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Our mission is to help you lead your brand and your culture in an innovative and sustainable way.
Co-Founders is run by us, two business leaders, Ia Adlercreutz and Max Mickelsson. We’ve lived through several organizational changes. We’ve had to lay people off as well as integrate whole new cultures into existing ones. On a daily level, we’ve led different teams consisting of many different nationalities. We’ve been part of both management teams and executive boards. We’ve seen successes and failures. We’ve both succeeded and failed as individuals.
After 20 years of experience in business we have created a framework that, we believe, can help leaders like ourselves to develop a company culture that is anchored in reality and has, at the same time, a powerful purpose that drives people to work every day. A meaning that allows the company to build a better tomorrow for us all.
Successful companies are distinctive, curious and resilient. They have a strong brand, a healthy company culture and a solid relationship with the surrounding world. These three domains can be explored and developed simultaneously only if the top management is fully on board and ready to roll up their sleeves. There are no short cuts ahead but hard work and tricky questions. We will make the trip rewarding.
Lastly, the world is changing in a fundamental way. From a linear economy we move towards a circular one. The human-centric approach is no longer valid. Companies need to think broader. This is why we base our work on a method we call LIFE-CENTRIC® leadership.
Ia has a passion for creating distinction. She has almost two decades of experience in branding, business development and design management. In recent years, she has held top management positions in renowned consumer goods companies such as Kekkilä, Hasselfors Garden and Fiskars. Today she is a board member in several B2B and B2C companies.
Throughout her career, Ia has regularly managed to unleash the true potential of brands. She’s mastered a very special way of turning strategy into reality by conducting open-minded exploration and experimentation.
At Kekkilä, Ia was responsible for the company’s brand and marketing through a period of growth in both brand awareness and value, while at the same time spearheading its expansion into new business areas. Her work turned a soil-producer into a player in the lifestyle field.
At Fiskars, Ia played a significant role in transforming a kitchenware company into a fresh player. She led the creation of a new brand look and feel, the redesign of almost 100 SKUs and the development of innovative go-to market concepts, resulting in measurable commercial success.
Ia founded Co-founders in 2016 when she realized that she and her team could help many mid-size companies take their brand and culture management to the next level.
When not helping companies reach their true potential, Ia can be found canoeing around the archipelago or writing poems in her red notebook. There is a page in it for your company, too.
Max Mickelsson has spent the last fourteen years combining his passions for politics, technology and business to promote positive change. In his previous role as a Director for Government Affairs at Microsoft, he helped shape programs that have created bold opportunities for both individuals and for Finland as a whole.
Before his career at Microsoft, he held various positions in politics advising the Minister of Finance, Minister of Labour, Minister of the Interior and the Speaker of the Parliament as well as Secretary General for the Parliamentary Group of the National Coalition party. He has also had positions of trust in many NGOs and is currently the Chairman of Junior Achievement – Nuori Yrittäjyys – in Finland.
Thanks to his career dedicated to understanding and communicating the complex, he believes Artificial Intelligence will revolutionize company culture in ways we’re just beginning to grasp. When not studying the intricacies of corporate life, he’s a keen contemporary art lover who relishes the chance to meet artists worldwide.
Minna is a former journalist, researcher, business developer and a senior advisor in stakeholder relations. Before joining Co-founders she nurtured partnerships in a scale-up energy company. Gathering, analyzing and popularizing information is what makes her tick.
Minna’s education is Doctor of Theology, with main subjects theological ethics and philosophy of religion. In her doctoral thesis she examines the role of life views in environmental conflicts. Insights she gained during research have been tested and processed further in many different business development roles she has since then held in energy sector.
Minna embraces new contexts and subject matters. Recently she has led development of a home automation service and building a software development environment in cloud. In technology development, Minna is especially interested in ethics: environmental and social impacts of new technologies and services that they enable.
Minna is very passionate about her work. It is thus no surprise, that you more often than not can find her reading with her nose in a book during her sparetime. The researcher in her finds balance in life by biking and working out whenever possible.
Ponniah has almost 20 years management consulting experience. He has worked years for a number of industry leading players including Accenture, Ernst & Young and Oliver Wyman.
Ponniah’s experience is diverse and wide ranging. He has worked across a number of European and International markets. His extensive experience of various projects cover a large number of topics including strategy formulation, M&A management, operating model transformation, change management, IT strategy, commercial optimisation, new business start-ups etc.
Ponniah focuses on bringing structure and a methodological approach to challenges that our clients ask us to address. He considers the trusted advisor role that he fills for our clients as a position of genuine privilege.
You are likely to find Ponniah doing sports after work. His true passion is cricket.
Alexandra has ten years of experience in communications and consulting in several industries including art, publishing, financial markets, consumer electronics, food packaging, steel industry and maritime technology.
Alexandra holds a Master’s degree in Business Management and a Bachelor’s in Communications and Public Relations. Her career journey spans across different countries from Romania to Spain, Belgium and Finland.
Before joining Co-founders Alexandra worked as a senior consultant and account director at Miltton. Previous to this position she established HKI Art Communications, a Helsinki-based company with the mission to promote access to arts and culture to both local and international audiences.
Alexandra has a thorough understanding of arts and business. While both can exist without the other, she believes that the thriving businesses of the future will employ art as a method to solve business challenges.
She describes herself as a facilitator, a role that comes to her naturally given her cross-disciplinary experience and multi-cultural background.
When not defining the sweet spot between arts and business, Alexandra can be found walking long routes along the Helsinki shoreline, listening to music and visiting exhibitions.
Axel believes software development offers the best medium for bringing ideas to life. He is currently honing his software development skills further at Hive Helsinki while at the same time completing his studies at the Hanken School of Economics.
As many applications are moving to web-based solutions, Axel at the moment focuses on deepening his knowledge of full-stack development. He has among other things developed and deployed a resource sharing platform that serves the students at Hive, encouraging the sharing of information.
Axel also believes machine learning provides some of the most powerful tools in a developer’s toolbelt. The possibilities this opens up for us is, in his opinion, truly mind-blowing.
And as always, when the passion is deep ant thorough – in his spare time Axel is likely hacking away at a personal passion project. His goal is to get to the point where what he can create is not limited by any technical knowledge.
Lila is the youngest member of our team, but she has already honed her skills in France, Finland and China. Her fascination with inter-cultural communication has lead to her learning multiple languages in order to understand and reach people in today’s global context.
Having lived most of her life in Southern France, Lila left her family at the age of fifteen for Etelä-Tapiolan high school in Espoo. There, she received an International Baccalaureate with a specialization in Business and Management. Taking the challenge further, she took a plane and spent a semester in Shanghai, learning about Chinese culture and language at SISU university. Her experience then continued in the UK as a student in Politics, Economics and Philosophy at the university of Warwick.
Lila is not only a globetrotter – while working as a community manager she acquired skills that now will benefit our customers. When Lila is not going through an “Italian for beginners” volume or spending her time packing her suitcase, she thoroughly enjoys the dramatic arts as well as skiing down the Alps. Her motto is that you can never learn enough.
We live in a volatile world. We need fresh perspectives to solve the challenges of tomorrow. We need brave thinking. This is why we established a program bringing together sharp young minds aged 18 to 30.
Our Lionheart Panel is ready to spar us and our clients whenever more insight is needed.