Maria's Story: "In Demola project I gained courage and the feeling of responsibility"

30 Sep 2020
by Ida Riikonen

Maria Varneslahti, a service designer and wellness business student, took part in our Kuopio Summer Boost program. Maria’s team created a customer journey map for their company partner Voimatel. Demola project was an important asset for Maria when she applied for her current job.

Career background

"I have been working in commerce, in varied positions, for fifteen years now. I would say I was kind of raised by Swedish companies, and as you might know, Swedish companies are known for their supportiveness towards their employees. They put a lot of effort in their employees’ well-being, and their processes are very refined. Another good thing about the Swedish company culture is that the employee is given a lot of responsibility. After working for Swedish companies, I worked elsewhere for a while and it did not feel right. Something was off. I started to think about what I could do to make the processes run smoothly, to save time and resources. I worked as an investment advisor at the time, and I would repeat the same sales pitch time and again. I felt like a telemarketer. I did not get the feeling of bonding with the customer, and the sales experience felt cold and distant. I got tired of that job, so I quit.
After quitting my job, I focused on self-improvement and wellness, started the recovering process after a long and exhausting work period. I read a lot about the things I was interested in and started to look for a path towards my dream job. I already had a lot of experience on commerce and the sales and marketing felt natural to me. I discovered the training program for Wellness Business (BBA) at Savonia University of Applied Sciences. Last year I applied for it and got in. Studying has felt like the right thing for me. The first year I completed 90 credits. After a year of self-improvement, studying felt very easy and exciting.

Demola experience

I spotted the Demola program on our school’s Intranet last spring. I was immediately intrigued by it, since the program contained process development and service design. In the project, I was given a lot of responsibility since the Demola personnel supported us but did not affect the content itself. I had not had any previous experience on being a project leader, but in our case, I had the most experience on the subject since it was clearly in the business field. Our other team members were specialized in mechanical engineering and forest economy. At first, I got a bit anxious about this new leader position, but I got a lot of support and encouragement from Erik (Demola facilitator). In my previous job, I had got used to not being heard: in an ordinary hierarchical organization it is common that the employees at the bottom level are not listened to. In this project I felt that at first, we encountered some resistance from the company, but then we gained their trust and they saw us as equal team members.


Current job and thoughts about the future

I started in my current job as a service designer in Condo just a little while ago. One huge asset in the recruitment process for me was our Demola project and the customer journey map we created for Voimatel. My knowledge and motivation got noticed. In my job I get to create the processes from the beginning – this is a quite new company and I feel like my professional skills are appreciated and needed here. We are designing CRM (Customer Relation Management) program right now. Before applying for this job, I had created this whole business plan of my own, I had website and everything ready. For the time being, the idea of starting my own business feels a bit too risky. I had taken the leap to the unknown just a couple of years ago and thought I could not do that again in such a short time period. When I saw the job advertisement, I had to apply for it since it was the same kind of job I would have done as an entrepreneur as well. I am a rather spontaneous person and I do not know what I want to do in the future – but I know I want to do something that I enjoy doing!


In Demola I gained courage and the feeling of responsibility. The experience with Demola overturned my previous bad experiences at work since the process was not hierarchical and I really had a say on things.


I believe that the future will be a lot about automation and digitalization, but still, the AI will not replace human to human contact. That’s why I am interested in customer experience management. We are all individuals, and cultural knowledge is very important in customer service. Not everything is for everyone and we must remember to offer individual service. In my current job I get to be with people and the locations vary. That’s something I enjoy."

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