59: Emma Paajanen: Marketing a technical product to a technical audience

Our guest today is Emma Paajanen. She’s currently based in Boston but was born and raised in a small town in Finland.

She got her start in marketing at a Helsinki-based agency as a Comms specialist before moving to big tech at a cyber security company called F-Secure and also spending a year in internal comms at Nokia. Emma also had a freelancing stint while she was on parental leave from F-Secure where she later went on to lead Marketing Operations. Today she’s inventing new and powerful ways to engage with customers as VP of Marketing at Aiven, an open source data startup turned Unicorn, headquartered in Helsinki with hubs all over the world like Berlin, Boston, Paris, Toronto, some employees even work in a mountainside van.

Emma thanks for your time, we’re excited to chat with you today!


You worked at Ellun Kanat in 2010 then went to F-Secure for 2.5 years but you decided to go back to Ellun Kanat in 2014. After a tour of duty at Nokia, you also decided to go back to F-Secure in 2016.

You and Jon have this in common – Talk to us about your experience being a boomerang, working at a company, leaving and gaining experience elsewhere, and going back to that company. You did that twice.

Your time at F-Secure Corp

You spent over 3 years at F-Secure, working in 4 different roles, from Senior Marketing Manager of cyber security consulting to B2B Digital and content to then becoming Marketing Director and finally Marketing Operations Director.

Looking back, what were some of the things you think that helped you move up from manager to Director?

Walk us through your role as Director of MOPs at an almost 2k employee software company?

Marketing exec role

So now you’re VP of marketing at Aiven. You’re on the exec team. For the listeners who think they want to be an exec one day, talk to us about the difference of the day to day at Aiven vs earlier roles at F-Secure?

Growing from series B

You joined Aiven in April 2020, a few months after their series B round. How big was the marketing team when you joined and how big is the team today?

Talk to us about hiring marketers, what sets truly great candidates apart from the rest? 5 > 40

Startup turned $2 billion company

With their latest round of funding, Aiven is valued at 2+ billion. What do you think makes up the DNA of a great marketing leader at a Billion dollar company vs an up-and-coming startup.

Marketing a technical product to a technical audience

Aiven offers technologies as managed services, that offering includes services and sometimes technical support is an add-on. Talk to us about marketing a technical product and service to a technical audience. 

Open source

As I understand it, Aiven helps companies leverage open source data technologies on a public cloud platform. Being at WP, Open-source is close to my heart. Talk to us about the transformative period that the open-source community is currently experiencing. (Many IT vendors that originated as open-source developers are starting to place restrictions on their own software licenses—decisions that might be shortsighted and driven by profits.) 

Content marketing is simply marketing

A few years ago, you said that in 10 yrs, #contentmarketing will just be #marketing. Walk us through what you mean by that and do you think that content marketing is at the core of a marketing strategy?

Going beyond the brand

Emma, you’ve said that you’re passionate about going beyond the brand. What is brand marketing to you and what does it mean to go beyond branding?

The importance of marketing experience and values over just the brand name. 

Happiness question

You’re a working mom, you’re an executive at a Billon+ valued company leading a big team with big goals. One question we ask all our guests is how do you remain happy and successful in your career? How do you find balance between all the things you’re working on while staying happy?

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emmapaajanen/ 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/emmapaaj


Intro music by Wowa via Unminus
Cover art created by SLB

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