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Get to Know Us | Nea Piha, Tech Trainee, Tech & Innovation, Helsinki

19 April 2021

We interviewed our Tech Trainee Nea Piha, who works in our Tech & Innovation team. Nea is based in the Helsinki office, but as her team members are located both in the Helsinki and Stockholm offices, the nature of her work is cross-border. Nea is currently studying law at the University of Helsinki, and she has also studied finance at Hanken School of Economics.

Hi Nea! You started as the very first tech trainee at Hannes Snellman in August 2020.  How has it been so far?

It has been very exciting! I got to roll up my sleeves quite immediately. My first project was helping to coordinate and execute a cross-border firm-wide Sprinthack Challenge, which was also a great way to get to know my own team and many colleagues in these exceptional times when most of us are not able to see each other at the office on a daily basis. The whole firm participated in the Sprinthack in small teams and innovated around challenges that relate to our daily work at Hannes, and the best ideas will be refined and executed. What I have really enjoyed so far is the fact that everyone in our team is very eager to try new solutions and ideas and is motivated to learn new things and to take on new challenges without having to be too afraid of failure even though we have high ambitions. It has been very refreshing to switch my brain to a trial-and-error mode and to constantly challenge myself to try new things in order to find the best solution or to develop something new. Our team brainstorms a lot together, and there is a low threshold to share ideas and opinions, which I truly enjoy and appreciate. We have several new projects on the table with focus on firm-wide project management tools and automation. We constantly test new products, and if we find something useful, or if there is a clear need communicated to us, we try to find the best fit and make a plan to implement the new tools. That can often be the most challenging part.

What kind of tasks are included in a tech trainee’s workdays?

Since this is a new position, and our team works with development projects, there are not really any routine tasks that are my responsibility. No day is like the other, and that suits me perfectly. At the moment, I am working with AI projects and document automation, which probably take up most of my time. We are several people collaborating both in Helsinki and Stockholm, and we discuss and help each other out a lot and try to solve problems together. Because of these two projects I also get to work quite closely with lawyers when testing and reviewing results. I think that my both my legal studies and my previous job in the tech ecosystem have helped a lot in my work. I feel that my role is to be a bridge between the lawyers and the legal tech solutions we work with. Lawyers express their needs and challenges, and our team tries to find the best technical solution and then implement it into daily case work. It is challenging and can feel quite tardy at times, but when we have breakthroughs it is also extremely rewarding on a personal level.   

You study law at the University of Helsinki and have also completed some studies in finance. Please tell us a bit more about your studies and choices you have made as a student.

When I graduated from high school, I honestly wasn’t sure what I wanted to study or work with. I contemplated everything from medicine to industrial design but ended up in a business school, since I thought it would be useful for almost any career path. I studied finance for a few years, but after having worked full time as a board member of the student union, I didn’t feel so passionate about it anymore. Due to a series of coincidences, I decided to apply to law school and got in. After studying for a few years, I wanted to take some time off for different internships to figure out what I would enjoy working with in the future and finally ended up at Slush working with global investor relations. I really enjoyed the field and realised that a law degree can also be very useful when working with start-ups and tech investors. When I then returned to my studies and saw that Hannes Snellman was looking for a tech trainee, it felt like a perfect match for me, and so far I have been more than happy with my choice. For me, it took a bit of time to find my passion but now I feel that it has been worth the time off from studies, and I’ve had some truly unique experiences and learned some invaluable lessons along the way.

What would you say are future lawyers’ top three qualities from the technology and innovation perspective?

Curiosity is your biggest asset! I believe it is good to stay on top of what is going on by trying different new tools, reading on the topic, and maybe even attending different events and actively participating in discussions around the theme. Simply keep yourself exposed to new technologies and innovations, if possible. From a legal perspective, I also think that it is good to be a bit of a realist. Many new technologies also come with a lot of imperfections and issues, sometimes even big risks, and it’s good to be mindful about that, especially if everyone else is caught up in a hype. Finally, I think it’s good to constantly challenge yourself to do and experience things outside of your comfort zone. It will push you to look at things from a broader perspective and will hopefully escalate your own abilities in solving problems and maybe lead to some new innovations too, big or small, doesn’t matter!

What would you say to students interested in the tech trainee position at Hannes Snellman?

Having an open mind and a strong willingness to learn and explore new things takes you a long way. An analytical mindset and project management skills are also very useful. Don’t be afraid to try and fail even though it can be very frustrating at times, but it is also necessary for development.

Lastly, can you tell us what your all-time favourite innovation is?

At the risk of sounding a little bit boring and ominous, I have to say every innovation that helps us replace fossil fuels with sustainable ones and technologies that remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere in an effective way, storing it and using it for a sustainable purpose. Global warming scares me, and I believe that we need more and bigger innovations in this field.


FAVOURITE | Way of Commuting Walking Book The Moomin series by Tove Jansson, there are so many wisdoms in the characters and the stories about the Moomin Valley Lunch Poke bowl Podcast Dead Eyes by Connor Ratliff Work Equipment Headphones Afternoon Routine Coffee Mobile Application Uber Relaxation Method Sailing or spending time in the Finnish archipelago Work Outfit Used to be heels, now it is yoga pants… Power Song Gimme Shelter – The Rolling Stones Website Social Media Channel Instagram Drink Diet Coke Weekday TGIF Leisure Activity Playing tennis


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