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Banking on cyber security

Michael Sandelson

12.02.19 4 min. read

Jyrki Tulokas, Executive Vice President, Cyber Security Products & Services, did not always think he was going to work at F-Secure.

“I got to know computers at home and I started my career in IT when I was 15, working in internal IT admin for bigger companies during evenings, weekends and summers until I was 20,” he says. “I did some coding there too. After that I went to university.”

France followed Finland for Jyrki when it came to completing his Master’s degree, which was in Economics. He ended up working for a French bank in Corporate Finance and M&A. His career in cyber security began in 1998 when he started at Data Fellows (now F-Secure), graduating from part-time to fixed-term.

“I worked at F-Secure until 2004 in Product Management, Product Marketing, and Business Management and moved to AmerSports in 2005, where I headed Business Development and Strategy,” he explains.

Some three years later, he returned to F-Secure, holding different roles including Sales, Product Management, and Strategy. Jyrki has also studied at the Stockholm School of Economics and the INSEAD Business School.

High stakes

He confesses that he picked cyber security “a bit by accident. I first thought I’d become a banker while I was studying, but had gotten familiar with Data Fellows while I was doing IT admin work.”

“The company was one of the hottest software firms to work for in 1998, so I ended up learning about malware and the security industry. I found it to be a fast-growing and ever-changing business.”

Jyrki says that he has been fortunate to get a taste of different types of jobs in his time at multicultural F-Secure, which has seen many highlights.

“But if I have to mention one [particular highlight], buying and selling companies or parts of our businesses is always exciting. I’ve had the pleasure of having done quite a few deals in my career. You never know if the deal will go through, however, as they can be quite complex and take time to develop.”

“Moreover, the stakes are usually high in the game. There’s usually a lot of money, legal and contractual stuff, due diligence projects, negotiations, approvals from different stakeholders, people’s jobs involved, and many feelings. Then there are announcements, the integration, and other matters,” he says.

Plains, trains, and windowpanes

Jyrki was one of several key players from F-Secure regarding the acquisition of UK company MWR InfoSecurity in 2018. The schedule was so busy, that not one night was spent in a hotel bed.

“We decided to have one person from our leadership team present at all the biggest MWR sites and I got to go to South-Africa for Monday 18th June, the day the acquisition was announced. But I had to be back in London on the Tuesday and then Helsinki the day after,” he explains.

“So we ended up starting our travel to Johannesburg on Sunday from Helsinki, changed planes in London, and landed in SA on Monday morning. We then spent the day at MWR’s premises, but unfortunately had to take a flight back to London the same evening before the barbeque at the office started. So we flew back to London on the Monday, arriving at 5 a.m. the next day.

He and his colleagues then flew back to Helsinki on the last flight on Tuesday night, which is “no way to save the planet,” he declares.

“We slept two days in planes and had showers in airports during the trip as we had no time for hotels, and food was mostly from airplanes and lounges. We only saw airports, trains, taxis, and offices.”

“Finns don’t beat about the bush”

A polyglot, Jyrki speaks Finnish, English, as well as French and Swedish (both rusty). He has also picked up quite a bit of cultural and linguistic insight along the way. The English word “interesting” is one example.

“Finns are quite straight-talkers, they say what they really think and there’s almost no filter. Different cultures and countries have big differences in this particular area. Brits are very polite, in my view, and I guess that’s why “interesting” is used, even if that’s not really what they mean. I find that French and Germans, for example, are more direct in their feedback,” explains Jyrki.

Cyber security people are an colorful and varied bunch. Quite a few of F-Secure’s Fellows are sports-minded too.

“I do a lot of sports, mostly endurance sports these days,” Jyrki says. “Cross-country skiing is my thing in the winters, running, cycling and swimming during the summer. I also like to maintain our family estate, which involves quite a lot of manual work.”

How is your cross-country skiing in relation to medal-winning Nordic peers the Norwegians?

“I don’t know who you’re talking about. Are there real skiers outside of Finland too?”

Michael Sandelson

12.02.19 4 min. read


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