Leadership profiles: Esa Mäkelä

In the Leadership profile series, we aim to highlight our leaders who are living by our values and leading by example by promoting the culture for growth and innovation.  

Our first participant is Esa Mäkelä, Vice President of Cloud and Applications. 

Leadership  Leadership%20profile%20Etteplan%20Esa%20M%C3%A4kel%C3%A4%20_1.jpg

How would you describe yourself as a leader?  

This is a people business we are working in; everything starts from the people. What is important is team spirit, and a psychologically safe working environment. Esa aims to be accessible, easy to reach - this is especially important because this creates space for dialogue where challenges can be raised and tackled before they become problems. Cooperation is another critical point; a team is not just one person.  

“I love to help others to succeed” Esa states and explains that his success comes when his team is enjoying their work and does well “it starts from the people; it starts from the team. I am happy when they succeed.”  

How does Etteplan support leadership and growth?  

Having been with Etteplan since 2018 Esa has learned that the company has a strong support network willing to help whenever needed. 

“You have all the support you need to grow your team, the business (globally), and yourself also.” The support functions such as training, and communication have been especially important during these COVID times and remote work. “I have participated in this E-Lead or remote leadership program that Etteplan has offered, giving us great tools that we can utilize remotely,” Esa also recognizes the influence that learning in a multicultural environment has had in developing himself as a leader.  

Working with different kinds of people and teams in different cities and countries can be a challenge in any circumstances, let alone during a global pandemic. Leadership, communication, and tools to help Esa support his team. “Communication in such a big company is crucial - you need to stay connected to people in different parts of the organization. These discussions are very important.”  


How would you describe the culture at Etteplan? 

Esa describes the company culture explaining, “Hierarchy is not present in the daily life and the organization feels very open. It is psychologically safe to work as a leader or employee. Leaders and employees are fully trusted and expected to raise issues, that is just how we do things.” It was important for Esa to express that while Etteplan has a long history, parts of the company are young, and all areas continue to learn and grow. He proceeds to describe how you can get great possibilities to influence where the business goes, “Your word is heard. MY word has been listened to, we are developing together, the company and ourselves.” Support and all necessary tools for success are provided. It is up to each individual and leader what tools they use. “You can be yourself” Esa concludes, reiterating his belief that his people should be comfortable sharing their ideas and experiences – this way teammates can help each other. 

In what ways do you feel you have an impact on the company culture? 

“I think me, myself, and my team we have together had an impact! For example, I believe that you need to get people to participate so that you can get the commitment from the people.” Esa feels passionately about his employees' and colleagues' wellbeing, an important part of this is making sure that they feel comfortable. Through leading by example, his team has been able to implement a cultural practice of listening, participating, and through this achieving a high level of commitment.  

"I believe that you need to get people to participate, I feel that with my example I have been able to bring company culture elements to Etteplan from a modern software company.” 


Our values are Customer oriented, attractive, and proactive. What do they mean to you? 

“Being customer-oriented means for me that we need to listen to our customer and be like a tour guide for their digitalization journey. We need to understand their business and the challenges they face, we know digitalization and technology, so it is our job to help our customers navigate these areas.”  

Looking at this from a different angle, Esa views his employees as “customers,” and recognizes the importance in listening to them also and being employee oriented. 

“Our employees are what makes the magic happen” 

Being attractive means the need to offer the best workplace for employees and great possibilities to grow in their career. For customers this is the need to offer the best available tools and methods to develop their business for digitalization.  

“Like I mentioned earlier, this is also approached from two angles. We need to be the tour guides, proactive means that we need to develop and challenge customers and ourselves.” 

How are the values seen in practice? 

"Values have an especially significant role in my leadership. Values guide decision making especially in situations when it is difficult to make a decision based on facts and numbers.”  

 – it is not always about calculations. In situations where decision making is difficult, Esa refers to the values. 

 Esa’s personal interpretation is that each value is two-sided, for the customer and the employee. Meaning that being customer oriented, attractive, and proactive should be applied to each context as a leader.  

Wildcard: If you could offer one piece of advice about anything, what would it be? 

Try to find peoples natural ability, natural talent what people love to do. If you can use and play on this natural talent of each individual and make them feel comfortable – this is where you will see your team succeed. 

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