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Women’s power from the north – Tanja Nenonen from Finland

Tanja Nenonen on international cooperation in global teams and her role as Managing Director at the Finland location

Tanja Nenonen has been a part of cbs for 2 ½ years. She was there at the birth of our Finnish location and has been instrumental in building it up. As Managing Director, she has a dual role, because in addition to managing the site, Tanja is a project manager responsible for organizing various projects with international and Finnish customers. We talked to her about what she likes about working in international teams and about her experiences as a woman in IT consulting.  

From project manager on the customer side to managing director

Tanja has been active in the SAP environment for more than 20 years. She started her career as a CRM key user at a Finnish publishing house. In 2007, she moved to Kemira, which is cbs’s customer, where she first worked in Corporate IT in several roles and as a project manager. During this time, she built up a broad SAP know-how and managed projects in Asia, South America and various European countries. As a project manager for Kemira, she lived in South America for a year and worked closely with our team. Her counterpart at the time was Nina Seiler, with whom she kept in close contact even after the project. At their meetings, they often joked about when cbs would open a location in Finland. One day, the time actually came: Tanja was asked if she would be interested in to join cbs helping to set up the branch office. After she left Kemira in end of 2013, Tanja worked, as project manager, in Finnish IT consulting company almost seven years, but mostly  in customer’s project manager and have a “customer hat” on.

The move to cbs marked the first time in her SAP career that she had worked on the partner side. She has now been part of the Finnish cbs team for 2.5 years, which has already grown considerably since its foundation and the team is constantly on the lookout for new talent. In addition to some Finnish clients, such as Kemira, the team works on global projects. This requires close cooperation with teams from other cbs locations. 

„I really like to get to know new cultures and I am always interested to learn about the people.”  
Tanja Nenonen
Managing Director cbs Finnland

International cooperation and learning from each other

That’s also what Tanja enjoys most about her work and her projects. She likes the independence and trust that cbs places in her and the communication with colleagues at other locations. Now that the groundwork has been laid at the Finnish location, the focus is increasingly on sales and marketing – new challenges, but ones that Tanja looks forward to with positivity and excitement. In the context of her global projects, it is above all the regular meetings that enable exchange and “learning from each other”. She is also in close contact with other site managers regarding issues that arise for her as Managing DirectorIn this way, Tanja has built up a large network in a wide variety of countries over the years. “I enjoy getting to know new cultures and am always interested in learning about the people.” Many friendships from former projects therefore still exist today. 

„I am very proud of cbs and its work culture. And I am always very happy to tell people about it 
Tanja Nenonen
Managing Director cbs Finnland

In the context of their international work, cultural differences are not uncommon. Finland and Germany still differ the least. Only when it comes to feedback, she says, are there differences. German colleagues usually give direct feedback, which she appreciates. Overall, however, the similarities in communication and working methods clearly outweigh the differences. The situation is different, for example, when working with colleagues from the APAC region. Here, she often encounters more hierarchical structures. The collaboration in South America is also different. In addition to the different time concept, she particularly remembers that it is important for colleagues to celebrate every milestone and success in a fitting manner. Adjusting to these differences was usually not a big problem for Tanja. But that also depends on how well you get along with the team in general and how easy communication is, she says. 

A work culture based on helpfulness and openness

The opportunity for international collaboration is just one of the many facets that Tanja appreciates about her job at cbs. She is also particularly enthusiastic about the work culture and the values of the Power of Orange. For her, this includes the willingness to help and openness, being able to ask someone about problems at any time, and then getting support. Tanja is proud that cbs succeeds in networking the various locations so well and in managing projects together as One Global Company. Since it’s not possible to be an expert in every area in the various customer projects, the close cooperation with colleagues from other locations allows her to benefit from their expertise. This works above all by eliminating classic hierarchies and by meeting each other at eye level. “I am very proud of cbs and our work culture. And I’m always happy when I can tell people about it. It was relatively easy for me to establish this work culture at the new Finnish location because I already knew cbs from my collaboration on the Kemira project and knew that the culture we lived fits Finland. Here, too, rigid hierarchies are rather the rarity.” 

„The Power of Orange for me means teamwork, committment, passion, equality,  opportuities to learn, attitude to to my best and support my colleagues. 
Tanja Nenonen
Managing Director cbs Finnland

When hiring new colleagues, it is also important to Tanja to convey the cbs values in order to find candidates who really fit the team and the corporate culture. Many of them come from other larger consultancies, which are characterized by a less flexible structure.  

For the future, Tanja can definitely imagine moving to another of the 22 cbs locations. The fact that this is possible and is even encouraged by cbs also demonstrates the company’s goal of supporting employees in their individual development. She observes this, for example, in her own team, which also includes German consultants moved to Finland. 

As a woman in a male dominated sector

Tanja is so far the only woman within cbs to hold a position as Managing Director. This proves that the IT and consulting industry is still considered a typical male domain. For Tanja, however, this has never been a problem: “I never had the feeling that I had to perform better than my male colleagues. Nevertheless, this is an important topic that is rightly the subject of public discussion. Personally, though, I’ve never really given it much thought. I just try to do my  work as best I can.” The fact that cbs also has a larger proportion of male consultants is of course noticeable, especially at events like the Summer Summit. But ultimately, she says, it comes down to one’s own interests. A lot of it also has to do with attitude: “I’ve found that if you put your motivation out there and take responsibility, even need to go out of my own comfort zone quite often, it’s also reflected back positively.” 

Finland as a pioneer in the field of equality

Finland is a pioneer in the field of equal rights. The country can look back on a considerable number of former female prime ministers, and 12 of the 19 ministerial posts are currently held by women. Part-time work is not so common as for example in Germany; as a rule, both parents in families go back to work full-time quickly after the maternity or parential leave. The state supports this much more than it does in other countries, for example through a legal right to a daycare place. Employers therefore have less of a role in supporting such services. What companies can support, however, is in communicating equal rights when it comes to parental leave. 

Just as Finland sets a good example for equal rights for women, Tanja is a role model for strong women within the IT industry. And indeed, there are now more female consultants than male consultants in the Finnish cbs team. In general, Tanja has the feeling that a lot is moving on this issue at the moment. At the Summer Summit in June, she remembers how inspiring she found it to meet the many young talents there – including many young women who have found their way into IT consulting. As Tanja describes it, there was an impressive energy emanating from them that you could feel and that makes you hopeful for the future. 

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