Our people

Mar 8, 2024

Clara Bessiere: Nice people finish first

womensday24 image na 1200x628 Clara

Clara Bessiere sits down for a discussion from the office in Helsinki, dressed warmly to fend off what has seemed like a winter without end. Her current role is Product Lead in Marketing Tech, where she helps build the right products for Wolt’s marketing teams to grow user engagement.

Clara, 33, starts with a recap of her career. With roots in the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, she moved to Paris to study business and then did a master’s in finance, writing her thesis on the valuation of start-up companies. A career as a consultant beckoned.

So how do you get from finance in France to software in Finland for a global technology company renowned for its local commerce platform?

“I worked on start-up valuations and tried to do more of that work at my company in Paris. The more I talked with entrepreneurs the more I got excited, and I immersed myself in the start-up world outside of my consulting job. I attended a tech start-up weekend at one point, a hackathon kind of thing, and this led me to start working on software prototypes and product work.”

"I eventually left Paris for London and did software product management training. I joined a large global travel technology company in their product analytics team and got to learn many new things that I still use today.”

“Then came Brexit, and my Finnish partner and I wanted to relocate to the Nordics. I heard about a young company called Wolt. They had a role in global operations, something I had never done before. We moved to Copenhagen for the job and were there for over a year. Then Covid came and we moved to Finland, where I have been for 3 years so far.”

"When I joined Wolt in Copenhagen we were around 600-700 people total in the company. Now we are more than 10,000. That said, sometimes I can’t believe the company is so big. It still feels like we are only 600 people or so.”

Corsica, Paris, London, Copenhagen, Helsinki. Business, finance, product analytics, global operations, software product lead. Phew! Growth and its close sibling change clearly run deep in Wolt, and that’s something Clara enjoys.

“When I first joined, I didn’t know too much about the company. The job description could only tell so much. I was in London and Wolt wasn’t there.”

“I’ve been positively surprised since I joined. When Covid hit we were a team of two, and I had come from this big travel technology company. We were thrown into something fast paced, we had to plan on the fly.”

“I was working with 20 countries, talking with people on a daily basis and trying to figure out how we can improve operations at scale. It was more than what I thought it would be, and very stimulating.”

“At Wolt you never get too comfortable – in a good way – and you’re always kept alert. I am now part of a product rotation program where I get to change teams every year, with a lot of training, mentorship and coaching.” 

OK, so what hasn’t changed?

Given this massive amount of change in a short amount of time – and massive change outside the office as well, given Clara also was on maternity leave for part of her career at Wolt – it’s worth asking if there have been any constants during this frenetic period of professional and personal growth?

“We have cultural values: ambition, heart and excellence – to name a few. These aren’t just words on paper. We hire people who share these values, people who are dynamic and collaborative,” she said. 

“There is a feeling of trust, and people are quite loyal. You work with super-smart people every day. They are super-energetic, humble and kind. This is something I appreciate and resonates with me.”

“To be honest, it still feels like the same group of people, the same way of working as when I joined, even if things are becoming more complex.”

The imbalance of women in certain tech industry roles like software engineering is well known, but Clara says she’s seen a number of encouraging signs.

“There are a lot of women in tech initiatives in the company. There are mentorship opportunities, coaching, training – all designed to make you a better version of yourself. I’ve realized that even if I don’t have a tech background, I can bring something new and valuable to the team: a business perspective,” she said. 

"There are still some gaps, of course. There are fewer women working in tech overall, fewer applying to tech roles. But on the product side there is quite a good balance. We have a lot of female product leaders, and it helps to have such role models around.”

When asked about role models who inspire her, Clara says that on a general level she appreciates seeing great characteristics in people. One example she cites is Wolt’s COO Marianne Vikkula, noting how her energy helps her command the room when she enters. This syncs with a topic Clara has recently been reading about: creativity.

“If you’re enthusiastic about something, it’s contagious. Even as companies grow, if they keep freedom of thinking and the chance to try totally new things, then people really get excited.” 

Clara ticks all those boxes: a free (and clearly smart) thinker, someone who has tried many new things in her career at Wolt, and someone who is excited by their work. As the Helsinki day draws to a close and darkness sets in, is there any way she can sum up her career at Wolt so far?

“I want to give a positive, yet realistic message. Building a career isn’t easy. It’s a journey, and even when you don’t think you’re on the right path, you need to trust in yourself. There are no boundaries for what you can do. Every experience we go through helps us grow and become more confident. We women sometimes hold ourselves back. ”