Career Stories | Maria Wasastjerna, Partner, Competition & Regulatory
28 November 2022
Hannes Snellman’s Partner Maria Wasastjerna has been named as the Attorney of the Year 2022. Maria co-heads our Competition and Regulatory Practice and has a versatile international career path including leading in-house counsel roles, completing an LL.D., writing articles, and publishing a book, as well as hosting a podcast. Let’s see how Maria describes her career so far.
1. You graduated from the University of Helsinki’s Faculty of Law in 2006, and now you are a partner at Hannes. What happened in between?
Quite a lot. The last 15+ years include working as an inhouse counsel in large corporations, in an adtech start-up, training with the EU and US regulators, and studying abroad. I feel fortunate to have seen a wide range of different industries and operating environments thereby getting exposure to various contexts and situations. While working in the tech sector, I became interested in the digital transformation, and I published a book on digital competition after completing my LL.D. More recently I have keenly followed the developments around corporate responsibility and ESG.
Some years back, together with a friend I co-founded Leadcast, a business podcast addressing leadership and career-related topics. It is a great — and fun — way to learn about new things and to get the privilege to discuss with inspiring guests about different topics, such as entrepreneurship, board work, diversity, and sustainability.
2. Tell us a little bit more about your experiences abroad. What have been the greatest take-aways from those experiences?
Looking back, the greatest take-aways from my experiences abroad is the fact that they widened my perspectives and enriched me professionally and personally, also through lasting friendships and networks.
Upon graduation, I moved to Brussels to work at American law firm Cleary Gottlieb — a great first real job with colleagues from all over the world working together on interesting high-profile cases. I stayed in Belgium to train at the European Commission and to complete an LL.M in Bruges at College d’Europe. I have to say though that the oral exams held in French are not among my greatest take-aways. Later, I also spent a memorable year in the US studying at Georgetown and working at the US Federal Trade Commission’s Office of International Affairs.
3. You have an LL.D. from the University of Helsinki. What made you go for a doctoral degree?
It was my interest in the transition to data-driven markets and big tech’s implications for digital competition and privacy. While working at Nokia, I became intrigued about these emerging issues and decided to go for a doctorate. It was a rewarding experience leaving me with a broader understanding of not only the law as such but also exploring the historical, economic, political, and even philosophical context.
4. How do you balance your active professional life? Do you have any hobbies or other free time activities?
How do I balance my life? I guess like most other active professionals with toddlers or small children at home — it’s a constant juggling act! In addition to devoted family time, my hobbies include sports and seeing friends. I would love to read more books — I have a huge pile on my bedside table (currently used mostly by my children as building blocks).
5. One theme that currently stands out in working life discussions is that of purpose. To conclude this interview we would like to ask what are the things that keep you going and motivated in work — what is your purpose?
Making a difference — both big and small. By being able to inspire and be inspired, working with great people, and together solving challenges. And constantly learning new things.