Gaia blog

Looked far, and the best was next to me – why I chose Gaia

19.09.2019

Some time ago, I attended an event with a well-known Finnish board professional as a keynote speaker. In his talk, he quoted the famous poem by Aaro Hellaakoski:

You are a prisoner of the road you follow
Only the untrodden snowdrift is free

The speaker used the quote to set up his claim that most companies follow the same roads, and that only a few seek something completely new, that is, brave the untrodden snowdrift. Then he said that the only Finnish company in untrodden snow is Neste – without knowing that I, the then-EVP of the Renewable Products business area at Neste, was in the audience.

I was naturally flattered by the speech. Later, I have myself used the figure of speech about untrodden snow.

Now is the time to use it again. Becoming a partner at Gaia and starting to build its services for strategic consultancy is a venture into the untrodden snow.

Many people will naturally ask me why I have chosen to work at a smallish consultancy after years at a large, global corporation. There are a number of reasons for that.

Throughout my career, I have worked on questions of sustainability, first in the academic world, then at Neste. Now I want to approach the question from a different vantage point, as a consultant to corporate leadership. In a large corporation, one can only have influence within one corporation and one industry, whereas in consulting, I am fascinated by the spectrum of different industries, segments and companies involved.

I considered consulting, reviewed number of consulting companies globally, and found the best near to me. Gaia may look like a smallish Finnish company, but in fact it operates globally and embodies an unbelievable range of deep, science-based expertise in different fields. The same cannot be said about even the largest international consultancies.

I also want to do work that brings about concrete results and has real purpose. The climate crisis doesn’t leave us with any time to waste. That’s why I want to take part in solving complex climate and environmental challenges over a range of industries. Working at Gaia will give me an opportunity to do just that.

The third reason for choosing Gaia is purely personal. I know I am an off-track skier by nature, and quite a pioneering spirit.

That should not be misunderstood. Off-track skiing does not mean wandering haphazardly in the wilderness. On the contrary. A good off-track skier never starts her trip without a precise plan, and always follows it rigorously. There will undoubtedly be unplanned surprises, but those also become a part of the plan in a controlled manner. And the journey continues.

That’s what our work at Gaia is also about. We want to help our clients make strategic choices which are in harmony with the principles of sustainable development, but which are also economically sound. To succeed in that, many kinds of expertise and rigorous planning are needed. It may mean venturing into the untrodden snowdrift, but there is nothing haphazard or reckless about it.

Kaisa Hietala

Partner

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