Share |

Week at the top

Maarit Toivanen-Koivisto is the Chairman of the Finnish company Onninen Oy, one of the leading technical wholesale companies in the Baltic Sea region. Maarit, a fourth generation family member, has been actively working in the family business since the late 1970s. Maarit is married to Ilkka, and has four children: Erik (16), Martina (14), Martti (8) and Henrik (5).

Monday begins as most of the Mondays do in the Executive Committee of Onninen's parent company, Onvest  Ltd. There are financial matters and a couple of real estate questions on the agenda. After the meeting, I go through the week's calendar with my secretary, Tarja. Then it's off to the airport, where I board a private plane with some other Finnish business people travelling to Moscow for the "Moscow Briefing", which involves meeting a few times a year with various Russian authorities.

During the flight to Moscow, I go through the minutes of the European Union of Electrical Wholesalers' General Assembly, which was held in Vienna the previous week. The afternoon in Moscow is busy. We meet, among others, the Russian Minister of Industry and Technology as well as the Deputy Minister of Energy. Both are very important contacts for our company. The flight back to Helsinki is late  and when I arrive back home the rest of the family is already sound asleep.

Despite the late night, the morning begins very early. The morning is reserved for Onninen's board meeting. The interim report for January through June is on the agenda. The managing director of Onninen Sweden is also on hand to tell us about the initialisation of the electric wholesaling operations in Sweden. I lunch with my mother, who is Chairperson of the board of the parent company, Onvest. I've reserved the early afternoon for interviews with candidates for the real estate director position.

During the afternoon, I talk with several people on the phone including our country manager in Poland. Late afternoon is spent at the British Embassy's reception for the Queen's Jubilee and a farewell party for the ambassador. After the Embassy procedures, I still have to return to the office in order to get a couple of things finished for the next morning.

Wednesday morning starts with attending the Board meeting of Are Oy, Onvest's subsidiary. Are specialises in structural building technology contracting and the marketing of the new Are Sensus "smart" structural building system is a matter of current interest at the moment. At lunchtime, I participate in a meeting of the "Juustopöytä" (Cheese Table) Association, which has gathered influential women together for almost 25 years. I function as the Association's action committee chairperson and we review the 25th anniversary festivities being arranged for 2003, among other matters.

After this meeting is over, my husband Ilkka and I go to a reception at the Russian Embassy for Russia's national day. An impressive group of guests is in attendance. On the way home, we pick up our children from the home of some family friends. The tired and sun-bronzed flock of children clearly need a sauna after the sailing cruise they've been on today.

Thursday morning begins early with my Rotary Club meeting at 7:30, at which designer Anne Linnomaa presents an interesting talk on ecology in fashionwear. After the meeting, I stop by the office and then depart for east Finland and the Mikkeli Summer Days being held there. The theme of this national event is "morality in work life".

The car trip to Mikkeli is relaxing. The lovely lake scenery is visible in every direction and the sun is shining beautifully. I've arranged to have lunch with our local director there, who takes us to Marshall Mannerheim's old club, 'Mikkelin klubi'. After lunch, I attend a seminar programme. The evening is spent enjoying the festive atmosphere common to traditional Finnish summer parties.  

Breakfast at the hotel. I prepare my speech, Values Should Be Valued in a Family Business. During my address, I emphasise perseverance in family entrepreneurship together with other matters that are important to me, such as ownership with a human face, continuous development, openness, civic responsibility, ethical values and the importance of remaining a financially sound and independent company. The audience is enthusiastic and I answer many questions from them.

The only speaker after me is EU Commissioner Erkki Liikanen, who reflects on the differences and similarities between the European and Finnish work ethic in his speech. This is a subject on which I feel I have to take a stand, especially in light of our unit in Poland. The occasion ends with a lunch, after which I depart for Helsinki.

I drive directly to the countryside where our family traditionally spends high summer – we don't return to the city until mid-August when the children's school starts again. During the evening, I relax with a sauna and a swim.  

A wonderful morning! The sun is shining and the thermometer reads almost 20 degrees Celsius already at 8:00. Ilkka, Martti, Henrik and I decide to go on a trip to Nuuksio National Park. We pack supplies for the excursion and head down the road in our car. Martina and Erik stay at home to play computer games with some friends who are visiting them. We check out the vegetation and do some birdwatching with the boys. We also manage to see an elk.

A few hours outdoors makes us all hungry and we set out for a nearby café that makes – in our children's opinion – the world's best pancakes (and they taste quite good to the grown-ups as well). The afternoon is spent organising our summer home and trying to get the vegetable garden into better shape.

In the evening, the whole family pitches in to prepare dinner. What a mess is left afterwards! With the others already on their way to bed, I remain behind to clean things up and enjoy a moment of peace in the bright light of the midnight sun.

The relaxing and pleasant events of Saturday can still be felt. It feels like being reborn! The pressures of the work week are behind us and there is still a whole day ahead before the beginning of a new week. In fact, I use the morning to do some preparations for the week as Ilkka and the kids go swimming.

Sunday dinner is a time of togetherness for our family. Ilkka prepares smoked salmon and new potatoes, which taste heavenly with cold white wine. In the evening, our nanny arrives and together we go through the schedule for the coming week.

Click here >>