Managing the big picture is the best thing about Arja-Sisko Koskela’s job.
You are Lakea’s Finance Director. What does your work entail?
The focus of my tasks varies from season to season: I resolve various issues and new operating methods that come up in a developing group, draw up schedules, prepare calculations to support executive decision-making, guide the financial statements process and prepare budgets. In terms of financing, I negotiate with financiers and process loan applications. My work also involves managing the loan portfolios of group companies. In addition, I work closely with the rest of the management team.
Lakea’s financial administration team includes four accountants and a controller. Payroll calculation has been outsourced, and our team handles communications with the subcontractor.
What’s the best thing about your job?
Being involved in the company’s activities as a whole. In a company the size of Lakea, the financial administration and the finance director must be in contact with the various operating units on a daily basis – we’re not a separate component in a massive machine. As the Finance Director, I need to come up with solutions that support the rest of the company’s operations.
Our group being the size that it is, every member of the management team is involved in planning the company’s operations and making and implementing decisions – unlike in larger companies where the role of a finance director is often more limited.
You came to Lakea a little over six years ago. What kinds of jobs did you have before that?
My degree in business administration has led me to a variety of positions. I’ve worked as an office manager, financial planner, controller, accounts manager and financial manager in many kinds of companies from the banking sector to construction. I have a career spanning four decades under my belt. Before coming to Lakea, I worked for Eltel Networks. It was refreshing to come from a 9,000-person company to a smaller work community like Lakea.
A few years ago, Lakea launched a new financing model for housing, which has become extremely popular. Tell us about the background of the Omaksi model.
Lakea and The Housing Finance and Development Centre of Finland developed the Omaksi financing model to meet a specific need. We were in a situation where banks were requiring more and more home buyers to provide a down payment. In addition to this, a decrease in the eligibility for interest deductions was in the works. Without savings or existing assets, it was difficult to purchase a home of your own. In the Omaksi model, you only pay 7.5% of the housing unit’s price – the rest you cover in rent payments over the next 20 years. The price stays the same. This has brought the prospect of home ownership within the reach of many people for whom it would otherwise have been very difficult, if not impossible.
Especially in the growth centres of Southern Finland, Lakea’s Omaksi homes are selling like hotcakes. Lakea intends to continue building Omaksi locations specifically in areas where the demand for housing is the highest.
Where do you find balance for your work?
I like to hike and cycle. These days, being a grandmother is probably the most important counterbalance for my work. I have three grandchildren, with a fourth on the way. I’m also involved with the local speed skating club. My sons are speed skaters, so I’ve been drawn into the club’s activities through them. One of my sons, Pekka Koskela, is still active in the competitive scene.