“I’m happiest when I can help clients succeed, while simultaneously making an effort to build a more sustainable future” – Interview with Nea Raahenmaa
We sat down to chat about what inspired Nea Raahenmaa to join Foundry, how her first year on the team has been, and what’s in store for the future.
Challenge myself. Surround myself with the smartest people. Develop useful skills for my entire career path. These features were what Foundry Offering Development Lead Nea Raahenmaa has always wanted from her working environment. Even at the beginning of her studies, she had a clear idea of what she’d like to do in the future.
“I was drawn to studying business,” she thinks back. “I was considering medicine and law too, but ultimately it was finance that won me over.”
Nea is not afraid to take initiative and has a high-work ethic, as she has been working since she was 13. More recently, she has worked in growth equity funding and traditional corporate finance – being the first ever female investment banker at her previous firm. She was motivated to seek out more hands-on account management experience, and tasks related to sustainability, to make a meaningful impact on society through her work.
“Before Foundry, I worked for several years at a fintech company that arranges equity issuances for scalable tech startups in seed to growth stages,” she explains. “I was a Client Manager responsible for deal-flow and running the funding rounds of my clients. I earned a lot of valuable experience in account and project management, working on a daily basis together with Founders, CEOs, and Board Members.”
One of the greatest successes on the job that she recalls was the arrangement of a record-breaking equity round: it was oversubscribed in less than 30 hours, raising over €2m for a Finnish medtech company treating childhood leukemia patients with smart needles.
Disrupting industries with big industry leaders and startups
The Helsinki startup ecosystem is a tight-knit community; working with startups led Nea to run into Foundry already a while back. What made the Foundry team stand out for her were the impactful projects startups and large corporations set out to do together.
“When a job opportunity arose, I realized Foundry works on the impactful topics I had been thinking of,” she says. “I was intrigued by Foundry's unique positioning to disrupt industries via strategic business transformation initiatives, together with the big industry leaders and startups. I don't know anyone else in the Nordics doing it on the same level.”
Nea joined the team in Summer 2021 as a Venture Client Business Developer. This June, she was promoted to Offering Development Lead, taking responsibility for developing Foundry's offering for bringing the most value to our customers.
“It has been an incredibly interesting journey,” she says. “Diving into globally pressing topics, working with the hottest startups, and learning by doing. It’s been much more than I expected!”
Immersing in clients’ strategic priorities
With her background in finance, combined with vast work experience, Nea has developed a perfect skill set for her role in the Foundry team.
“In my role at Foundry, I have to become an expert in a niche topic, and fast,” she explains. “When diving into specific industry topics and identifying our corporate clients' strategic priorities, you find yourself immersed in battery electric vehicles or sustainable material science, talking with industry experts who have a Ph.D. on the subject.”
On a practical level, leading case teams and managing the venture client cycles has demanded strong communication and interpersonal skills as well as prioritization and time management skills, as most venture client opportunities are set up and launched in tandem. This has not been an issue for her: making decisions under pressure is second nature. It’s also what enables her to thrive in her strategic offering development role alongside client work.
Venture clienting opens doors for startups
One could say that growth equity funding and the venture client approach share plenty of goals. Both methods strive to help startups cross the death valley and become profitable companies, albeit with entirely different approaches.
“Venture clients are corporations that buy startups’ offerings at market price; it’s not investing. Essentially, they provide revenue and don’t take equity,” Nea says. “Moreover, the approach opens doors for startups and gets them a seat at desired tables with industry leaders.”
The hands-on nature of the approach is what drives her fascination with the work. Whether analyzing the market for machine vision solutions that can be applied to self-driving solutions or discussing novel sustainable material solutions for takeaway packaging on a polymer level, the most gratifying part of the job is definitely seeing a pilot project take off after only a few weeks of discussions.
"I’m happiest when I am able to help my clients to succeed and grow, while simultaneously making an effort for a more sustainable future,” Nea says.
Working with megatrends, the newest tech, and sustainability
Foundry has been alive and growing for four years now. To keep it up, Nea is in a pivotal position to develop the team’s offering to serve existing members even better and attract new ones at the same time. This work has only started but there are many exciting courses of action she has in mind to pursue.
“We’re looking to develop something completely new to support our core offering and bring new value to the Foundry companies,” she says. “Also, I’m taking a look at how to tackle our approach in China. Other global expansions are definitely on the table too!”
She is also involved with the ongoing and future venture client cycles by being in charge of collaboration with Stora Enso. She feels this is important for her new responsibilities too, in order to stay close to Foundry’s core offering and to keep developing herself further.
For any new team members looking to join Foundry, her message is simple:
“Anyone curious to work with megatrends, the newest technologies, and industry disruption, will love being here. Also, anyone for whom sustainability and making an impact are important, I invite you to check us out!”