News & Views

Greetings from Alumni: Erkki Ikäheimo, Vice President, Design & Innovations and Legal Affairs at Lappset Group Oy

22 April 2021

This time around in our Greetings from Alumni series, we interviewed our alumnus Erkki Ikäheimo, who works as a vice president for Design & Innovations and Legal Affairs at Lappset Group Oy. Lappset is one of the leading manufacturers of playground, sport, and park equipment worldwide. During his time at Hannes Snellman, from 2005 to 2011, Erkki worked as a trainee, associate, and senior associate in our M&A Team.

Hi Erkki! How has the spring started off for you?

Spring has always been my absolute favourite time of the year with great outdoor opportunities in Lapland and the anticipation for golf courses opening in the south. Furthermore, since there has not been any travelling for work for a while now, quality time with the family has been maximised, which I am grateful for. After a challenging 2020, there now seems to be some positive signs in our business environment, which also brings a smile on my face.

Lappset “has inspired millions of people to play, exercise, and have fun all over the world since 1970”. Sounds like quite a fun place to work — can you tell us what your work as a vice president includes?

I love my job. The impact we have on people’s well-being all over the world is an endless source of inspiration and motivation for me. Seeing the joy and togetherness we enable in real life almost daily brings a sense of purpose to our work. After finishing my MBA in 2011, I have been privileged to get several leadership positions ranging from service business development to business unit profit and loss responsibility and now to leading our global design and innovations team. Group legal affairs have accompanied me in all these roles.

We have very experienced and talented people working in eight different countries who know their jobs best. My role is to show direction, keep up a positive energy, and make people shine. Working across borders with people from versatile backgrounds is very rewarding but requires constant development of communication and listening skills. One of the silver linings of the pandemic is that workplace equality among global colleagues has taken a giant leap forward while everyone works from home and knowledge transfers only through digital means. Clarity in roles, responsibilities, and processes has consequently become more important than ever. Speeding up our digital transformation process is a good example where showing direction and keeping up a positive energy are the cornerstones of success.

We are a family company, and I take a lot of pride in giving a face for ownership that transfers from one generation to another.

You have experience working in both a company and a law firm. What was the biggest change when you jumped from a law firm to your new in-house role?

The range of issues to be addressed in an in-house role can be much broader than in a specialist role in a law firm. During my time at Hannes, business understanding was already highly appreciated and emphasised. In an in-house role, having a comprehensive understanding of the commercial implications and risks of any given issue is the driver for value adding potential a lawyer can have. Legal is a support function subject to the same continuous improvement targets as any other function. Therefore, choosing the legal questions/areas with most value adding potential is essential.

However, the roles are ultimately very similar: a passionate and service-minded attitude towards seeking practical solutions is key in becoming a trusted advisor for your customers, whether internal or external.

During your time at Hannes, you worked as an associate and senior associate in our M&A Team. What were the most valuable learnings you took with you from your law firm career?

My professional identity and integrity were formed during my years at Hannes. Thanks to the high level of professionalism throughout the firm, I was able to develop my own work life skills and a healthy professional self-esteem. People are everything in all businesses, and at Hannes I, learned the importance of a well-functioning team and having fun at work. Every single individual in a team must be taken into consideration and treated with respect without forgetting humour. Long live the legendary Ryhmä 1!

What advice would you give to yourself on your first day of law school?

Get to know as many new people as possible and always say yes to opportunities that you face. You only learn through people and experiences. Ultimately, you may be able to pass on those learnings to other people.

Lappset’s business is closely linked to the health and well-being of people of all ages. How do you take care of your own well-being and work-life balance?

I have a special passion for racket sports, out of which golf is my top priority. And yes, it is possible to combine golf with a high-pace work and family life. There is no better way to start an early summer day than with a 6am stroll enjoying the beautiful landscape of Tali or Ounasvaara, for instance. Running is never out of fashion either, and at best, these two sports are combined into speed golf. For the upcoming summer, my goal is to finish a full round of golf in less than an hour.

Lastly, what would be your dream theme for a playground?

Well, I had to turn to my twin daughters for advice on this one. A treehouse with giraffes and singing elephants was their choice today. Singing elephants will require some extra effort from our innovations team, but I am sure this dream can also be materialised. 😉