Having ADHD means that adherence to strict timetables is imperative in a sales job. When you have a supportive and understanding team, you can do your job well and then reward yourself by jumping into ice cold water.
Career moves at own pace
‘What the hell am I doing here?’ Tiina Huovinen asks herself as she dips a toe into water that is only 2 degrees Celsius. She is dressed in a warm hat and a swimming costume. The weather in Vehkalahti, Joensuu, is mildly frosty.
‘Well, at least the water is warmer than the air,’ Tiina thinks to herself as she closes her eyes and plunges into the freezing cold lake. The chilly air takes her breath away, and her arms and legs feel like they are being pricked by a thousand pins and needles.
A few moments later, Tiina is sitting in a sauna and concludes that nothing can beat the euphoria of a cold-water swim. ‘Or perhaps when you are doing one hundred kilometers an hour down Ilomantsintie road on a motorbike, but that’s more of a summer thing,’ she muses and throws more water onto the hot stones.
Next to her in the sauna is a group from Joensuu’s winter swimming club, Jääkarhut – Polar bears, but she is not listening to their conversations, this is her own private moment of weightlessness, and has been for years.
The sauna is the only place where the 42-year-old Key Account Manager does not need anything else to occupy her mind. Here, she can focus on the pleasant feeling of a dopamine rush.
Tiina has been diagnosed with ADHD, and sensory seeking behavior is one of the common symptoms. Strong sensory input gets the adrenalin flowing and clears the mind. In Tiina’s case, her ADHD means that she prefers to have something to do all the time. Otherwise, her mind becomes cluttered.
While in many jobs this would pose a problem, as Siili Solutions (previously Haallas*) Key Account Manager, Tiina has landed in a position that offers her the right amount of stimulation.
‘In a large IT company, there is rarely a quiet moment. There are always projects to complete, quotes to send, and deadlines to meet, which suits me perfectly,’ Tiina says.
Tight schedules keep things on track
As Key Account Manager, Tiina is responsible for making sure that Siili Solutions’ client projects run smoothly. This requires exact information about the roles of each client team, the projects currently under way, and their initial quotes.
Tiina is a member of Siili Solutions’ public sector sales team. While the project-specific teams vary from client to client, the work community is close-knit, which is important for Tiina.
In her previous role as a Sales Support Specialist, Tiina worked as a team with a colleague. In her new position as Key Account Manager, she has become more independent. While her new role entails more responsibility, quotes, for example, are still a shared responsibility.
Tiina sets herself tight personal schedules, which allows her to check everything is in order well before a deadline.
’I enjoy having things under control and making sure everything is running smoothly. As I get older, I’ve also learned to accept that I can’t necessarily control everything.’
Coffee and conversations about the multiverse
In her spare time, Tiina listens to audiobooks practically non-stop. She has one playing in the background while she’s working out at the gym, picking mushrooms, or doing cross-stitching, and even during the fifteen-minute bike-ride to work. For safety reasons, she only wears one earbud while cycling.
Many of her colleagues share her enthusiasm for audiobooks and podcasts, and they frequently exchange tips about interesting books with each other. From different people, she receives recommendations about books she would not otherwise come by. She also enjoys discussing audiobooks with others at work.
Being able to talk about topics other than work with her colleagues is important for Tiina. Their break room conversations concern everything between heaven and earth.
‘We talk about a variety of things, such as forestry, genealogy, and Karelian culture. I love it when we really delve deep into a topic.’
Even though the people who work at the office are all quite different, many join in the conversations with Tiina about things like the multiverse, and soon a whole new world has been created in the break room.
Her colleagues are, in fact, a significant reason why Tiina initially applied for a job at Siili Solutions. She happened to know several people who were working at the company at the time.
‘I used to read their social media posts about their work and thought to myself that I would like to be in a community like that too. I felt very privileged to be accepted.’
Before she graduated with a Bachelor of Business Administration in International Business, Tiina had worked in a variety of jobs, including as a cleaner, an assistant, and a secretary in a building maintenance company. Even then she had always dreamed of working in the technology sector. When a vacancy for a Sales Support Specialist became available at Haallas, Tiina applied and was hired.
About a year ago, Tiina became a Key Account Manager. She sees this as a natural extension of her previous role.
’I enjoy working in a client-facing role. It’s important for me that our clients see us as a good partner, and, on the other hand, that everyone on our team finds their own work meaningful.’
While Tiina’s duties have changed and the company’s organization has been restructured, her work community has remained very much the same. This is important for Tiina, who regards her colleagues as a key element in her well-being at work.
Bags of compost
Tiina’s ADHD can cause sensory overload, and after a day at work she tends to feel too tired to see other people outside her family. In order to wind down, her family understands that she must be allowed to potter about the house on her own. Once she has recharged her batteries, the family can spend time together, such as at their summer house.
‘The children are already at an age where they have their own interests, but they still like when we go to the summer house together. There are plenty of things to do there for everyone.’
When she’s at her cottage in the countryside, Tiina spends her time enjoying nature and working outdoors. When she’s at home, pottering around in her garden takes her mind off other things.
In addition to this, Tiina is a gym enthusiast who has for years worked out three times a week. This helps with gardening – and everything else. Her sedentary office job requires a counterbalance.
‘I’m also interested in powerlifting. I want to be strong and gardening takes a surprising amount of muscle,’ she says with a laugh.
Skulls and a skeleton called Hermanni
Both her family and her colleagues know that when Tiina gets going she gets things done. She will repaint her kitchen cupboards or rearrange her furniture at the drop of a hat. Fortunately, Tiina and her husband are on the same wavelength in many ways – including their taste in home decoration.
Tiina has had the opportunity to try her hand at interior design at the office as well. For example, the Siili office in Joensuu was painted, at her suggestion, with gaming console themes in mind, and now the office features Nintendo, Amica, and Commodore 64-themed rooms.
Tiina doesn’t care for the traditional Scandinavian style at home, either.
’I could never go for those modestly geometric and lightly colored things,’ Tiina says.
Instead, her hallway is green and her kitchen cupboards black. She has opted for wavy, ornamental Chippendale furniture. Only her sofas are standard Ikea issue, and only because they are easy to move aside for her husband’s band practice sessions. A drum set is a permanent feature of their living room decor.
The sofa is also where Hermanni lives. Hermanni, Tiina points out, is a plastic skeleton who was originally bought as a Halloween decoration but ended up joining the family for good.
’Our whole family fell in love with this sympathetic skeleton. He’s our family mascot,’ Tiina says.
Something about the Gothic aesthetic fascinates Tiina. In addition to her home decorations and clothing, her tastes are reflected in her crafts projects.
’When I tell my colleagues that I do cross-stitching, they assume, quite correctly, that I don’t go for traditional motifs,’ she says and laughs.
Indeed, instead of flowers, her cross-stitching projects often feature, for example, skulls. Tiina finds them beautiful.
When she’s stitching, one of the family cats will usually keep her company. Pirkko and Marjatta are both rescue cats. Pirkko has lived with the family for thirteen years and Marjatta for four years. With a cat under one arm and a crafts project under way, Tiina feels her mind settle down.
’There are few things as calming as a cat purring.’ The sound and vibration are completely unique.
Tiina is an animal lover. She has dreamed of keeping goats in her backyard. She finds them interesting and sympathetic.
’I grew up in the country, but I don’t think I’d make a good farmer,’ Tiina says.
Regular late fee payer
Tiina also loves music, especially hard rock. When she wants to relax, she listens to Lord of the Lost, Nightwish or – if she is feeling a bit livelier – Beast in Black, to name just a few.
‘Heavy music creates a nice sound barrier. I enjoy the feeling of a fast tempo filling my ears.’
Tiina does not go to gigs, even though Joensuu has plenty of culture on offer, including the rock club Kerubi and the Ilosaarirock festival in the summer.
‘Big crowds are not my thing. I prefer to consume culture by visiting an art museum and the library as a regular late fee payer. Thankfully, both the library and the art museum in Joensuu are fantastic.’
When it comes to social gatherings, Tiina mainly takes part in events organized with colleagues, and her favorites include evenings with wine and painting. Being surrounded by familiar people does not feel like being in a crowd.
‘It’s nice to do something completely different from work with your colleagues.’
The next steps
Although work is an important part of Tiina’s life, she does not want it to be the only thing that determines the course of her life.
‘I like to think that work should not cause you so much stress that it begins to have a negative impact on the rest of your life. It is important to find a balance.’
She believes that a career path can also run horizontally, not just vertically. Currently, she would like to develop her role according to her own strengths. All Account Managers do not have to fit one mold.
’I enjoy working with people and making sure that others have a good day at work. I would love to learn more about HR resourcing, for example,’ Tiina says.
So, what does an ideal day at work look like for Tiina?
’Everything runs smoothly, there is enough work to do, my coworkers are content, and there is enough dark humor floating about.’
*Siili Solutions acquired Haallas' business in October 2022. You can read more about it by following this link.
Text: Annika Lius
Images: Tuomas Kinnunen