ArticleNovember 16, 2023 · 5 min read time
An Assembly event awarded programmer turned his hobby into a profession, leading to a journey of over 25 years in the IT industry. Olli Auvinen, a founder and CEO of the digital engineering firm Nitor, gets excited about teamwork and building new things – and enjoys the sustainable work pace that leaves room for family life and stroller walks.
Olli, you are one of the founders at Nitor and have been with us for over 16 years. Tell us how you became a digital engineer.
My story is quite common among Finnish technical professionals: I started coding as a hobby when I was younger. That path captured my interest, and now, I have been working in the IT industry for over 25 years.
My background is in technical and commercial fields, and before Nitor, I worked in software development, product management, and sales. However, I had been contemplating entrepreneurship for quite some time. Eventually, we founded Nitor with a group of acquaintances while I was studying marketing, entrepreneurship, and finance at a business school. I graduated during Nitor’s second year of operation.
So, we were the first Nitorean digital engineers. From the very beginning, the company embodied many values that still define us today. For instance, strong support for professional growth and emphasis on sustainable software development have been our principles since the founding year. Right from the start, we wanted to create the best possible workplace for ourselves and, eventually, for others.
An interesting story and certainly quite a journey to this day! How your work at Nitor has evolved over the years?
Indeed, over time, a wide range of developments have occurred both in my own work and in Nitor's business operations.
In the early days, we thought our core business would consist of architecture reviews and advisory services. Coding was supposed to be just one part of our offering. However, the demand for software development grew rapidly, and it continues to be one of our most sought-after services still today. Later on, market developments introduced new major focuses, including service design, usability design, data analytics, operational model development, and round-the-clock support services.
As the company evolved, my own responsibilities also changed significantly. Initially, I did consulting, managed customer relationships, and participated closely in sales. As Nitor grew, I also contributed to marketing, finance, and developing our culture. In 2020, I stepped into the CEO’s shoes from the position of Chief Operating Officer.
You’ve been working as a CEO for several years. What does Olli Auvinen's week look like as a digital engineer in Nitor?
Heh, things are quite different than just a moment ago. With Nitor's growth, we have been actively developing and introducing new responsibility roles into our organization, thus my duties have changed. For example, I was long responsible for financial matters, but we hired a lead for that about a year ago. Over time, we have also increased the size of our marketing team.
I have many strategic development projects on my desk, and I collaborate closely with our board. As CEO, I work extensively on people-related matters: addressing the needs raised by Nitoreans and collaborating with our People Ops team. I also participate in internal communications.
Entrepreneurship has always excited me with the idea of utilizing my expertise in developing the company and building growth. As the CEO, these themes are still an essential part of my work. For instance, I still participate in developing our sales and support the growth of our office in Sweden from behind the scenes.
Quite varied tasks indeed! What does the core of being a Nitorean digital engineer mean to you, and how is it reflected in your work?
A digital engineer is an ambitious professional who desires to develop their expertise and do high-quality work together with others. Perseverance, customer orientation, and a willingness to build long-term partnership relationships instead of focusing on individual projects are also characteristics that unite Nitoreans. A digital engineer must possess a real interest in assisting clients and successfully solving their problems. This approach makes us genuinely proud of our own work and our colleagues.
In my own work, I have a visible strive for the highest quality outcome in practically every matter. I also favor collaborative work and learning together. At Nitor, no one is left alone; there is always support available for even the trickiest challenges. Knowledge-sharing and a curiosity for learning new things are very characteristic traits among Nitoreans.
It sounds like you still enjoy your job like in 2007. What’s the best part?
The absolute number one has to be our team! It’s fantastic to engage with Nitoreans at various events, and for instance, the company-wide monthly meeting is always a highlight I eagerly anticipate. At our summer party, it has been a tradition to reward several individuals for their successes during the year. Receiving acknowledgment from a colleague is a big deal, and it's delightful to witness such recognition.
I get excited about acquiring new clients and entering new markets, as these initiatives drive Nitor forward towards growth. Additionally, personal successes in my job mean a lot, whether it’s a rewarded customer success story or recognition for the attractiveness of our employer brand. Winning important awards underline our success and, in a way, certify the work we've done.
Looking forward to the next company event! Maintaining a sustainable work pace has been a thesis at Nitor for over 16 years. How do you balance work and everyday life yourself?
In my free time, I like to engage in various physical activities to maintain my energy and well-being. I used to do a lot of jogging and playing basketball, and I also swim and cycle. Finding time has occasionally been a bit challenging as new types of hobbies, like baby swimming and stroller walks, have crept into my daily life. Also, parental leave is a crucial component of maintaining a sustainable work pace.
I try to visit my hometown Savonlinna now and then to see family members and relatives. I also spend time at our summer cottage located on the shores of Lake Saimaa. I also follow sports to some extent, listen to music, and meet up with friends.
In this campaign, we’ll introduce Nitoreans in different roles. Every Nitorean is a Digital Engineer: a pragmatic and solution-oriented helper who doesn’t settle for assumptions. Instead, they take one step further to seek the right questions and even better answers.