Annette Kauppinen is the Chief Marketing Officer at Gold&Green Foods, a cross-cultural food tech company, selling and developing novel, delicious and sustainable plant protein foods.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Hi, I am Annette, CMO in Gold&Green Foods. My career has not been so planned, but things have just kind of happened and I have been offered many interesting roles. In the 90’s I was bringing digital advertising to Finland.
Then I learned that I had to embrace the new business just faster than others and spread the word and that has continued since then. In the 2000s, I transferred to the gaming industry and then I started to evangelise about in-game advertising. was one of the pioneers in Finland which was followed by a VP role in Habbo Hotel.
Later I was a part of the startup company building a company called Space Nation, which was a global astronaut training program, where anyone in the world can train to become an astronaut through their smartphones. And it led me to be part of the revolutionary food tech company, where we have been changing the world one meal at a time by using Pulled Oats – a plant based protein for more sustainable eating habits.
I am also the founder of the company called CarbonToSoil and it works as a digital platform, connecting companies and individuals who need to compensate their carbon footprint with farmers that are willing to capture more carbon to the soil with regenerative farming methods. My mantra in this company is “why should we just reduce the future impact of climate change when we can reverse it?
What is a common factor in all of these is the phenomenon of building. I have been working passionately for each project believing that there is a better future ahead of us. I didn’t realise that I was actually shifting for more impactful roles while I was learning more about climate change, it happened more naturally. I have always been interested in change and what are the tools to create change in a positive way.
2) What does a day in your life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I always wake up at seven o’clock. I have 2 teen daughters and we eat a quick breakfast together. I start my work often with a meeting with my Australian partners due to the time difference.
Today our meeting started at 7:45 and we discussed our PR plan. After the meeting I will go out for a walk to the forest with my 8 months old puppy Elvis for an hour. He is a mixture of Australian Shepherd and poodle, a very lovely and happy dog.
At ten o’clock I had a meeting with my web agency. We are planning a new website. We studied the analytics together and reviewed mockups and planned the content. At mid-day I had a quick lunch.
Today it was left over from yesterday’s dinner which was Pulled Oats Lasagna and I just heated it up. After lunch I had time to go through my emails and answer the phone calls I missed earlier in the day.
At 3 o’clock I had a 30 min OnetoOne with my communications Manager where we reviewed her overall situation. How she is feeling at work and outside of work, how she would like to improve things – we always follow a certain list of questions to give a frame to our discussion, but the discussion tends to jump to the other issues.
We have these 30 min calls once a month with each team member. 3:30 I start to prepare for a 4 pm meeting with my US PR agency, as they are awake. We are working on a long article for US btob magazine called Food Processing and I wanted to read it carefully to check if I have some edit suggestions.
Our meeting memo is also very long, and we have to squeeze everything in for an hour. I normally finish working at five a clock. We had a quick dinner and then I started my second shift as a “uber driver” as my daughters call me.
I took my daughter to her dressage (horse riding) stalls, drove home, and took the other daughter to volleyball training. Then home and dog out and same driving backwards. I do check my emails quickly in the evenings when I am waiting for girls in a car park. We are home after 9 o’clock and eat something small and go to bed by 10. I normally read before sleeping for around an hour.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Since COVID started 2 years ago I have been mainly working from home. I only realise now how convenient it has been! I save time in the traffic, and I am much more efficient without office interruption.
In the beginning of remote working I had a short 10 min scrum with my team every morning to kick off the day, but now we are all so used to working like this, that we have the scrum in demand when a critical project is progressing, etc.
Now we are returning back to normal and to the office, but the new normal means that we are going to be in the office only 1-2 days per week.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
Work-life balance is very important to me nowadays. When I was younger and didn’t have a family, work was everything and we worked really long hours.
I remember so well when one of my team members became a mom and after she returned from maternity leave (which is one year long in Finland), she became a real master of time management and left every day the office at 4 o’clock and all work was done.
I was not sure how she managed and what to think about it. Since I have had kids, I started to search for a balance, and I value it very high. I think the results are more important than the hours and I require and offer certain flexibility in working hours. We have a saying: “responsibility creates freedom.”
In reality creating the work life balance means a lot of planning, scheduling and prioritising. In Finland most of the people have 4 weeks off during the summertime and one week off during the winter.
I also take some additional time off during the long weekends and value the holidays a lot. I know how much more focused I can work with a relaxed mind and body. I have been able to create the balance for work and family, but I am still struggling to find balance for family and myself.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life
I used to do Pilates regularly and after a few years break I started to do online classes because I don’t have time to go to the actual classes. It is so important, as it affects the deeper muscles and keeps my spine straight.
Our puppy also takes me to the forest twice a day and it is relaxing and good sports. I have started to sleep better. I am a bit of a dopamine junkie, and work has always pushed me to the limits.
Regular sports are essential for me to calm down. I also stopped totally using caffeine a year ago to support my sleep. No tea or coke or energy drinks, but I do still need a decaf in the morning to support the morning coffee habit. These are working well. Plant based diet is also good not only for me, but also for the planet.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I read many types of books, one of my recent favourites is Memory of Water by Emmi Itäranta
And Richard Powers’ The Overstory. When I visited Australia, I read Liane Moriarty’s The Husband’s Secret which I liked a lot and I already continued with her other books.
I also enjoy the podcast series Plant Proof by Simon Hill. He understands the nutrition played in nourishing the body and preventing disease. He has a wide and holistic approach treating a body and mind as whole and he gives a lot of tools to eat more plant-based food.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I love my OURA ring! The Finnish innovation is a tiny titanium ring (device) that tracks what’s happening inside my body. It’s primarily a sleep tracker, measuring time spent in each sleep stage, the ring also records my heart rate, heart rate variability, breathing rate, skin temperature, and it even recommends my bedtime schedule.
What I love the most is the activity scores, it tells me how much my body can take on, how I am balancing my activity and it is looking at the stress signals. I walk around 50-80 km / week and it keeps me more focused.
I am easily building an addiction to the games, so I have to control myself carefully. I do play HeyDay with my teens and occasionally Candy Crush Saga. It is quite embarrassing to remember when GameBoy was launched back in the 90’s, I played hours per day and fell asleep with the gadget in my hands and woke up with all the lights on.
Well, it has been great to grow up in that sense, even though I think we should try to keep an open mind like kids do throughout their lifetime.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Generally, there is this super people tribe, who never run out of time, and they manage to keep themselves in perfect condition while they are leading successful businesses and happy families + reading 3-5 books / week. I would like to read their interviews where they reveal at least one part of their life where they are suffering.
I believe life is a choice and it is almost impossible to get it all right. As I said earlier, I don’t have a balance in my own time and family time, as the driving around takes so much time so I don’t have time for my personal hobbies much, but I value the time with kids so high, that I can wait for couple of more years for my own time.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
I think balancing your life is a lot about prioritising. And successful prioritising requires a clear understanding of your personal values. I value very high freedom and sovereignty; family and friends and my work have to follow my ethical rules. When you have the basics right, it is easier to say no for the things that no matter so high.
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