Posted on 23.11.2020

Anu Takala: I’m always thrilled to get things happening!

UpCloud Product Owner Anu Takala

Anu joined UpCloud during autumn 2019. As a Product Owner, she drives the development of our products and their lifecycle from an idea all the way to the users. In everything she does, she strives for learning new things and constant improvement.

What is the essence of your work at UpCloud?

My work consists of multiple levels. Firstly, I work at a sprint level with our developers to figure out what to implement next. I also cooperate with stakeholders, discussing the needs and requirements of Sales, Marketing, Operations and Support. Secondly, we maintain product portfolio vision based on the user feedback, our thoughts on users’ values and our role in the markets. Thirdly, I am also responsible for the company’s roadmapping process.

On top of the substance-related work, we also try to improve our ways of working, putting processes and documentation in place, improving them and bringing attention to people’s work-life improvements. I strongly believe that people should also have fun while working despite the challenges related to daily tasks.

What brought you to the company?

I have my background in technical product & project management, software and process development, telecoms’ and infosec worlds. Prior to coming to UpCloud, I hopped into consulting in these areas for some years. However, I realised that I longed back for actual product management, being the Product Owner and owning the development of something that I am fully responsible for. That’s where UpCloud came into the picture.

From your previous positions, did you have experience with cloud computing?

I’ve been more or less utilising the cloud for developing services and running software in different virtualised and public cloud environments, but not concentrated on the basis of it, the infrastructure layer. For the same reason, this opportunity at UpCloud provided something new to learn.

What are the trends we can expect coming in the next few years in cloud computing?

COVID-19 has changed the everyday life of individuals and companies. The demand for cloud-enabled business is rising very steeply due to the need for remote working, while still being in contact with people and supporting recreation at home.

We can also see the tendency of companies to split their cloud presence to different kinds of clouds. The multi-cloud and hybrid models where users are not relying only on one vendor or setup but utilise two or three different ones, aim to lower the business risks and allow flexibility.

What do you like about being a Product Owner?

The versatility of it. You get to do so much of everything with the product management domain. Keeping all of it together makes me tick, and I love it when new releases are launched to the users. I’m equally excited to get the greetings from the users to the actual makers of the functionality, the developers. As a Product Owner, I’m just a mediator, but I’m thrilled to get things happening.

Looking back at companies you worked for in the past, what’s different now?

I’ve been working in many types of companies: from extremely international setups to purely domestic operations. Compared to my consultancy times which were mainly done in Finland, in Finnish, UpCloud certainly has brought me back into the international field. Here, the scope for business is global, and we have colleagues and users that speak a variety of languages and represent dozens of different cultures.

In contrast, many companies in Finland keep saying how international they are, but in practice, you end up being a translator because the mindsets and operations are very Finnish.

Is your passion for learning new things a reason why you’ve also been doing mentoring?

I have been working with really skilled people in multiple domains and companies. With people who have seen it worthwhile to share their knowledge just by me asking to learn more. And that has been plain awesome! With that feeling in mind, I started contributing back by sharing some of my skills via mentoring. While mentoring, I don’t tell people how I do things. Instead, I rather pose questions to trigger their thinking processes to get a broader understanding in place.

In addition, one of my hobbies is actually proofreading and guiding people’s dissertations. I’m very curious about how things work and why they work that way. What would be a better way to feed that curiosity than helping others with their dissertations from the angle of academic writing and the clarity on the subject at hand? And I’m learning new stuff at the same time. Be it information security in distributed systems and microservices or real estate business’ competitive dynamics. Anything goes!

If you could try a different position in UpCloud, what would you pick?

The Operations Team. The guys with the cables making noise. Don’t get me wrong, I work with them a lot and they’re fantastic people. Which is why I’d also love to dig deeper into their heads and working domain.

When we make new software, the deployment goes to the data centres which are run by the Operations people. They are very skilled in what they do but also skilled in explaining how the physical infrastructure functions on all of the different levels. I’d be thrilled to hop in their boots and get my hands dirty with that domain.

Where would I find you in your free time?

Mostly riding my bike, wandering in the woods or reading, watching movies or my kids’ soccer games and being with my dog, an oversized Eurasier looking like a bear. It has absolutely no service attitude, guaranteeing plenty of unexpected situations. I wouldn’t be comfortable with a too obedient breed. They do exactly what you want them to do. Where’s the challenge in that?

Is there something your colleagues don’t know about you?

People might know that my long time hobby is Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial art. When practising Capoeira, you get the movement and rhythm, flexibility and coordination, and it helps me to breathe freely after working at the office all day. Practising Capoeira is social with people from a variety of backgrounds playing together, it’s very dear to me.

However, not many people know that I also have a Capoeira name “Chicote” which translates into a whip. It is related to my signature movement, Rabo de Arraia, the tail of a stingray. It’s a fast and powerful backside swirl kick that comes naturally from me. Chicote also translates freely into being a badass. You never know what’s coming from me, so beware!

Would you like to work with Anu?

Check our open positions!

Barbora Mervaala

Social Media and Content Specialist at UpCloud. Passionate about writing stories about inspiring people and companies.

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