This is how the Managing Director of the successful software company is introduced at the company's website: “Mikko is the driving force behind Vincit. You can always call him on anything to do with Vincit.” The Tampere - All Bright! Magazine made a phone call and arranged a meeting to find out what kind of a force is driving Vincit forward.
The Tampere-based software company Vincit Oy has grown and gone global in only a few years. The company has also shown up in the headlines, because it has received several awards for its success and its operating methods, among other things.
Just before the All Bright! interview, the Junior Chamber International Tampere chose the company's Managing Director Mikko Kuitunen as the Young Achiever of 2014 in Tampere. Kuitunen admits that the awards feel great, but it's not a good idea to hang on to the high.
– After all, we aren't here for the awards. You still have to stay humble and look forward to the next working day, Kuitunen says, and he clearly means it.
Kuitunen founded Vincit with his business partner in 2007. The idea was to create a workplace that was so good that you would not feel sad that you had to go to work, not even on a Monday morning. Today, the employees are definitely happy, even on official measurements, because the Great Place to Work Institute Finland recently selected Vincit as the best workplace in Finland.
– Work has to be fun. If the work is enjoyable, anybody can work 50 hours per week. On the other hand, as little as 20 hours per week can be too much, if you don't like your job, Kuitunen states.
Kuitunen practises what he preaches and enjoys his own job of “steering Vincit”. Sometimes you have to work hard, and sometimes you need to be able to distance yourself from work. It is easy to find things to do, but there are only so many hours in a day. And that is why you have to prioritise.
– For example, I don't watch TV, and I lift weights and visit friends according to my schedule. Tonight, my schedule says “at home,” Kuitunen describes.
A night at home for Kuitunen means spending time with his wife in peace, with the Internet and the telephone shut down. It is good for the Managing Director to be reachable, but there must be limits – it is not possible to work all the time. Sometimes the situation requires cutting loose for a longer period of time; then travelling or hiking help Kuitunen relax.
– Usually, when I come back from a trip, new ideas are already germinating, says Kuitunen.
Delving a bit deeper into the past. Kuitunen says that as a young schoolboy, he was an energetic trickster, who was very familiar with detention. School in itself went well, but he also had extra energy for placing drawing pins on chairs and gluing desk lids shut – and also for a hobby that later provided a lot of happy moments and useful skills.
– At that time in my home town of Toijala, scouting was a hobby with a lot of street cred. At scouts, I had the chance to experience peer leadership at an early age, and do big projects with lots of responsibility, says Kuitunen.
Scouting was so much in his blood that Kuitunen returned to the hobby as an adult. In the district camp for the Häme Scout District last summer, he was the leader responsible for the programme.
– A two-year project, with an organisation of 300 people, 4,000 campers and a lot of work... It was an excellent opportunity to think about what motivates people to act, Kuitunen says.
Kuitunen also highlights another interest of his between childhood and youth: he was inspired to run for the youth council, got the seat, and followed the decision-making at his home municipality from the box seat for several years.
– By sitting in the town executive board meetings, I had the chance to hear what kind of curious stuff the grown-ups were chattering on about, and I'm sure I also served as reminder for the decision-makers that you have to remember the young people in the municipality, says Kuitunen.
The pranks ended with comprehensive school, and Kuitunen passed his university studies in industrial engineering and management quickly and with honours.
– During my student years, I thought I'd become an investment banker. I drifted towards the software business at my first job during the end of my studies, says Kuitunen. After a few years of working for somebody else, it started to feel like I was “just working” when I was at work, and establishing my own company felt like a good idea.
Kuitunen thinks that he has always had an entrepreneurial approach to work, in any case.
– For me, entrepreneurship is taking more responsibility than what your duties strictly cover.
The rest is Vincit history.