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Anna Degerholm

Robotit tulee ja vie meidän miehet ja työt wannado

The robots are coming to take our jobs, and our men

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I would like to automate my work. In fact, I studied how to do it for hours without really getting anywhere.

However, on Saturday I coded my first software bot. It can do easy, repetitive and routine tasks for me, which I can’t be bothered to do. True, the robot I built on Saturday cannot help me in my real work, but I can now create a genuinely useful automated tool.

Robotic Process Automation is a silly phrase, but at the same time very common in this area of technology; it is scary, valuable and strange. Coding and software development can feel like a secretive field: in order to even ask for advice, you have to understand a lot and feel at home in virtual places that are hard to understand and to access. Thus, the self-study of robotic process automation is particularly difficult, especially when you lack the time, the language, and the equipment.

However, as a leader of a company that provides assistant services, I must remain involved in all aspects of work life. Already many routine work tasks have already been automated, and a huge amount of human work has replaced by automation, robots and artificial intelligence. We can either just look on as the need for our work fades away, or we can strive to understand the changes that are happening and help our customers to change with the times. We must acquire the know-how and professionalism that our customers will need to make that change successfully.

But it is difficult to study, with the rush of the holidays and a growing company to runtime is already so limited, and the world of automation is so strange!

Fortunately, we have visionaries in this world. In this case, they are found at the Software and e-business association, which understood an essential problem: too few coders are women. Thus, the association’s Milja Köpsi and Rasmus Roiha came up with a way to tackle this problem in a concrete way: they invited IT firms to provide coding training for adult women! This resulted in the magnificent #mimmitkoodaa (#chickscode) project that now involves thousands of women interested in coding and dozens of software companies. This is how I too came to receive useful and free training on robotic process automation. A great thank you to the company, Knowit Suomi Oy, for providing the training.

Of course, I was a bit anxious at first: install Python 3.7, Robot Framework and Selenium library. Although the instructions were clear, the completely strange programs, words and operating systems made me feel awkward. It’s difficult when you are left alone to try and understand completely a foreign language. Luckily, on Saturday, I had the company of 25 other eager-to-learn people, and through peer support and skilled teaching, we all got our robots to work. And at the same time, I learned where to get support in the future. The frightening foreign world now a little less frightening.

To help with my own work, I first plan to automate the onboarding of new employees: providing them with access to all the different software and accounts that are needed at our firm. After that, my bot may learn to close an employee’s accounts when they leave the company. Even though I’m not going to spend a lot of my time focusing on coding software bots, through this training I’ve gained a solid understanding of what can and should not be automated and how to do it. I already feel much better prepared to meet the challenges of the next few decades.

How will you prepare for the future?

Author
Anna Degerholm
Partner, HR Director, Wannado Oy

The purpose of the #Mimmitkoodaa project is to encourage women interested in the software sector to learn coding and gain employment in the software industry.

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants

A confession from a HR Manager: I murdered creativity

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I’m Anna and I used to be a Dementor. I have since healed and would like to tell you about my journey to positivity. Read and learn.

Wannado was founded five years ago by two co-founders who are each other’s exact opposites; one is blond, analytical and calm me and the other one is brunette, loud and sometimes chaotic Irina. We both have pretty wide experience, and we also know our strengths and weaknesses quite well. We knew exactly what we were getting ourselves into.

I read a blog post about Dementors who suck the life out of ideas and kill creativity in a work environment. They hide especially in the IT field and in law firms. A very good read but nothing for me personally. I’m not like that. I’m not in IT. And they are talking about big organizations not about a company of our size. However the idea stuck with me. I started to think about my own ways further. I didn’t get very far before I got to CRITICISM. It’s necessary for a great solution isn’t it, criticism? There needs to be that one person in each company who gives criticism and says no to the ideas that are too wild and not at all profitable. It’s important. I had been doing it with Irina all along.

My problem was that before giving criticism and basically killing the idea, I never remembered to point out any positives about the idea. I did remember to mention all the different reasons why the idea wouldn’t work. When you tell that to a creative person who lives for ideas and flow, that person will get disappointed, bored and eventually will end up working on something else. For us it didn’t matter that we were equal business partners – when the other one is a Dementor, ideas will die even when they come from a managing co-founder.

There lays a big risk in this; some great ideas might go unheard. Thankfully my dear business partner Irina sat me down and said “Anna, you are not always right. Don’t act like you would be.” That was the time I decided to change.

This really changed everything. Firstly, Irina was doing much better; she performed better, sold more and had ideas flowing again. Secondly, I learned how to listen better. To really listen. I thought I had listened before, but actually it was just to focus on my clever come back. That’s dangerous for great ideas.

When criticism is presented badly or there is too much of it, it will eventually kill creativity. And creativity is essential for any company. Every one of us is creative in their own way. Creativity is important for all of us as it is directly connected to our motivation, the motivation that makes us get up and going.

In Wannado’s SuperAssistant team we give criticism to each other every day; we bounce ideas back and forward and utilize different opinions. That’s the right way to do it. For this to work we can’t have any Dementors and idea-killers in the team. Every team member needs to know how valuable they are – it’s highly unlikely they’d feel that way if one’s ideas and work were put down constantly without any positive feedback in the mix.

Learn how to listen to every idea. Learn how to think ”what if”. Before you say anything, think again. Even if the idea is still bad (according to you), start the feedback with ”Thank you, that’s a good idea”. And actually mean what you say too. This way the idea can be improved.

Author
Anna Degerholm
Co-Founder, HR Manager

Wannado’s SuperAssistants are true freedom fighters and problem solvers of the business world. SuperAssistants are not bound to any time or place, and can work remotely, flexibly, and cleverly. Irina Viitala and Anna Degerholm founded the multitasker team, Wannado Ltd, in 2011. Today, Wannado has over 30 experts in the fields of marketing, digitalization, event production, and general office & assistant work. #SuperAssistants