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Meet Riikka-Maria Lemminki, Managing Director of Mainostajien Liitto
I was born and raised in… Lahti, Southern Finland. My father worked in international business so there were always business people from every corner of the world visiting our home and I also had many opportunities to travel growing up.
I have always been interested in marketing and I dreamed of becoming a creative director at a very young age. When I was 12 years old, I sent my first job application to a local advertising company. Surprisingly the CEO personally responded to my application and said that I was not ready yet and I that had to start writing more.
I studied… French culture and literature at the University of Nice Sophia Antipolis in France but soon realised that my main passion was art. I then studied art in Finland and after graduating, I worked as an instructor at a children’s play centre before pursuing a degree in marketing in 1997 at Lahti University of Applied Sciences. While studying, I worked as Marketing Coordinator for a local direct marketing organisation and then as Marketing Manager for Finish manufacturing company ALLU Group. I created the company’s in-house marketing department that produced marketing services and materials for subsidiaries in five countries and resellers in 40 countries. I continued my studies at Lappeenranta University of Technology in knowledge management and later in environmental technology. In 2007, I became Partner for management consulting firm JM Tieto Oy (now Alma Talent CRM).
I started as CEO of the Association of Finnish Advertisers in September 2017. On the side, I am the owner of a 600m2 shop and café specialising in French products and a board member of several organisations, including WFA.
When I started in the marketing industry… at the end of 1997, only a few companies in Finland had a website. By the year 2000, almost every company had a website but only a few were doing email marketing. There have always been forerunners and those who resist change. The difference is that today change is not an option, it is a must if businesses want to survive and thrive.
My proudest career achievements… since becoming the CEO of the Association of Finnish Advertisers in 2017, include helping push for more balanced restrictions on alcohol marketing and point-of-sale in Finland and urging LinkedIn to keep Finnish-language advertising on the platform.
Our main priorities are… to continue to promote marketers’ interests, to equip our members with knowledge to navigate industry trends and challenges and to create more valuable partnerships. We have built all our new member services to support these three goals. During the last 12 months we have reworked our CRM and website, now with a web shop, e-learning tool, member portal and chatbot. We also recently launched our Talent Management programme that helps our members enhance their marketing skills and create their own learning paths, as well as a programmatic buying platform to help members ensure transparency and safeguard their online advertising investments.
A very specific challenge in the marketing industry in my country is… the culture of branding is rather new in Finland and CMOs still have difficulties justifying the importance of marketing to their CEOs. This is because Finland is a technology-driven country where most business leaders have a background in engineering. Finns are good at B2B marketing and digitisation but should develop skills in B2C marketing and branding. Most of our member companies operate in international markets and besides U.S. platforms, we are looking at marketing opportunities on Chinese platforms.
If I could change one thing about the industry today, it would be… the current lack of transparency. Transparency is key to building trust among the different parties. As an advertiser association, we equip marketers with knowledge and understanding to better navigate the current landscape but also encourage technology companies to provide more transparent solutions for the advertising ecosystem.
What most people don’t know about me… I love studying and sometimes spend hours at night reading through university periodical articles. I find it especially fascinating to read about new technological innovations that could dramatically change our lives.
Three things about my country…
- Finland is Europe’s rising star when it comes to economic and technological development.
- We have one of the world’s best education systems and we are encouraged to be innovative from a very young age.
- Our more than 100,000 lakes are a must-see at any time of the year.
This is part of a series of monthly interviews with heads of national advertiser associations in WFA membership.