Elina Björklund, you are CEO of Reima. Would you tell us about yourself and your career path?
I am 48 years old and I graduated from the Helsinki School of Economics. I went for an exchange to London to study finance at the City University Business School. Thanks to the exchange, I got my first job as an Equity Analyst for Kansallisosake-Pankki (KOP). In 1993-1994, the economy was in recession and the bank was recruiting for the first time in years. When KOP and SYP merged, I was appointed the Chief Equity Analyst.
I have three children and I was a stay-at-home mother for almost six years. After that, I took on a job as the Development Manager for Iittala. Relatively soon I got profit and loss responsibility for all direct-to-consumer retail, meaning all stores as well as online sales. Soon I was responsible for global brand management of Iittala. That is how I got into touch with the Chinese market for the first time.
In 2010, I decided to move to China with my family and I founded a consulting company with my husband. Reima was our client and we opened the Chinese market for them. Soon I was offered the job as the CEO of Reima and I have been in this role for six years.
Reima’s mission is the joy of movement. Today, inactive children are a universal challenge. One reason behind that are video games. When building Reima’s strategy we thought that a child often chooses video games over playing outdoors. We did not want to oppose to games that bring joy to children, but instead, we wanted to take the games outdoors with the children and gamify playing outdoors. We designed the Reima Go wearable activity sensor together with Suunto. Inside the sensor, an accelerometer measures the intensity of the child’s movement. You can follow activity data on your mobile during the day at school or daycare. The more kids move, the faster they progress in the game and the more rewards they get. ReimaGo inspires kids and families to move more together.
How did you end up studying business?
I graduated from the Helsinki School of Economics. I studied international economics, mathematics and finance. I ended up studying there, because I felt I was not technical enough to study at the Helsinki University of Technology. I also considered applying for the School of Arts and Design, but I felt that by choosing business studies I kept all my options open. I enjoy mathematics a lot and that is how I chose my major and minor. Economics has always been close to my heart. After studying the Pekkarinen-Sutela book for the entrance examination, I realized what this field was about and I wanted to study it.
What is the best memory you have from your time studying?
My best memories have to do with my activities at the student union. I had a fantastic position as the Secretary of Foreign Affairs for the Business Student Association (KY). I learned a lot and had so much fun - and I got paid for it. Being a student is the best time of your life. You are free and only accountable for yourself.
What is the most valuable thing you learned at university, which has helped you in your professional life?
When I was studying in London for an MBA, I had so much to do that I learned the concept of “good enough”. You need to do your best, but you also need to finish things and let them go, when they are good enough. Especially women tend to be perfectionists, but you will never get anything done that way. You need to be able to consider what is good enough.
Tell us something surprising about yourself?
I have 80 Chinese passport stamps on my passport. That means I have entered China 80 times over the past seven years.
What should everyone do and experience at least once in a lifetime?
Having a child evokes such strong emotions that I wish everyone would have the chance to experience it.