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The objective of the Leader360 program started by Firstbeat, KiHu and Business Jyväskylä is to create the best-run organizations in Finland. Both Howspace’s CEO Ilkka Mäkitalo and Harvia’s Marketing Director Päivi Juolahti expect the program to provide an opportunity for self-development with the support of experts and a peer group.

Leader360 is a wellbeing and performance pilot program where 9 leaders from different industries can learn and gain insights into improving their own and their organizations’ wellbeing and performance. The program is coached by a number of Finland’s best experts.

Even in your dream job, you must know how to set boundaries

Howspace CEO Ilkka Mäkitalo has been an entrepreneur for about 30 years. Mäkitalo was one of the founders of Humap in 1999, and later became CEO of Humap Software (now Howspace).

Currently, Howspace is growing and internationalizing at a rapid pace. The company has employees in 11 countries around the world.

– I’ve been dreaming of being where I am now all my life – at Howspace, I’m in my dream job. A big part of my job is building a new organization. With so much enthusiasm and curiosity about your work, it’s sometimes hard to limit what you do. Something interesting is happening somewhere all the time, Mäkitalo reflects.

Ilkka Mäkitalo, CEO of Howspace.

He mentions humorously “sometimes fighting against being sucked into work”.

– I am proud of the work we are doing. But when you are already 57 years old, you have to start thinking about how to stay fit in the future. There’s nothing wrong with work being important, but there must also be room in life for important people. Whether I like it or not, I am also an example to our other employees, he points out.

– Although you’ve been personally involved in pretty much everything in the beginning, it is important to be able to let go and give space to others – to invite them to flourish.

In addition to peer group discussions, Mäkitalo expects, for example, the opportunity to look at one’s own psychophysical wellbeing through measurements from the Leader360 program.

– In the past, I haven’t paid much attention to these things. I hope the program offers new and fresh perspectives and that I can boldly question the locks in my brain. I am currently using Firstbeat to monitor how changes during the working day, for example, affect recovery and sleep quality, he says.

“Sharing experiences in a peer group is important”

For Päivi Juolahti, Harvia’s marketing director, the development of wellbeing has become a central part of the significance of her work. Juolahti’s tasks have always included research, development of new businesses, and innovation.

– For example, while working at Fazer, I was founding Fazer Lab, where we focused on improving health and wellbeing through our own Fazer Brainhow program. We were looking for solutions to promote healthy eating and improve people’s cognitive performance, she says.

– My work on wellbeing at Harvia is a natural continuum. There is plenty of research data on the health benefits of the sauna. It’s great to develop this Finnish expertise and export it to the world, she says.

Harvia’s Marketing Director Päivi Juolahti.

Nearly two years of hybrid work have placed new demands on people’s personal wellbeing.

– Leaders should always take care of their own wellbeing first, so that they can then take care of others. That’s a fact, of course, but in everyday life you often need to remind yourself to do so, Juolahti says.

From the Leader360 program, she expects peer discussions and the opportunity to get expert guidance on how to interpret health data.

– Everyday life is very hectic, so I think the program will give us a chance to stop for a moment to think about where you are from the perspective of both my own wellbeing and the leadership role, she says.

– Networking and sharing experiences in a peer group are an important part of learning to think holistically. I hope I will get new ideas and practical tips on how others improve their recovery and how they balance work and leisure.

The first Firstbeat measurements have already provided new insights.

– There are interesting things that you may not notice, but an expert who looks at the data objectively can see them immediately. I think I will get a lot of good tips for my own endurance and recovery from the measurements.

The program is part of Jyväskylä’s sports, health promotion and wellbeing ecosystem. Jyväskylä is a city of human growth that is involved in creating the Nordic HHub ecosystem. HHub focuses on resolving issues related to the wellbeing and health of people and communities with the best experts and companies in the field and promotes mobility as a lifestyle. The goal is to generate innovations, growth businesses, and create positive effects on people’s wellbeing.

The program is implemented by HHUB / Business Jyväskylä , Firstbeat Technologies Oy and SRD Oy / KIHU .