, VOI is on a mission to save our cities by lowering emission and noise pollution.
Not only am I a super big fan of scooting around with VOI, I am an even bigger fan of their stunningly amazing, intelligent and sassy General Manager Norway & Finland, Christina Moe Gjerde. During my month at Adecco, I had the honor to e-meet this role model and talk about important topics such as corporate responsibility and youth employments – topics which are hugely important to both The Adecco Group and VOI.
Businesses are driving change (and we can be part of it by driving VOI scooters)
Personally, I used to be a sceptic of the business world. I saw these huge corporations as cruel and nasty machinery only trying to make profit in any means possible. Growing up I have come to realize how actually businesses are changing the world one step at a time. Moe Gjerde agrees with me that businesses are about to be changed as well as drive change.
- We have amazing organizations trying to change the world; non-governmental organizations (NGOs), the public and private sector. What often is missing is the collaboration between these organizations. To drive change, we need the public and private sectors to work tightly together.
- In the time that we are in, we know that we must concentrate on becoming more sustainable – no matter who we are. We must lower emissions. For years we have had governments and NGOs thinking and talking about how we can stop global warming. This is great, but it is very holistic in the sense that these organizations struggle to implement anything alone and struggle to bring anything concrete to the table. This is where the private sector steps in. Businesses, such as VOI, are part of the solution that the public sectors and NGOs have been looking for. Now for example we at VOI have a solution to the problem of transport emissions. Suddenly we are the ones pushing on to politics for the change. We have a product that people want to use but now we also need to work together with city planners, regulatory bodies, the visually impaired and many more to really make this business sustainable.
Moe Gjerde says that even though she works for a startup, 20% of her role is talking to politicians, educating them on how VOI works and what kind of help VOI needs from them to make change possible. An additional estimate of 10% of her time goes into collaborating with NGOs.
Businesses as well need to change to accommodate the needs of the youth
Traditionally we come to think that social activists are found in the fields of humanities and social sciences. Moe Gjerde on the other hand went to study business.
- The reason why I went to study business was for a bigger mission. I wanted to understand how society works, I wanted to make an impact. If you don’t understand economics, it is difficult to get a grasp on how the world is run and what improvements are needed. Once you understand how things work, it comes down to finding the organization that is driving towards making the social change you want to see.
Moe Gjerde used to work for consulting firms such as Ernst and Young and AVO. She acknowledged that these were amazing and intense schools for the future, in the sense that they taught her a lot about how businesses and society work. Still there came the point when she felt like she wanted to ‘get her hands dirty’.
- As a consultant you give recommendations and advice, but you never get to have full ownership of the projects. I wanted to know what it was like to take full ownership and there was no better place to do this than in the Tech capital of Europe, Stockholm. I wanted to see the ‘Spotify’ way. And I must say I love working for a startup like VOI because it is so fast paced. Of course, we also have strategies and a need to plan, but most of the time goes into the actual implementing part. This is so rewarding.
In the past years we have seen a huge burst in the startup scene. Lots of young adults dream of starting their business or working in a startup for the exact reason that, just like Moe Gjerde, they feel that startups give the sense of purpose and ownership. More traditional businesses and management roles are losing their appeal.
- Youth want to get their pay and they want a good job, but working around the clock and the responsibility of being a traditional CEO is not for most of them. They value their free time and life outside of work. This is why we have to try to learn what it takes to motivate youth, and also females in particular, to take on these kind of management positions. We really need to begin to understand what it is that motivates people.
- I really wish that academia would be more connected to working life. But youth can also take responsibility in connecting dots between what they learn and what is out there. If this means taking a gap year to go work before finishing your master’s degree – do it! Because then you understand what you want so much better and you have something to connect your studies to. When we hire new team members, I tell them that it is good to have the manual in your head but not your head in the manual.
In addition to academia collaborating with working life, Moe Gjerde wants to challenge companies to offer more internships to the youth. It is important to give youth the freedom to explore and find their place and best fit. Although many companies feel agitated because young adults don’t seem to be as committed to one workplace as employees used to be, this should not be a hindrance to employing young people. It is just important to understand that this is the new standard and there are also many benefits to it. The youth brings energy, new ideas and change to a business.
- We also need more business role models for the youth and especially females.
Role models are a big part of the change
Whether it is a business that acts as a role model for other businesses or individuals that act as role models for other individuals, having something or someone to look up to and feel connected with is crucial. For me, personally, Moe Gjerde is a perfect example of a young female role model in a leadership role at a tech start up. Someone driving this needed change.
- I think we are far from where we should be when it comes to women in leadership roles. And as much as many seem to put it, it is not only on men that are prohibiting females in becoming leaders. It is on all of us to make workplaces better for women. We need a critical mass to represent girls and send the message out that they can do it – they can lead the change they want to see.
- On a side note it is also extremely important to remember that everybody should respect the choices others make of their lives; whether they want to be CEOs or stay at home moms. It is about what makes you happy. It really comes down to personal values.
- Working life today is very different to what it was. It isn’t just about coming to work and leaving work, it is a lot more intertwined with your spare time and the work-life balance has shifted a lot. Therefore, it is so important to find your mission and explore your values, so that your work is not just a paycheck at the end of the month.
Thank you, Christina, and VOI for driving the change!