Greetings from Alumni: Suvi Pokela, Founder of Alva Interiors
20 April 2022
This time around in our Greetings from Alumni series, we interviewed our alumna Suvi Pokela, who is the founder of Alva Interiors. During her time at Hannes between 2008 and 2016, Suvi worked as an HR Coordinator and HR, Learning and Development.
Hi Suvi! How are you and how has the year started for you?
Hi, good, nice to hear from you! The beginning of the year has been full of interesting work but also very shocking because of the world situation.
You are the founder of Alva Interiors. Can you tell us how you came up with your business idea and what kind of services Alva offers?
Alva offers interior design for private homes, cooperating closely with contractors, carpenters, and other professionals and companies in the industry. It seems in the middle of chaotic and uncertain times, we long for functionality, joy, and comfort in our homes.
Before establishing Alva, you worked, among other things, in Hannes Snellman’s HR Team for eight years. Has your previous career at a law firm helped you in your current business?
Absolutely. I think working at Hannes would be a great experience for any job. Interior design is a people business. The end result is a functional and beautiful space but the design process itself is largely about customer service, problem solving, and project management.
There seems to be quite a difference between the work of an HR professional and running your own interior design firm. Can you share the story behind this career move?
I started Alva when my younger son was a toddler and the pandemic had just begun. Our family had been living abroad and I had had a chance to study something new to keep myself busy (at the time, I thought a baby wasn’t enough “action”, which was not the case, of course). I had a good network in the field, and then when the pandemic made people spend more time in their homes, things led to starting Alva!
I like both the creative and the meticulous part of the design process. Designing private homes and not public spaces also requires a certain kind of discretion. So despite the different context, I think I still use the same qualities as in HR, and my background probably affects how I work as a designer. A fun fact is that I have had several HR managers as customers.
What was the best thing about working at Hannes, and what is the best thing about running your own firm?
The people of course, I think very warmly of my time there and colleagues. I always found it inspiring to work with the people at Hannes, proud of their profession and still humble and nice. Another thing is the support functions. I wish I had such a great team helping me now that I carry all the IT, marketing, communications, finance etc. responsibilities myself! The best thing about entrepreneurship is the freedom and endless opportunities to develop.
One theme that currently stands out in working life discussions is purpose at work. To conclude this interview, we would like to ask what the things are that keep you going and motivated in work — what is your purpose?
I find it easier to think about purpose in a wider context. As an interior designer and entrepreneur, I can do what I like the way I like it, which is very fulfilling. But more importantly, it enables me to organise life in a way that works best for me and my family at this moment.
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