Sectos People & Culture Maaret Jokinen

People & Culture Director Maaret Jokinen: Secto lives out its mission through values-based leadership

Secto’s mission is to save driving by making it sustainable. To live out this mission, the company adheres to three core values, which are the cornerstones of Secto’s corporate culture: "Empathy is our superpower", "We are trailblazers", and "Sustainability is at the centre of everything". These values were defined by Secto’s top management team, including Maaret Jokinen, who leads Secto’s People & Culture. Maaret Jokinen joined Secto in the fall of 2023 as the People & Culture Director. “There aren’t many Finnish small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) with a people & culture director in the company’s top management team. My role shows how important values-based leadership is at Secto,” says Jokinen.

Secto has rapidly grown into a company of around 120 people, with many experts reaching leadership positions. As the company expanded, it became evident that Secto needed a clearer leadership structure and direction. Jokinen’s task was to develop a leadership model that aligned with the company culture. “You cannot build leadership and organisational culture without a solid foundation. First, you need to define the company culture and set goals for it. Your values serve as a cornerstone of company culture, influencing every aspect of the corporate culture. Your vision and mission must also be clear; without them, your employees won’t understand the company’s direction and goals. Equally important is your view of human nature: what you believe about people and how you treat them,” explains Jokinen.

"You cannot build leadership and organisational culture without a solid foundation”

Secto needed to clarify and explain its company values to ensure they could be effective tools for leadership. “It’s important to have a common understanding of our values; what we mean by empathy, trailblazing, and sustainability. If our values aren’t understood the same way, everyone can interpret them in their own way, which leads to confusion,” says Jokinen.

Clarifying the values also guided the process of defining what’s expected in management and leadership roles at Secto. “Secto now has a well-defined company culture, but we’re still in the early stages of living it out. We’ve discussed values extensively with both employees and the approximately 20 managers at Secto, and we conduct leadership training through one-on-one coaching and workshops. It’s important for managers to internalise our values as crucial tools for leadership; that’s the only way these values can manifest as concrete actions across the organisation,” says Jokinen. Jokinen explains that Secto sees the impact of values-based leadership when employees implement the company’s vision and mission by acting in accordance with the shared values. On the other hand, those not committed to the company’s values eventually seek opportunities elsewhere. “If employees act against the company’s values, we need to intervene. During the recruitment phase, we strongly emphasise our values and culture, ensuring the commitment of new employees from day one,” says Jokinen.

Employee surveys help develop corporate culture

Secto regularly monitors the implementation of initiatives that are meaningful to employees. The company openly discusses the results and informal feedback from the annual Siqni employee survey across different organisational levels. “We openly discuss the results both in teams and on an individual level. We want to understand our employees: what motivates them, where we succeed, and where we need to improve. With the feedback received, we continuously lead the employee experience and company culture towards improvement,” says Jokinen. According to Jokinen, managing company culture is an ongoing journey. Especially in a changing environment, culture must be managed and adapted at the same time. Decisions about changes to the company culture and values, however, can only be made by the company’s top management team. “Leaders must define the company’s values and direction, but should also listen to employees. A company succeeds only when its people know what’s expected of them, feel valued, and discover significance in their work,” explains Jokinen.

In 2023, Secto received the Future Workplaces certificate for the second time, which recognises exceptional management of company culture with a deep understanding of its employees. “This tells us we’re heading in the right direction and that we have a solid foundation to build an even more responsible workplace together,” summarises Jokinen.