Fostering learning and growth through mentoring

Two people having a meeting
Johanna Saarinen
Johanna Saarinen
Director, Talent Management
Innovations and Inspirations
Working at Vaisala

As global challenges grow increasingly complex, the success of our solutions lies in the strength of our learning agility and knowledge networks. Now more than ever, we need collaborative partners, mentors, who challenge and complement our thinking, transforming initial sparks into brave decisions or groundbreaking innovations.

Personal and professional development through mentoring

Mentors are like trusted sounding boards in the journey of our careers, offering valuable insights and new perspectives. Building self-awareness through reflection of our own strengths or blind spots enables us to make informed decisions and build confidence in our own abilities. Along my career, I myself have also had a mentor to turn to. We’ve sometimes met more regularly, but nowadays reunite occasionally, when a new challenge, thought or idea might call for a sparring partner.

At Vaisala, we use mentoring to encourage organizational collaboration and idea exchange, to bridge the gap between varied backgrounds and expertise. For us, mentoring isn’t just about providing guidance – it’s a process that challenges our preconceptions and propels us into new territories with renewed confidence. We encourage our people to seek for a mentor, though participation is always voluntary. The benefits of mentoring actualize when there is a proper plan. The mentee is always in the driver’s seat, proactive and responsible for preparing an agenda for each meeting. The goals for mentoring need to be clear: I think potential disappointments can be avoided and trust can be built, when the ground rules have been discussed, expectations have been shared, and both parties are truly committed to learning. Since trust and openness are the key here, our mentees get to choose their mentors by themselves.

Broader ecosystem of knowledge-sharing

As diverse perspectives are what keep us agile, we’ve also flipped the traditional mentor-mentee dynamic around to utilize reverse mentoring: Our leadership team will have younger, less-experienced talent as their mentors, sharing fresh ideas, emerging trends, and expectations of the younger generations. In exchange, our younger talent gets an opportunity to voice their thoughts and contribute to organizational development.

The wider the range of perspectives, the more holistic and sustainable our solutions become. That’s why we also don’t limit our mentoring programs to internal relationships but participate in cross-company network mentoring, aiming to break down organizational silos, fostering a broader ecosystem of knowledge-sharing and innovation.

One of the best learning methods

Personally, I consider mentoring as one of the best learning methods. In the role of a mentee, I have learned more than in any training, being able to discuss and solve challenging and interesting topics. As a mentor, my learnings have been as big, if not even bigger: I have gotten to know many great people from various backgrounds over the years, supported them in different stages of career, and discussed big and small topics, enjoying every single meeting.

In the world where change is the only constant, our collective openness, knowledge sharing, and collaboration become the way to not just cope, but excel. Talking and listening to each other, over organizational, generational, and cultural boundaries, is what will keep us thriving.

Johanna Saarinen

Johanna Saarinen

Director, Talent Management

Johanna Saarinen is the Director of Talent Management at Vaisala. Over the years, Johanna’s career has spanned across various industries, including life science, high-tech, and IT.

Her professional journey has been marked by expertise in talent management, cultural transformations, leadership development and coaching. With a Ph.D. earned from Aalto University in 2016, Johanna specialized in virtual leadership through her doctoral thesis.