What’s it like to be a Finn working in the United States?
For Timo Laaksonen — who was raised on the stunning coasts of the Finnish archipelago, the largest stretch of islands in the world — it’s no big deal.
“Working in the U.S. differs surprisingly little from working in Finland,” Timo told me. “Sure, there are minor differences here and there but deep down the dynamics of business are similar.”
As the Vice President, North America, Operator Sales, Timo has spent the last few years in New Jersey working with F-Secure’s many operator partners in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
“Ultimately, it’s all about being worthy of your word, honest and transparent, and building trust on real substance and facts,” he said. “I’ve found these to be universal qualities in the many countries I’ve worked in over my career.”
F-Secure’s operator partners have played a key role in the company’s history. And so has Timo.
And the early 00’s, the company recognized that many of the computer users who weren’t yet protecting themselves with a quality anti-virus solution were getting their internet connection through their cable operator. It was an ideal opportunity to grow the business and protect hundreds of millions of new internet users. The scrappy fellows from Helsinki reached out across the world to forge partnerships with over 200 providers that are still going strong today.
Toward the beginning of this decade, F-Secure was at another crossroads. The project of convincing all users to protect their PCs had been a success. To expand, the company needed new avenues that focused on its core competencies — like securing users private data — while expanding its opportunities for growth.
The company decided to launch new ventures, including Freedome VPN and a secure cloud storage business. While Freedome took off, the storage business was — shall we say — competitive.
With the cloud offering in “dire straits,” Timo saw an opportunity.
“We turned the business into an asset that resulted in a valuable trade sale – which in turn allowed F-Secure to refocus its investments on its core security business.”
After that success, he was able to take on the United States, where he’d attended college for __ year.
“We’ve built a great team that has produced multiple years of double-digit growth in the North American operator business – in a consumer security market that grows 1-2 percent a year.”
The change has him “still feeling young and full of energy at this age,” which is a bit older than F-Secure’s 30 years.
After _ years at the company, he still loves the purpose his job gives him and the spirit of the company.
“There’s a culture of standing by your fellows – supporting them to grow to their full potential and helping them succeed at what they do – resulting in a feeling that we’re united in facing a market full of challenges and opportunities.”
Looking back 30 years, he’d just returned to Finland after 2 1/2 years in Spain and joined a marketing team that was one of the first Finnish ventures to break into the international market. Looking forward 30 years, he’s thrilled by the thought of innovation making “the world a better place.”
He’s not sure whether he’ll be in Finland, Spain or the United States then. But he’s sure that he’ll be in be in a better place because of the “good and smart people of F-Secure who keep me pushing higher and further.”
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