“When I was asked whether I wanted to move to the United States, I slept on it and said yes. I didn’t have to think twice; it was the right time for me to do it.”
Our Head of Product Management, SCM Architecture and Performance, Rosa Leinonen has grown with us at RELEX for eight years. After finishing her studies at the university, her career path has taken her to our Atlanta office for a few years and brought her back to Finland to our headquarters. Over the years, we have been lucky to have her in many different roles matching with her own ambitions.
Rosa’s background shows that there isn’t just one path to being a Product Manager, but in fact, a broad experience in various roles can be an asset.
“All my career changes at RELEX have always progressed through starting a conversation. For me, our culture means opportunities and freedom to try different things. I can always find the right people to talk to, present my ideas and wishes, and be heard”, Rosa says.
From the school bench to America
During her university studies, Rosa first started at RELEX in the role of Junior Software Developer. Today it would be equal to the role of Technical Analyst.
“It was an interesting start because, at that time, we had no proper orientation process yet. Little by little, I found out what we were doing”, Rosa laughs. “Anyway, I immediately got responsibilities, started working in the customer interface, and felt everyone trusted me. I liked the startup world from the beginning because the job description is always inherently broad.”
At the same time, Rosa was looking for a subject for her thesis. She thought she wouldn’t choose a subject until she found something truly interesting. She started talking to different people at RELEX.
“I searched for the subject for about three months until I found the perfect one. I did an interesting, mathematical and challenging product development project for our customer”, Rosa thinks back.
After graduation, Rosa was offered a managerial position in technical consulting at the Sweden office. Her colleague Jasmin, who worked in the role, moved to the United States to lead our Atlanta team. Rosa started leading the Swedish team and hired new people for it.
After leading the Swedish team for 1.5 years, Jasmin asked if Rosa would be interested in moving to Atlanta.
“I slept on it and said yes. It was the right time for me to leave and jump to the role of Senior Technical Consultant. I am happy that I did because all my expectations were met. The work was meaningful, and at the same time, I got to travel, experience the culture and make new friends”, Rosa says.
“In Atlanta, I worked with a large client, a size I had never experienced before and would not be available in the Nordics. I also hoped for a managerial position again, and that’s what I got when Jasmin moved back to Finland. I stayed to lead the team and recruit new people. Those years of my life were super busy, and we grew at a rapid pace in the United States.”
Back to Finland after three years of living abroad
After spending almost three years in the US, Rosa began to feel like moving back to Finland to be closer to her family and loved ones.
“All my career changes have always progressed through discussion, and this situation made no exception either. When I asked if there was something available for me in Finland at our headquarters, we started to look for a suitable role with people I had worked with during my thesis project”, Rosa says.
Her wishes were heard. Although up to 1,000 people have been hired at RELEX, Rosa says that the culture has not changed in this sense.
“We found a role in Finland where I could combine my technical expertise and make a move to the product development side. I felt that I had the skills, but the task would be challenging. Because of that, I knew Product Manager would be the right role for me”, Rosa says with a smile.
Working as a Head of Product Management at RELEX headquarters
Shortly after moving to Finland and starting in the new role, Rosa got promoted to Senior Product Manager. Currently she leads the SCM Architecture and Performance Product Management team, which is responsible for developing the platform of RELEX’s supply chain optimization solution. According to Rosa, RELEX aims for high growth, and of course, our growth is based on the product we develop.
“Our product is trusted throughout the company, and a lot is expected of it. We boldly set out to try new things and make changes. The distributed architecture I work with right now is an example of a big change we have made in the past years. Our underlying idea is always to keep the product current, and we are ready to act on it”, Rosa says.
Over the years, Rosa has gained experience in leadership, expert work, various international markets, leading large customer projects, and living abroad. Even after eight years in her work at RELEX, Rosa is particularly inspired by one thing.
“I think about our customers and what they need to be competitive and thrive. I am socially oriented and believe in diversity in the business field. I think that the best kind of society and ideas come from the fact that there is diversity. I would not want to imagine a world with just one or two big retailers. In my work at RELEX, I can contribute to this: keeping the business world diverse and open for new players by providing them with the right tools”, Rosa says.
Rosa’s top 3 learnings about living in the US:
1. “If you move to a different country and find people in your own age group, they will be like you. One would think they would be very different, but the internet age evens out cultural differences. Making friends was easy.”
2. “You will learn to see both the pros and cons in both your own and the other culture. It is interesting to see how different issues have been resolved in the rest of the world. However, I am European in my world of values. We could still learn a lot from Americans: people there are less lonely.”
3. “At the same time, you learn about yourself. It was easy to make friends, and conversation always evokes new ideas. The more diverse people you meet, the better you learn to listen. You gather like-minded people around you in the same circle, but the new environment shakes the mindset. So, I can encourage you to go out into the world!”