Hannele Palje-Rossi is BravoSolution’s new girl* in the Nordic region

BravoSolution, the procurement software firm,  has an interesting approach to global expansion. Over the years, they have tended to appoint strong country level MDs or general managers, with considerable freedom to develop business in their own markets. However, some strong marketing consistency is overlaid – in most territories at least – so the brand is pretty consistent everywhere they operate. In recent years, the firm has moved into the Middle East through their Tejari  jv, Pakistan and Australia. And their next step is the Nordic region, (Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Iceland), where they've recently appointed Hannele Palje-Rossi as MD.

Declaration of interest – she is a personal friend, and we first met when she worked for me during my spell as interim Commercial Director on the UK’s  ID Cards programme some years back.  She then became Head of Procurement for a Ministry of Defence Agency, before joining the private sector in a senior role with Mouchel’s consulting division. She worked for some time in the Emirates with Mouchel, before setting up her own consulting firm in 2012.

Hannele is Finnish, was brought up between London and Helsinki, but married Mike Rossi, of Italian origin, hence the interesting name now! After their daughter was born in early 2013, they decided to base themselves in Helsinki for family reasons – and the childcare is apparently great in Finland. In the meantime, BravoSolution was looking to appoint a Nordics MD for the first time. The rest is history.

Palje-Rossi is a pretty unusual procurement person. She is an excellent project manager, a more than capable sales person, as well as a deep procurement and commercial expert. And good with people, although she's not overly sympathetic to the lazy, incompetent or unreliable - she has some of that fabled Finnish directness!  I had a quick chat with her last week and started by asking her why she chose to join Bravo?

“I really like the people in the firm and the entrepreneurial spirit that runs through the core of the business”.

Although you’ve had a varied background, this is a bit new for you. Is taking on an MD role and moving into software a big challenge?

“I’ve been a procurement practitioner, used many different systems and tools, so I hope I’m well placed to advise practitioners on the solutions they will find useful. I’ve got an international background which helps and my consulting experience is directly relevant. So I hope I can make the transition”.

What makes you think Bravo can succeed in the region?

“The Nordics are very comfortable with technology, and tend to recognise ‘best of breed’. I hope that will play to our strengths and potential clients will recognise that in our products”.

And how is the business environment different to other parts of Europe?

“The region is very technology friendly, as I say. Firms look for top-end applications – our discussions here are often around dashboards, advanced sourcing, integration opportunities rather than the basic products. And Finland in particular has a stronger local language culture compared to other Nordic countries. You need to be seen as local, and there’s a big preference for developing local supply chains, which has implications for procurement processes and the technology used of course.”

How’s the partnership with Basware going – they’re based in Helsinki so I guess you’ll be a key link with them?

“Yes, I’m already meeting their people very regularly. The fit is good between us, we have quite similar cultures and we are already talking seriously to a number of Basware clients – I think there will be real synergy and benefits for both parties”.

What about the business culture – the Finns have a reputation for being a little shall we say, “serious” about work?

“It’s quite simple. What you need to understand is that when we’re working, we’re working. And when we’re playing, we’re playing. We’re quite binary that way”!

And the alcohol is very expensive isn’t it?

“There’s always the duty free

Final question – did you learn anything from working on the somewhat “interesting” ID Card Programme?

“Actually, yes. The complexity of what we were trying to do meant that we had to work in partnership with some suppliers and get them to work together with each other. That thinking around collaboration and strategic supplier management was  stimulating and quite new to me then. And of course working with Peter taught me how to eat large quantities of Mars Bars without being sick”!

Thanks to Hannele and we’ll follow her progress in the Nordics with interest.

 

* I don't use 'girl' in a derogatory or sexist way, please note, given the recent BBC furore on that topic. I would have used "boy" in that context if that had been appropriate and 'girl' just sounds better than "woman".

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