”The big-hearted fighter”

Hanna Lähdesmäki, Director of Digital Business Services at Telia in Finland

Hanna Lähdesmäki describes herself as a stubborn and demanding leader, yet a humble coach that stands by her teams in all situations. She is on a mission to expand the notion of our expertise to a new level. Together with her team of 120 people, she is working to develop our processes, using robot automatization, AI and other cutting-edge tools.

”Over the years, people have left the north of Finland to find opportunities in Helsinki or even abroad. I am here to change that trend. My mission is to share our experience and knowledge to attract more people to find opportunities with us. And help us have a positive impact on the local society.”

New tech. New levels

“The innovations we are creating with AI and robot automatization will take both our own and our customers’ processes to the next level. We spend a lot of time trying to find ways to package our own know-how and develop it into new services. To be great at leading and inspire an innovation team, I felt that I first needed to grow myself and learn new things. Maybe not so much about technology, but about storytelling.”

Back to school

“So, two years ago I decided to complement my degree by getting an exam as a teacher. Basically, I went back to school to get a new set of tools to work with. And now I can support and communicate better with my team. I can coach and inspire grown-ups to study, learn and work at the same time. Using storytelling when explaining things have made me a better leader. Today, I am much better at using my own experiences and knowledge to inspire and coach my team.”

Driven by results

“I am a results-driven person and for me, setting clear targets is key to reaching our goals. Me and my team have well-defined common targets and KPIs, which we follow up together. I am a demanding leader, but my team always know that I am completely behind them and that I will work hard together with them to reach the targets. We are ambitious, and to deliver on our goals as a team. To do this, it is important to have fun at work and enjoy working together.”

Letting others shine

”I always let my team have all the glory. To some people this is awkward, they want the leader to be up there on the podium. But to me, it is perfectly normal.”

Humble, yet demanding

“I always try to create an environment where everyone feels safe and free to speak their minds. This is key for people to grow and to build great teams. And the result of people speaking up and sharing their thoughts is a creative atmosphere where lots of ideas flourish. It is wonderful to see people coming up with new concepts and then making them come to life together with their teammates. So, even if I am a demanding, target-oriented and KPI-driven person, I have a very humble approach to getting to the results.

Life outside work

At home, I have a young daughter. I took me and my husband a long time to finally become parents, and today I am very humbled by that experience too. It has given me a lot of perspective on what is most important in life. I am still demanding at work, but my daughter has made me an even more humble and reflective person than I was before.”

We live in exciting times. Everything changes fast and at Telia we are at the center of the digitalization that drives many parts of society’s transformation. In this fast-moving world, I wanted to be better at pedagogics and use storytelling in my leadership. In our projects, there is no room for misunderstandings. I also find that when I am clear and communicate an idea very strongly, it becomes like a leading start for people. And let’s face it, people only deliver on things that they truly get and understand, which meant that I needed to develop my skills in understanding how people are learning and how I can support that process. Those are the main reasons for going back to school to get a degree in teaching.

My key advice to other leaders

  1. Be humble
  2. Trust yourself
  3. Have fun


A second-cycle Polytechnic degree in Business and Administration and a degree in Teaching from Jyvaskyla University of Applied Sciences.

Life before Telia
I came to Telia when I was 23. Before that my life was all about studies and short-term jobs.

Life outside work
I spend most of my time with my family, enjoying the simple things in life.

I have a husband and a five-year-old superhero daughter.

Something you didn´t know about me
I am a bit of a mad gardener and I always find new things to grow around our house.