Get To Know One of Our Co-founders “Jussi Virtanen”

Introducing our co-founder & partner Jussi Virtanen

Who is Jussi?

I’m one of the Co-founders of IWA (pre-Oivan started in 2009). For the first few years of the company’s early days, I enjoyed building services for our customers, finding smarter ways to work, and turning team member’s skills and talent into higher levels.

I relocated from Helsinki to Thailand in 2011 on a whim, as I saw it necessary for Oivan to succeed. After eight years of building and running our Thai office, I returned to Finland in 2018.

Although having a technical background, I prefer interacting with people and building trust and positive relationships with customers. Maybe that’s why I have found myself leading Oivan’s service delivery.

How do you describe your long experience with Oivan and the challenges you faced before?

Oivan is a lot like me or any of our co-founders. I enjoy working at Oivan, and I want to keep working at Oivan. Challenges are part of our work; they push you to the limit and force you to learn new things every day.

After Oivan grew past 60 employees, I really had to self-reflect on how I work and where I focus my time on. In the beginning, I was like any other entrepreneur, a handyman of the company who was ready to do anything to get the customer projects delivered. There is a massive difference between the start of the company and now. When everything became more extensive, I have had to concentrate on functions where I bring the most value to the organization. Luckily, there are people around me that I trust, and I can share responsibilities with them. It doesn’t matter if we are not in the same office.

“The biggest challenge has been letting go of some of the things I enjoyed doing, but I don’t have time anymore.”

How do you share responsibilities with other co-founders? could you tell us more from your management experience perspective.

We have divided responsibilities based on our skills and what motivates and drives us. However, that doesn’t mean we have siloed ourselves; we still work as a team and support each other to meet everyone’s goals. To align our work and help us in decision-making, we are using OKRs (objectives and key results), which we have become to like very much.

What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I have two activities that I enjoy more during my free time, fishing and golfing. Those activities are helping me to improve my mental and physical health and instil a sense of calm. Sometimes you need to unplug and leave your computer and your phone behind and rest your eyes and brain.

How do you deal with stress at work? How do you balance between your work life and social life? 

Stress at work is normal, and it can get the best of us. For me, I like to spend time in Riyadh interacting with customers and building value for them. It keeps my mind busy and gives me a clear focus; achieving focus is very important to me in an environment where one gets constant notifications and disruptions. It is also necessary to create boundaries between your work and family life to avoid potential burnout.

What advice can you give to people who want to start a business and look for appropriate co-founders?

Having motivated professional people is essential, but as you spend most of your time with them, try to find people you enjoy working with and complement your skillset. Sharing the same work ethic is necessary too. They need to be willing to spend their time and money and be passionate about what they are doing. That is how we started Oivan [IWA] back in 2009, and that’s something we still apply in our recruitment process; no one is hired without the team’s approval.

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