Inspiration and Perspectives from Upea Ura – the Glorious Career Festival
Inspired, overwhelmed and exhausted, but happy. The mood among the organisers of Upea ura.
The first Upea ura – the Glorious Career Festival was held at the Korjaamo Culture Factory in Helsinki on 10 February 2017. With tickets fully-booked, 500 participants and some 400 followers online took part.
Conceived just six months ago, it was the culmination of the joint efforts by a group of volunteers from the Finnish women’s career network, Ompeluseura (“knitting society”). The vision: to inspire women in Finland in the transition of working life with encouragement and opportunities to develop their expertise in a world where the societal structures are still waiting for change.
The event was opened with a speech by President Tarja Halonen on equality and working life. A number of big companies and organisations – KONE, Tieto, Technology Industries of Finland, The Finnish Business School Graduates and Rud Pedersen – contributed by offering their expertise through interactive workshops and presentations.
The Career Stories of Superwomen, How to Lead Success, Daring a Glorious Career, How to Employ Yourself, and Creativity and Strategic Thinking – the five concurrent tracks of the day.
Women from diverse industries and backgrounds united by the desire to share their expertise and to encourage one another to succeed.
Together making a better and more equal working world
The spirit of the Ompeluseura network inspired me to get involved in this event: positive encouragement, openly sharing experiences, perspectives and career advice in a group of over 15 000 women – being a part of a community building a better and more equal working life.
An introvert and observer by nature, at Upea ura, the track “Daring a Glorious Career” particularly resonated with me when looking at topics to cover for the communications team.
Essentially this is what our event was about: encouragement and guidance to women on bringing out their best in their careers.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE DAY
”Enjoy each job you do and make it important”
Introductory words at Upea ura were given by – none else than the woman who broke all the glass ceilings, Finland’s first female President Tarja Halonen.
President Halonen encouraged the participants to take every opportunity seriously, to make whatever task we are given important, and to enjoy what we do.
”Everyone can make an impact in their own positions: do it in the same positive, encouraging way that can be felt here today,” Halonen continued and encouraged the idea of making the most of networks. The speech filled the room with emotion and ended in a standing ovation.
”Curiosity, open attitude, cooperation skills – important skills in today’s working life”
The Keynote speech given by Kaija Bridger, Head of Talent Management of KONE, the main cooperation partner of Upea ura, summed up different aspects of modern working life and gave advice on important elements for career advancement in today’s world.
Among the key points were the importance of cooperation, the ability to manage an increasingly flexible working life, and the ability to take ownership and to define borders.
Digitalisation brings its own challenges and opportunities. In the information age, curiosity, an open attitude to learning, the ability to find the right information and to summarise, are increasingly valuable traits.
”Praise one another and take credit when it’s due!”
Two colourful ladies, feminists Rosa Meriläinen, author and politician, and Saara Särmä, researcher of international politics and artist, took command of the stage, tongue in cheek, during their ”Daring workshop”, which drew attention towards the gendered structures within our society. For example, why is it often more difficult for women to complain about a bad customer experience or to ask for a raise when one is due?
They encouraged us to be confident, to command our space and to take credit for our skills and expertise. An excellent piece of practical advice was to aim to give specific praise to your colleagues as a way of highlighting their strengths and skills. Something we can all try to take on board to support positive encouragement in our work communities.
“Follow your inner voice, take a leap to the unknown!”
Anita Navaratnam, Managing Director, Sygeny Oy shared her stories of overcoming her fears and taking leaps to the unknown.
Anita’s journey took her from Malaysia to study in the United States, back to Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia and later to Finland, where she has now lived for nearly twenty years. As a fifth generation Indian-Malaysian, growing up in Penang, her curiosity about the wider world led her to seek adventure and learning. Throughout life, she has followed her inner voice; persuading her parents to send her to study in the United States, choosing to study Economics over of Medicine, and moving to Finland. Most recently she took the mother of leaps setting up a company and starting from scratch in a new industry, health data analytics. Overcoming the different experiences and struggles have made her stronger and led her onto the right path.
In the end, we discussed achievements, the frame of mind and sources of fear. Success and achievement are preceded by a conscious effort towards a goal while at the same time, fear of the unknown and letting go of one’s comfort zone.
New connections, perspectives and inspiration
Upea ura left me inspired and encouraged with the opportunity to be a part of a positive community with a common goal, together with many skilled and intelligent women. The experience has also been a great way to learn more about the Finnish labour market, of creating new connections, and gaining perspectives.
I admired the efficiency of the organisation of this event, its organic nature and the impressive results from combining the forces of a group of talented volunteers.
I am grateful for having been a part of the experience. Warm thanks to the entire Upea ura – community!
Satu Spratley / member of Upea ura Communications team
Check #Upeaura for discussions in the social media, trending on the day particularly on Twitter.