Our people

Mar 8, 2024

Elina Hakkarainen: Life in the fast lane

womensday24 image na 1200x628 Elina

Elina Hakkarainen, 27, is based in Finland but is currently working abroad, as she’s an International Expansion Manager in Wolt’s Expansion Team driving efforts to open Wolt business in new countries. 

Not too shabby for someone who joined the company as a trainee less than three years ago. It’s fair to say that Elina’s career growth at Wolt is depictive of Wolt overall: fast and full of opportunities that arrive with very short notice.

Her background is in finance, and during her studies at Finland’s Aalto University one of the career options open to her was working as a consultant.

“I was heading towards that kind of career after doing an internship with a global consultancy in Helsinki. But then one day I saw there was an internship open at Wolt and applied. I started the job one-and-a-half weeks after the interview,” she said.

“I didn’t necessarily consider myself a tech or start-up type, but when I read the role description for the equity and rewards role at Wolt it was 100% me. Management consulting? Check. Experience with incentive plans? Check. Years of study experience? Check.”

The internship went very well, but Elina still wanted to keep her options open, so she entered the Political Science and Communications program at the University of Helsinki. And just to make things even more intriguing, Elina also had an open offer from the global consultancy for a full-time job. 

While she was studying, she was contacted by her former manager at Wolt. Would she be interested in returning to her position as an equity and rewards trainee? 

A whirlwind ride

As she prepared to rejoin the rapidly growing start-up, Elina already had a clear idea about how she wanted to handle this next phase of her career.

“There are three things I was looking for: new experiences in the sense that the job isn’t always about doing the same tasks. Second, I wanted to develop in my career super-fast, and have a steep learning curve. Third, I wanted to be able to balance my life in a way that I wanted,” she said. 

“When I joined Wolt I had been working and studying for 5–6 years, so I wanted flexibility and the power to determine my own schedule. It’s not about working 9-5, it’s about being able to manage my own schedule and have power over my own life. And I like moving fast.”

She certainly got what she was looking for. Elina was immediately tasked with helping to support the secret, behind-the-scenes planning for the eventual transaction with DoorDash. When that role ended in June 2022 with the successful closing of the deal, she didn’t have to wait long for new opportunities. 

“After Wolt joined forces with DoorDash, I started as a project manager in the People team. I was involved in all sorts of large projects, working with teams from different functions. Many of the projects were related to expansion, and for example I helped with our Icelandic and Austrian launches.”

People team? That sounds a lot like human resources-type work, and wasn’t Elina’s focus on finance?

“That’s my background, yes, but I’ve actually been in People teams most of my time at Wolt. In that type of work, you need project experience and analytical skills, and the ability to learn things quickly.”

“Then I moved to a position on the expansion team, and my current role is to open new markets. I’m responsible for building the business from scratch together with our other Expansion team members and the local team we hire. ”

“I love the fact that we give people the chance to try something and succeed. Everyone has a strong sense of ownership and the drive to solve problems,” Elina said.

“They are also fun and good people to work with. Whichever office you enter, you feel like you already know the people there.”

Elina says that this vibe, regardless of where the office is located, reflects the efforts by Wolt early on to establish a resilient culture that could feed and support the company’s rapid growth.

“I really, really enjoy the culture. I have onboarded many people in the past weeks and have been telling them how much I love it here. There is no micromanagement as well, which I like. The company isn’t very hierarchical,” she said.

“Our success is because of the foundation built very early on. The founders set the culture on the right course from the beginning. When you have the right cultural ambassadors there from the get-go, even if they end up leaving later on, the culture has already been multiplied and spread throughout the company.”