Katariina Säntti ja Hanna Heinonen

The mindset of a forerunner – riding the crest of the wave in the developing banking sector

According to Katariina Säntti and Hanna Heinonen, the continuous change in the financial sector can be seen in the positive development of working culture.

Silos are conspicuous by their absence.

“OP’s corporate culture has changed completely during my time here. Nowadays almost everyone works across business boundaries, and there are more stakeholder groups than ever before.”

Katariina Säntti knows from 13 years’ experience what she is talking about. She has had ringside seats to the digital breakthrough in the financial sector and has personally contributed to it through OP’s payment transfer development. Continuous development, introduction of new payment methods to the consumer market and customer surveys are things she deals with on a weekly basis. Säntti, who currently holds a management position, knows the OP operating culture like the back of her hand.

Hanna Heinonen, on the other hand, who joined OP only three months ago, has brought a fresh angle to the digital customer experience to meet demanding consumer standards. Before joining OP, she worked for six years at media company Sanoma, specialising in digital sales and paths to purchase.

“I was actually quite happy at Sanoma, but a phone call from OP made me think,” says Heinonen.

She was asked to join a team developing the digital aspects of banking. Putting her back into her new job, she was thrilled by OP’s big vision about development of the digital customer experience on a broad front.

“At first I was taken aback by being contacted, but in the end I just had to jump in, because I was already so familiar with digital development. I was also attracted by a change of scenery.”

Approaching work from a different angle and the ambitious, continuous development in a new operating environment made Heinonen join OP.

“No resistance to change”

Säntti and Heinonen are in different stages of their careers at OP, but they have many things in common, ranging from forward-driving attitude to understanding the customer experience. Many aspects of OP’s corporate culture stem from proactive individuals, which is in turn reflected in the atmosphere.

“There is no resistance to change here,” says Säntti.

“It came as a positive surprise to me when I started working here. People here are committed to our strategy that as the world changes, we change with it,” she says.

Both Säntti and Heinonen value the atmosphere that embraces openness and discussion. This is reflected in both internal and external communications.

“You don’t have to beat about the bush here if you see something that needs developing or fixing. You can bring up anything that needs to be improved,” says Heinonen.

Openness is not only restricted to a dialogue between employees, but lies at the core of the operating culture. Not even members of the senior management have their own rooms at OP, the management is a visible and accessible part of the work community.

“It is great to have management you can approach easily. I can put forward big ideas and be heard,” she says.

Säntti and Heinonen see that OP’s new ultramodern head office in Vallila, Helsinki enables a new kind of corporate culture. This, according to Säntti, is visible in openness and the general way of going about business.

“Meetings are kept very informal in the light well in the middle of the building. Many also have Skype meetings in the lobby. The operating premises support fluent ways of working and quick reaction.”

Heinonen considers it a richness in her work that the atmosphere is so warm and people are easy to approach. It encourages people to network.

“It is great how much you can learn from your co-workers, because people work on so many different things. Everyone is helpful and prepared to tell about their own work. We have a fine culture of sharing what we know,” says Heinonen, summing up.

Motivated by work that affects the lives of 1.7 million people in Finland

The main reason why Säntti says she has enjoyed working at OP is that, through different job descriptions, she has been part of creating something new. E-invoicing, which was launched during the early part of her career, has revolutionised banking, but plenty more has happened, too, such as a drop in cash use and the introduction of contactless payment and new mobile payment methods.

“One of the great things about my work is that I can be part of a major change. Being able to contribute to that change brings on greater meaning.”

Heinonen and her colleagues who develop digital services always try to be one step ahead of consumer expectations. New projects and digitisation of various processes all have their own challenges.

“Customer’s needs grow all the time, and we try to meet them as well as we can. Whatever we do relates to our customers’ world and what their needs are. We must look into the future all the time, also how the youth of today will eventually use banking services,” explains Heinonen.

A consumer-oriented approach plays a major role in the work of Säntti and Heinonen. They have to keep up with the times, and actually a bit ahead of the times. This pioneering spirit brings passion into the work that corresponds to the way Heinonen is accustomed to working.

“I feel I’m now exactly where I want to be. The work allows me to do big and interesting things which the entire OP wants to focus on.”

Thirteen years into her career at OP and projects that have taught her much, Säntti still finds new ways to improve her competence. Motivation is high, very high indeed.

“I enjoy working at the core of the banking world. I am motivated by challenges that enable me to study aspects that are still new to me. There is still plenty to learn.”