As Nordic Interim Finland celebrates its 10th anniversary this year, we took the opportunity to talk to Niklas Tevajärvi, the first Interim Manager signed for an assignment.
The career as interim CFO was more or less a coincidence
Niklas tells us that there is no straight path to becoming an Interim Manager. For him, it started on an ordinary day when he was contacted via LinkedIn by a Private Equity firm in the UK, which also owned a company in Finland. He had never thought of a career as an interim, but after having discussed the assignment with them, he found the idea very appealing: “I began to understand the benefits and the freedom it would provide for me, and the challenge of constantly level up and deliver under pressure suits my personality.”
For about 30 years, Niklas has held leadership roles in well-known companies such as Volvo, Agfa-Gevaert, and Ahlstrom. In 2013, his path crossed with Kari Peuhkuri, the founder and Managing Director of Nordic Interim Finland.
“At that time, I had just started my own company, which was a good thing because, after just a couple of months, Kari contacted me for an assignment as interim CFO for Night People Group, a nightclub business.”
NGP owned 16 nightclubs in Finland and had suffered a major setback, undergoing reconstruction and debt restructuring. The new board understood the need for someone who could handle crises and raise money. Niklas’s previous challenging experiences now became invaluable for Night People Group.
“I focused on financial reports, forecasts, and monitoring to ensure that the board felt secure, and at the same time, I developed reporting processes, structures, and quality assurance. I am the type of person who is calm in high-pressure situations, when water starts pouring into the boat, I become the confident captain who knows what to do.”
As he started the assignment, they had just begun the debt restructuring and a lawyer had been appointed to coordinate the process. After a plan was made and approved by the court, his first task was to negotiate with the bank that had the largest part of the financing of the company. NPG needed to be re-capitalized, and Niklas raised money from different investors. After a successful turnaround of the company, he completed his assignment in 2015.
“I directly jumped on my next interim assignment, also through Kari, at Solera Beverages. They had a Finnish subsidiary that had poor reporting and needed to find out what was wrong. After the assignment, I stayed as permanent CFO, but after a couple of years, I missed working independently. My last assignment was as interim CFO at Secto Design Oy.”
The allure of working as an Executive Interim Manager is to make things happen
Niklas deeply appreciates the independence and freedom of working as an interim. Assignments within finance are always connected with change and improvement, which he finds both fun and challenging. To share his experiences and skills with the team and solving business-critical problems is rewarding.
“Many company leaders who are not familiar with Interim Management compare the costs of an interim and a permanent employee, but these are totally different. An Interim Manager is very experienced and delivers results from the first day and brings with them new ways of working and sees things objectively. As a permanent employee, you often lack the needed experience of change, implementation, and leadership.”
When having time off – Call of the Wild
Living outside of Helsinki by the sea, Niklas enjoys boating and being out in the nature. He also plays a lot of football. When asked what to see when you visit Finland, he directly mentions the beautiful archipelago and one, or many, of the 56,000 lakes. During winter, his best tip is to see Lapland.