Head of Administration Paula Eriksson: ”you don’t have to know everything in advance; you can learn along the way” 

Paula Eriksson shares that she has actively avoided a career as a lawyer, but now she has ended up continuing the work of two lawyers as the Head of Administration at the Nessling Foundation. On the floorball court, Paula can take the ball from anyone if she wants.

Who is the Head of Administration Paula Eriksson? 

In my work, I am a kind of overseer. My range of tasks is diverse, but almost all of them share one common element. It is my responsibility to ensure that things are done accurately, in compliance with regulations, and on time.  

At the Nessling Foundation, the administration has been overseen by an Executive Director since its early days, a title that was changed to Head of Administration a few years ago. My two predecessors held slightly different titles and were trained lawyers. In 2022, we moved to a single executive model, and I began as the Head of Administration alongside the Science and Executive Director. Before that, I worked at the foundation with titles such as Office Manager and Administrative Secretary. My mother is a lawyer, and as children often do, I wanted to avoid my parents’ profession. Therefore, I have actively avoided a career as a lawyer, yet here I am continuing the work of my predecessors – two lawyers.  

Interestingly, while I was so busy avoiding my mother’s footsteps, I ended up following my father’s without realising it. I am trained in business and economics, and I can even call myself an economist, having a certificate tucked away in the back of a cupboard. However, I don’t see myself fitting into the stereotypical mold of a business school graduate, at least the one that was prevalent when I started my studies. When I joined the Nessling Foundation in 2017, I had been looking for new, more meaningful work for some time. I wanted to work for a greater purpose. 

How can the Head of Administration contribute to building an ecologically sustainable future? 

This might be basic practice for many, but I print double-sided – if I print at all. Primarily, I avoid unnecessary paper use. I also try to keep our digital archives organised and remove accumulated unnecessary files. Data has a significant carbon footprint too! 

Additionally, my role touches every aspect of the foundation’s operations, and the foundation wouldn’t run the same way without my contributions. Part of my job is to oversee our daily financial transactions to ensure our funds are used in the best possible way for our purpose – building an ecological future.  

Our office is now located at Puistokatu 4, which aims to normalise good living within the planet’s limits. Personally, I believe that a good life within the planet’s limits means living without haste. I recognise this as a privilege because many people cannot rearrange their life’s pace. A slower pace allows for slow travel – considering public transport over cars, making the journey an experience rather than just a necessary step before the destination. I think this approach allows for a life more aligned with one’s values.  

You started at the Nessling Foundation in 2017, making you the longest-serving employee. What has changed during that time? 

Wow, almost everything. If I think about what has remained the same since 2017, it’s our pension insurance company and our occupational health provider. For example, when I joined the foundation, our financial management wasn’t yet digitised; that happened in 2018. Since then, my colleagues have changed, our office location has changed, and many aspects of our operations have evolved. Many of these changes culminated in our move to the House of Science and Hope at Puistokatu 4. Instead of being a small office with a few people, we are now part of a large community.  

What did you want to be when you grew up, and did it come true? 

As a child, my favorite TV series was the historical drama “Hovimäki,” which follows the lives of a noble family, and it made me want to become a manor owner. In a way, I’ve come quite close to that dream now that the Nessling Foundation’s office is in a beautiful house originally built in the late 1800s. I also get to “play manor owner” at home, having moved a few years ago into a single-family home built in the 1930s. The best part is our yard, with its garden plantings as old as the house and very productive apple trees. 

We have eight apple trees in our yard. The yard is quite park-like, with trees mostly older than the house. The crowning jewel of the yard is an ancient spruce tree, whose lower branches form a spruce hut and whose size rivals the annual Christmas tree at Turku Cathedral. My favorite sight is the massive rhododendrons growing under our terrace. There’s also some bedrock in that spot, with various wild plants growing on it.  

What else do you do in your free time besides managing your property? 

I play floorball! There isn’t any particular reason why I enjoy floorball other than the fact that I’m quite good at it. The pandemic and my pregnancy forced a break from my hobby, but now I’ve returned to my amateur team. We don’t play in matches; we only train among ourselves. My fitness and the precision that comes from regular practice declined significantly during the break, but upon returning to the court, I found that I had developed “mom reflexes” to compensate. I’m now super fast and can take the ball from anyone if I want to.  

What is the best part about working at the Nessling Foundation? 

We have a very safe and trusting atmosphere within our team. It’s important that emotions are given space at work too. We understand the value of soft skills and that a person is more than just a machine, and that employees have lives outside of work. This approach takes us very far. 

My long-term predecessor, Jarmo Hirvonen, left big shoes to fill, but I want to thank him for his trust and for advocating for a long time that I would become his successor. He believed in me and my abilities before I did. I have learned that you don’t have to know everything in advance; you can learn along the way.