After 18 years at Shell, Martti Kouhi found his #Way2InterimManagement, granting him the freedom to embrace new challenges in finance and project management.
Read on to learn all about Martti's journey and his findings along the way.
Gaining global experience
When Martti Kouhi graduated from university, he embarked on a journey with the international energy company, Shell. His career took him from Finland to the UK, and even to Barbados. Over those 18 years, he juggled 12 to 15 different roles, primarily in finance, but increasingly in project management. Soon, he became known as a versatile professional— capable of tackling everything from strategic projects to implementations and company sales.
"I stayed at Shell for so long because they had an initiative to promote talent internally. They were always eager to nurture and empower their existing employees by offering opportunities in unfamiliar territories. It's incredibly stimulating when you step into a completely different role because that's when you truly learn. It kept things exciting."
During his tenure at Shell, Kouhi had some crucial realizations about himself. The first was that he thrived while solving problems.
"Being a finance manager in a smoothly operating company can get mundane. When things need fixing... that's when it becomes truly interesting for me."
The second realization was that he loved to work on projects.
"Projects have a clear beginning and end, and they don't repeat. In a sense, they are 'once-in-a-lifetime' scenarios. There is nothing more inspiring than that. "
From internal dynamo to independent talent
After nearly two decades at Shell, Kouhi noticed a shift in the company's culture towards narrower, more specialized roles. Given his generalist approach and passion for projects, he began contemplating his next career move.
"It may sound funny, but after almost 20 years in one company, I started pondering what I wanted to be when I grew up. Setting up my own business as an independent talent seemed like one of the most intriguing options."
Leveraging his existing network, Kouhi stumbled upon his first freelance assignment without much effort. He took on this project as an opportunity to establish his own company.
"I didn't consciously decide to become an entrepreneur; it was an opportunity that arose from that initial project. It worked out, and then it worked out even more. Now, a decade later, I'm successfully independent."
With a decade of experience running his own business, Kouhi has been able to earn a steady income while working the way he likes best. Over the years, he has gotten to serve as an interim CFO and manage numerous projects in finance, strategy implementation, and procurement.
Kouhi's key to success
Throughout his independent career, Kouhi's success boils down to one straightforward principle: Develop something worth buying.
"To be credible and marketable, you need a core expertise. While you may excel in various areas, presenting yourself as a jack-of-all-trades can confuse clients. They may not even believe you. Instead, build a strong foundation in a specific discipline and expand your reputation from there."
For Kouhi, having core expertise has been crucial. Kouhi's double core in finance and projects has proven to be his winning formula, minimizing his need for traditional sales efforts.
"I've only sold one half-day through cold calling; that wasn't my recipe for success. My approach revolves around networking and leveraging my existing connections. When you excel in your work, people spread the word, and that's how opportunities flow."
A journey of skill development and resource utilization
Martti Kouhi's path to interim management has been fluid and organic, but it hasn't been without effort. He continuously hones his skills to stay competitive.
"Over the years, I've taken technical courses to maintain my financial and project management credentials. Certifications not only validate your knowledge but also make it easier for potential clients to understand your capabilities."
For newcomers to freelancing, Kouhi recommends taking the time to validate their expertise, which can boost confidence while waiting for the first assignment.
In addition to certifications, Kouhi also thinks that freelance communities and assignment platforms are great tools for both experienced and novice interim managers. Kouhi sees the value of Best Best Talent Platform and its Finnish-based partner, Ferovalo.
“For 10 years, there's been momentum around interim management in many areas of Europe, but not so much in Finland. All the recruitment companies have an interim practice, but none of them seem to have a lot happening around it. Ferovalo has been a positive exception.”
Since 2016, Ferovalo has been doing work to educate companies on the value of interim management and cultivated relationships with hiring managers in Finland. In 2022, Ferovalo began its partnership with Best Best Talent Platform— creating a more international emphasis and working to carve out more assignments for freelancers in Finland and abroad.
Kouhi is hopeful that the interim market in Finland will grow as it has in other European countries in recent years.
“I feel interim management is really about to take off in Finland”.
Martti Kouhi— Independent talent and BBTP member
Martti Kouhi's journey from a long and successful career at Shell to becoming an independent talent in the world of interim management is a testament to the power of adaptability and continuous skill development. With his dual expertise in finance and projects, Kouhi epitomizes the high-caliber talent within the Best Best Talent Platform community.
As interim management gains momentum in Finland, Martti Kouhi stands as a shining example of its potential. He envisions a promising future for the field in Finland and around the world.
Is your company in need of C-level talent?
Reach out to the Ferovalo team to list your open assignment on BBTP, gaining access to exceptional professionals like Kouhi.
Would you like to contact Martti Kouhi directly?
All BBTP members are independent talents open to establishing direct relationships with companies and hiring managers. Reach out to Martti Kouhi using the contact information provided below:
+358 40 540 1282
If you have reflections on this blog post, feel free to share your comment below. If you are interested in being highlighted in BBTP's #Way2InterimManagement campaign, email our Community Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via LinkedIn.