Roadie Highlight: Leadership in a community-led organisation

Columbia Road
4 min readFeb 27, 2024


I’ve been part of Columbia Road’s journey from the beginning, and since 2019, I’ve had the privilege of working as a Managing Partner. This is what the journey has been like.

The journey from legal to CEO goes through HR and finance

In high school, most would have bet I’d end up getting an education in sports, but I had a different idea. I wanted to become a lawyer. Law school was an unusual path coming from the countryside, and I can still remember the pure joy and relief I felt when I got the news I got in.

In law school, I probably couldn’t have guessed I’d become the CEO of a digital sales consultancy. But here I am.

During my studies, I worked various jobs in a law firm, in The Insurance Court, and even at the amusement park Linnanmäki in addition to doing an exchange in the US. After graduation, I landed a job at Futurice. The company was only 80 people back then, and when things were quiet on the legal front, I began to help out with HR.

As the company grew from 80 to 500 people, my responsibilities grew with it. I learned various things, from managing payrolls to opening new offices all around Europe. Over the years my focus shifted from law to people, and I began leading HR at Futurice, being a part of the Finnish management team.

I’ve always been curious to take on new challenges, which is why I was eagerly part of Columbia Road’s journey from the get-go. It all started in London in 2016 when the vision for the company was born together with Columbia Road’s founders Sampo and Lauri. I even got to write the first official legal documents for us and I’ve been part of the Columbia Road board from the beginning.

In the beginning, I supported Columbia Road mostly in finance while still simultaneously leading HR at Futurice. It was a unique opportunity to deepen my understanding of numbers and finance in an organisation — a skill that is quite essential in my role today.

In 2019 I centered all my focus on Columbia Road, and just a few months later I was asked to take on the role of CEO. I didn’t have to think twice. For me being at the centre of the business has been extremely rewarding and it’s something I want to encourage others to take on. You should never be afraid of taking a leap from supporting the business from the back office, to leading it and having profit responsibility.

Leadership in a community-led organisation

Leadership in a community-led organisation is quite unique. At Columbia Road, we’ve never had managers, and our culture is based on trust and transparency. What it means is that the role of the Managing Partner is not to micromanage others, but to be an enabler in the organisation. Given my background, I don’t always have the substance knowledge our consultants have on digital commerce, but I believe that leading people through empathy is one of my core strengths. This is possible in a community-led B2B organisation where each employee truly carries responsibility and takes ownership of their expertise.

Managing Partners Eero Martela and Sirkka-Liisa Rotinen

At the core of our community-led culture is also the practice of shared leadership. In most leadership positions at Columbia Road, we have two colleagues sharing the responsibility — the Managing Partner being no different. Since 2023, I’ve had my colleague Eero by my side sharing the position.

Unicorns are quite rare in any organisation, but with two people we can get fairly close. Sharing the responsibility with Eero allows both of us to shine where our strengths are. When making decisions, we can support each other and get a wider understanding of each situation. Sharing leadership also reduces bottlenecks and ensures that one person isn’t the only one with all the critical information in the organisation. It’s a great way to guarantee continuity in the organisation.

Leading with empathy, justice and diversity

I’ve always had a strong sense of justice and it has shaped me as a leader. If I see injustice or discrimination, I will speak out — whether it be encouraging my kids’ daycare to have little girls play the president in their Independence Day ball, or ensuring diversity, equity and inclusivity at work.

The Roadie community is very diverse, and I genuinely think it makes our decision-making better. It also makes our consultants better prepared to work in our clients’ diverse organisations. Diversity needs to be led. We can’t just put a diverse group of people into the same room, but we need to ensure that each voice is heard in the dialogue. As a leader, I need to make sure people have space to state their opinions even after I’ve stated mine — however different they might be.

At Columbia Road, that has meant, for example, making sure our taskforces are diverse, introducing the salary fairness process, and that there is pluralism in our strategy. In addition to official structures, a culture infused with empathy is built in everyday interactions with each other. I want to ensure that Roadies feel welcome to bring their whole selves to the table.

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Columbia Road

The leading Nordic digital sales consultancy. We help companies get more revenue and more customers in the digital era.